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How are the UK’s pop-up bike lanes being received?

Government’s first tranche of Emergency Active Travel funding was announced this week

From road closures in Weston-super-Mare to ‘Health highways’ on the Wirral to pop-up cycle lanes in York and Cardiff, emergency cycle infrastructure has already been created up and down the country. How is it being received?

Cycling UK reports that at least 40 councils across the country have made changes to roads during lockdown with over 10,000 people having supported the charity’s campaign by writing to their local authority calling for similar measures.

(You can use the Widen My Path tool to show your local council where you feel something is needed.)

UK motor traffic fell to its lowest level for 65 years at the start of lockdown, with travel on the nation’s roads plummeting to levels not seen since 1955. This encouraged many to take to their bikes during this period.

Speaking at the start of last month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the level of weekday cycling had doubled in Great Britain since the introduction of lockdown in late March, with even stronger growth at weekends.

However, with motor traffic levels rising significantly in recent weeks, the question is how much of this will stick.

The BBC provides as one example Jude Duncan from Leicester, a 57-year-old who bought a second-hand bike at the start of lockdown.

Having not cycled before, Duncan now commutes to work by bike and also rides at the weekends. She says the city’s pop-up lanes have been "a godsend".

"I wouldn't go on the roads if they weren't there. If you're being encouraged to ride a bike, then you have to be able to do it safely."

Speaking at the launch of a new pop-up lane on Hinckley Road last week, Leicester deputy city mayor for environment and transportation, Councillor Adam Clarke, said: “We’ve seen how popular these pop-up cycle track schemes have been and it makes sense to continue installing them on major commuter routes in and out of the city.”

Chris Boardman, the walking and cycling commissioner for Greater Manchester, has said that these sorts of schemes are a chance to set the transport agenda for decades to come, but with more and more cars back on the roads, local authorities are beginning to face greater tensions when attempting to implement such schemes.

Recently we’ve reported on a stretch of pop-up bike lane that was put in on the A56 in South Manchester but removed by Trafford Council following complaints from drivers, while in Filton in Gloucestershire a pop-up cycle lane was scrapped after just five days following complaints it caused traffic jams.

In an even more striking example of drivers’ resistance to change, Lewisham had to stick a bollard in after drivers mounted the pavement to get round planters put in to block a road to motor traffic.

Meanwhile, a new bike lane in Toxteth was branded a “pop-up car park” because of the way drivers were using it. (Double yellow lines have now been added, albeit to minimal effect going by yesterday’s live blog.)

Even within Boardman’s region, Manchester Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport, Angeliki Stogia, has spoken out against pop-up cycle lanes, arguing that if the council were to “take out capacity on major routes” by constructing pop-up lanes, it would result in greater congestion.

Similar comments have been made by Royston Smith, the Conservative MP for Southampton Itchen, who complained that the City Council was exacerbating congestion by “taking out lanes”.

However, despite the easing of lockdown, it is in many ways still early days for pop-up infrastructure with the Government having only allocated its first tranche of Emergency Active Travel funding earlier this week.

The Government fears that without large numbers switching to active travel, towns and cities’ roads will grind to a halt. It was therefore striking that a message appeared to be sent.

While some authorities who made strong bids had actually been given more money than they requested, others will receive only 75%, 50% or 25%.

In a letter to councils, the Department for Transport pointedly urged councils to show “an even higher level of ambition” when it came to proposals for emergency active travel measures ahead of the next tranche of funding.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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14 comments

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brooksby | 3 years ago
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Well, the pop up infrastructure on the Triangle in Clifton, Bristol, has now arrived in all its glory (I think it was put up yesterday, as it was there when I went home but I was going the wrong way to try it out).

Along the strip of shops from the Argentinian (?) meat restaurant along to Paper Chase and the taxi rank (about a hundred, maybe hundred and fifty metres), there are those plastic water-filled barriers about two feet, maybe three feet, out from the kerb - I presume so as to widen the pavement to allow for distancing past the people queing to get into Sainsburys.

And then there's a line of traffic cones about another two/three feet out from that.

I think that the intention is that you ride a bike between the barriers and the cones.

Coming in this morning, I'd say that the cones have already been knocked about quite a bit.

You couldn't actually ride down the (surprisingly tight) lane between the cones and the barriers without constantly stopping and moving the cones (so, in a demonstration of blood-mindedness, I did!).

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Gus T | 3 years ago
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Come to Hull where we have a Tory councillor complaining that the Labour council's application  of the Government's Active Travel policy is anti-car.               https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/city-counc...

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ktache | 3 years ago
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I think Reading's advisory lanes are still going over Reading bridge, though the fresh paint may have been a bit of a waste, they are ripping up the bridge for gas mains work, next 6 weeks.  Traffic chaos, motorist anyway.  Maybe when it's all over they will do what they should have done in the first place and give us Mandatory lanes, and at least protect us with the law if not something more substantial than paint.

As I understand it, Reading only got funded for 25%, bloody Tony Page.

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LetsBePartOfThe... replied to ktache | 3 years ago
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Is there a good guide somewhere that explains the differences between mandatory and advisory cycle lanes, or is Highway Code the best place to start

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ktache replied to LetsBePartOfTheSolution | 3 years ago
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Roger Geffen, CycleUK's legal eagle summerised in this way.

Mandatory cycle lanes (MCLs): marked with solid white lines, it is (and always has been) an offence to drive or ride a vehicle other than a pedal cycle in a MCL during its hours of operation (n.b. MCLs, like bus lanes, can operate part-time only, although part-time cycle lanes are rarer than part-time bus lanes). It also used to be an offence to park in them, however that has now changed.

Advisory cycle lanes (ACLs): marked with dashed white lines, these are (as their name suggests) purely advisory, i.e. they have no formal legal meaning. However, the advisory rule urging drivers to keep out of them would (slightly) increase the liabilities of someone driving who hit a cyclist in an advisory cycle lane compared with the same situation if the ACL wasn’t there.

It was in an article about parking in mandatory lanes built after 2016, https://www.cyclinguk.org/blog/underhand-law-change-undermines-mandatory... but the definitions still hold.  I don't see how motorists can park in them without driving in them first, but hey, maybe they pushed them in there.

And her's something from the cycling embassy-

https://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/sites/cycling-embassy.org.uk/files/do...

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LetsBePartOfThe... replied to ktache | 3 years ago
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Thanks both for the explanations

I will also presume that normal road lanes with a white-painted cycle marking are simply advisory cycle lanes where it was too narrow for a demarcation line.

Regarding cars parked in a mandatory cycle lane .... in the Forum, I'm there fretting that if I don't have my wits about me, my cycling at 15-20 mph in a normal lane, may inadvertently block a motorist in that lane, and therefore it could constitute Inconsiderate Driving. Yet a motorist "driving" at 0 mph in a mandatory cycle lane ( and in fact probably indoors watching telly ), is causing no infraction whatsoever in blocking my using the lane.  What's the name of the place that is slightly beyond irony?

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ktache replied to LetsBePartOfTheSolution | 3 years ago
3 likes

The UK's cycling provision?

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LetsBePartOfThe... replied to ktache | 3 years ago
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Government announces emergency £250m funding package for world's narrowest car park 

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David9694 replied to LetsBePartOfTheSolution | 3 years ago
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Even narrower than the M25!

 

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mdavidford replied to ktache | 3 years ago
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Rather bemusingly, the HC tells you 'Do not drive [in an advisory cycle lane] unless it is unavoidable' and 'You MUST NOT drive [in a mandatory cycle lane]'. Which sort of suggests that you're not allowed to drive in a mandatory lane, even if it's unavoidable.

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Titanus replied to mdavidford | 3 years ago
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mdavidford wrote:

Which sort of suggests that you're not allowed to drive in a mandatory lane, even if it's unavoidable.

 

Not sure what they think "unavoidable" means. But I think one example is your going to die if you get eaten by a lion. It would be unavoidable, even if you were not allowed to die. You would die anyway.

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hawkinspeter replied to LetsBePartOfTheSolution | 3 years ago
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Probably the Highway Code.

As I understand it, mandatory cycle lanes use a solid white line and they are mandatory in that cars must not use them (optional for cyclists). Advisory lanes use a dashed white line and cars shouldn't use them unless they need to (and again, optional for cyclists).

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David9694 | 3 years ago
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Not riding in your lovely 1 meter wide cycle lane? the penalty is to get knocked off - not surprised, should expect: there might have been a "deserve" too, but I may be mis-remembering that.
My forum post "the letter-writers are coming" sank without a trace, I think. 
To take the Southampton example, the whinges include about congestion, several examples of a new-found compassion for the disabled, cars = economic prosperity / retail, and the city is 100% anti-car and there won't any cars at all and all the shops will close so there. 

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dodpeters | 3 years ago
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Angeliki Stogia demonstrating the true extent of Labours commitment to cycling

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