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Bike lane meltdown: New road markings prompt Mail to ask, “is there any room left for cars?”

The markings, which aim to encourage cyclists to take a “prominent position” while riding through Bournemouth, were described by the paper as the “latest move by the authorities to drive cars off the road”

A simple lick of paint on the roads through Boscombe, a suburb of Bournemouth, has prompted something of a meltdown in the national press, with the Mail, Telegraph and Metro publishing articles devoted to the new bike markings, which the MailOnline has described as “the latest move by the authorities to drive cars off the road”.

As we reported on the live blog yesterday, bicycle symbols have been painted in the middle of lanes in Boscombe as part of recent resurfacing works carried out by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council.

The council says that the new road markings on the A35 Christchurch Road and between Browning Avenue and the Christchurch Road roundabout were added to encourage cyclists to take a “prominent” position on the road.

“We recently undertook carriageway resurfacing in Christchurch Road at Boscombe and we have widened the cycle lanes in line with current standards and made them mandatory where possible,” a council spokesperson told the Daily Echo

“The road markings highlighted are there to encourage cyclists to take a prominent position in the lane so therefore make them more visible to other motorists.

“These have been added where the existing width of the carriageway between constrictions is between 3.2m-3.9m.”

> Large bike symbols painted on middle of Bournemouth lanes to encourage cyclists to ride in primary position – and motorists aren’t happy 

Bike symbols in the middle of shared use lanes, as transport journalist Carlton Reid pointed out on Twitter earlier today, are not a new phenomena in the United Kingdom, and have been in use since 1975.

They were soon adopted in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, where they evolved into the much-maligned 'sharrows’ (or shared arrows), a source of both confusion and frustration for cyclists in those countries.

However, the installation of a decades-old road marking in Bournemouth has resulted in both the MailOnline and Daily Telegraph penning articles claiming that the symbols encourage cyclists to “ignore” the town’s dedicated bike lane.

While legally there is no obligation for bike riders to use cycle lanes where they are provided, the Telegraph quoted readers who claim that the new markings have “made the bike lane redundant while making cyclists think ‘they own the road’.”

The MailOnline wrote that “cyclists are being encouraged by council officials to ignore a dedicated cycle path and use a busy main road instead in an attempt to force traffic in the town centre to slow down.

“Although cyclists have the use of the 7ft wide bike lane alongside the A35 in Bournemouth, Dorset, large bike symbols have been painted on the main road as well.”

> MailOnline and its readers have meltdown over video of cyclist riding perfectly legally on road 

While the Mail and Telegraph both note that cyclists can avail of a “seven-foot-wide bike path”, the Mail’s own article includes a statement from BCP Council which disproves this claim.

“As part of our works to improve the A35 Christchurch Road, we’ve taken steps to make the route safer for all road users and support more sustainable travel through the area,” the council spokesperson said.

“The original cycle lane markings were typically 1.5m, with some as little as 1.1 metres in width, which is below current national standards and allowed for close passing of vehicles. They were also frequently being parked on by motorists.

“To address these issues and improve safety, we have adjusted the cycle lanes to 2m in width in most areas. There is a very short section of 1.5m wide lane and some lengths of 1.7m wide. We’ve also made them mandatory where possible to prevent vehicles parking and to create a safer space for people cycling.

“At pinch points along the road, we have added painted signs on the centre of the carriageway to alert motorists that cyclists are likely to be using the main carriageway at these points.

“This will give people living and travelling through the area more confidence to get out about on their bikes, travel sustainable on this important route and leave their cars at home.”

Despite the glaring inaccuracies in their report, the Mail described the markings as the “latest move by the authorities to drive cars off the road” and included in their headline the question: “Is there any room left for cars?”

Bournemouth bike symbols (Daily Telegraph)

Both the Mail and Telegraph reports include photographs of the symbols, with the Telegraph (above) including the caption: “Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has placed a large bike symbol in the middle of certain roads, alongside an existing cycle path”.

However, the cycle path in question is shown in the photo to be little more than a short and relatively narrow stretch, segregated from traffic only by paint on the road, and fails to even cover the width of the image.

Nevertheless, the ‘story’ has also been covered by GB News and notorious anti-cycling TalkTV presenter Mike Graham, who branded the council’s decision as “literally madness”.

> Active Travel Group sympathises with drivers “who feel ‘rather claustrophobic’ in their one tonne sofa-carrying steel boxes” 

Carlton Reid has described the rather zealous reaction to some new paint on the roads as “lots of weird, culture-war frothing about this non-story”.

The journalist pointed out that, despite the Mail’s belief that the symbols would lead to cyclists taking over the roads, “painting a bike symbol on a road probably does diddly-squat for road safety.”

This latest bike lane-related media meltdown isn’t the first time that the Mail has taken aim at cycling infrastructure in Bournemouth.

> 10 of the most hysterical anti-cycling Daily Mail headlines 

In January, the newspaper published a story titled: “Motorists' fury as cyclists IGNORE £150m cycle lane scheme in Bournemouth and pedal along the road – forcing drivers into oncoming traffic.”

The headline was soon corrected to clarify that the segregated bike lane on the A347 Whitelegg Way (perhaps the seven-foot-wide path purported to be in Boscombe, over four miles away?) did not in fact cost £150 million, but rather £1.12 million.

Sure, what’s almost £148.9 million between friends?

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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37 comments

Avatar
andy_d_t | 1 year ago
4 likes

The council quoted the cycle lane widths in dirty foreign metric units, which Mail 'journalists'/readers can't understand - so 1.5m suddenly becomes 7 feet!

Avatar
Jetmans Dad replied to andy_d_t | 1 year ago
0 likes
andy_d_t wrote:

The council quoted the cycle lane widths in dirty foreign metric units, which Mail 'journalists'/readers can't understand - so 1.5m suddenly becomes 7 feet!

So ... they can't do Maths either?

Avatar
Muddy Ford | 1 year ago
6 likes

It makes perfect sense to have the bike symbol in the road, to remind ignorant drivers that there may be bikes in the lane and perhaps prevent them from shouting at the cyclist to "use the f@@@g cycle lane" to the left which actually turns left at the lights. The cycle lane is also usually blocked by drug dealers cars with the owner doing business getting a coffee in one of the cafes there..

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a1white replied to Muddy Ford | 1 year ago
4 likes

Reminds me of the story, a few years back, of locals, in Tower Hamlets, London, sick of drug dealers parking outside their houses every night and making the streets unsafe with the police not acting, that they painted road markings and incredibly well made signs showing the parking was for "Drug dealers only". It worked, they got lots of national press and the police finally acted and made arrests. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-45563426

https://metro.co.uk/2019/11/18/drugs-gang-caught-residents-paint-drug-de...

 

Avatar
stomec | 2 years ago
6 likes

Excellent short video in the Guardian today explaining why cycle lanes do not cause congestion 
 

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/video/2022/may/17/why-new-bike-lanes-dont-cause-traffic-jams-video

Why don't the Mail etc  produce similar well reasoned balanced pieces? 

Avatar
GMBasix | 2 years ago
2 likes
RyanMallon wrote:

Bike symbols in the middle of shared use lanes, as transport journalist Carlton Reid pointed out on Twitter earlier today, are not a new phenomena in the United Kingdom, and have been in use since 1975.

phenomenon

Avatar
mdavidford replied to GMBasix | 2 years ago
10 likes
GMBasix wrote:

phenomenon

Doo Dooooo Do Doo-Doo

Avatar
GMBasix replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
6 likes
mdavidford wrote:
GMBasix wrote:

phenomenon

Doo Dooooo Do Doo-Doo

phenomenon

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to GMBasix | 2 years ago
7 likes
GMBasix wrote:
mdavidford wrote:
GMBasix wrote:

phenomenon

Doo Dooooo Do Doo-Doo

phenomenon

Doo-doo-dee-doo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTXyXuqfBLA

Avatar
Jetmans Dad replied to GMBasix | 1 year ago
3 likes
GMBasix wrote:
mdavidford wrote:
GMBasix wrote:

phenomenon

Doo Dooooo Do Doo-Doo

phenomenon

This exchange definitely should not make me laugh as much as it just did. 

Thank you. 

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IanGlasgow | 2 years ago
14 likes

Drivers: "Why can't cyclists share the road?"

Also drivers: " NoT LiKe ThAt!! ShArE iT bY GeTtiNg oUt Of mY wAy!!!"
 

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OnYerBike | 2 years ago
9 likes

Just from that one picture, it seems obvious to me that the separate bike lane turns off to the left through a modal filter, so cyclists who want to continue on the main road (following it round to the right) would not be using the bike lane and would be using the main carriageway instead.

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Dbloke | 2 years ago
10 likes

"Daily Mail"
Well if people will read something that spreads lies and hate

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Shake | 2 years ago
9 likes

If you actually cycle down there you will see you have to ride in the road because the cycle path is full parked cars despite the double yellows

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chrisonabike | 2 years ago
13 likes
road.cc wrote:

New road markings prompt Mail to ask, “is there any room left for cars?”

Fixed:

Growing number of cars (and growing cars) prompt Mail to ask, "is there any room left for more cars?"

Avatar
mdavidford replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
7 likes

Desperate hunt for clicks prompts Mail to ask, “is there any room left for cars?”

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Flintshire Boy replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
0 likes

.

The best selling paper in the country. 'Desperate hunt for clicks'. Sure, sure.

.

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mdavidford replied to Flintshire Boy | 2 years ago
1 like
Flintshire Boy wrote:

The best selling paper in the country.

Not saying much these days.

Avatar
GMBasix replied to Flintshire Boy | 2 years ago
6 likes
Flintshire Boy wrote:

 The best selling paper in the country. 'Desperate hunt for clicks'. Sure, sure. 

Best selling after Andrex.

Unlike Andrex, it arrives in a used state.

Avatar
eburtthebike | 2 years ago
14 likes

Misinformation about cycling, or lies as they are more commonly known, are rife the media, and as I'm sure we all know, it is almost impossible to get them corrected; £148.9m excepted.  The vast majority of the media in the UK is rabidly anti-cyclist, and must bear some responsibility for the hatred that many of us experience regularly.  As I've pointed out before, since they can't attack gays, coloureds or women any more, the next out group on the list is cyclists and I'm pretty sure we never used to get this level of abuse from the media when they could invent stories about them.

EDIT: they are attacking a council for encouraging cyclists to follow the new HC rules!

But there are two types of lies; commission and omission, and even media which doesn't attack cycling all that often e.g. BBC, will not give due prominence to cycling.  The cost of living crisis has been mentioned many time on R4, but I've never heard them suggest cycling as a way to cut costs; walking, public transport feature though.

I've just sent an email to the presenter of "Just One Thing" (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09by3yy/episodes/downloads) Michael Mosley, asking why they haven't yet had an item on cycling, since it is probably the single best way for most people to improve their life.  That's just one example, but the BBC is riddled with opportunities to report the incredible beneficial effects of cycling, individually, locally, regionally, nationally and globally, but those opportunities are never taken.  Electric cars however, get overwhelming coverage, despite having very few benefits.

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Awavey replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago
4 likes

The articles in the papers covering this which have all been copy & pasted around each other dont appear to be very factually based either, two of the choicest ones being Bournemouth spent 102 million on cycle lanes & one of these new painted symbols is next to a 7ft wide cycle lane.

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Surreyrider replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago
6 likes

What's most alarming is that there appears to be no official body - legal or industry - to prevent the lies and what amounts to inciting hatred. Oh wait, how about the police (ha ha)?

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vthejk replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
5 likes

Slight wrinkle: please don't ever call us 'coloureds,' no matter with how much irony.

But yes, I agree.

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Hirsute | 2 years ago
7 likes

I do check out the Echo pages from time to time and it is true there is no more room for cars. There are so many now, that congestion is constant and parking is a nightmare.

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hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
11 likes

Have they not heard of the climate catastrophe that we're in? Yes, we need to drastically reduce car and oil usage - are they really that selfish and self-absorbed?

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Surreyrider replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
8 likes

Yes

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IanMK replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
6 likes

Exactly this. We can't just carry on like there's not a problem. Find me other solutions. I can't believe that there aren't some journalists that want to run stories that criticise the car centric mind set. Do the editors genuinely believe that these stories will alienate readers? If that's the case then we really are fucked.

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Car Delenda Est replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
0 likes

Yes. If you were to ask these people why they disregard the facts they'd give you some story about about how it's Insulate Britain, Extinction Rebellion or Tire Extinguishers fault for making them too angry to care about anyone else.

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Brauchsel | 2 years ago
5 likes

'included in their headline the question: “Is there any room left for cars?”'

If only Betteridge's Law was true here. 

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OnYerBike replied to Brauchsel | 2 years ago
1 like

Although the answer isn't "no" I think that's simply because of the way they've phrased the headline and Betteridge's thesis still stands - i.e. "The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bullshit, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it."

Or as Andrew Marr put it "A headline with a question mark at the end means, in the vast majority of cases, that the story is tendentious or over-sold. It is often a scare story, or an attempt to elevate some run-of-the-mill piece of reporting into a national controversy and, preferably, a national panic."

Both would seem to be highly accurate descriptions of the headline.

In this case the (false) assertion would be "There is no room left for cars." That is clearly a load of bs and therefore has been rephrased as a question “Is there any room left for cars?” (which scans better than "Is there no room left for cars?", to which the answer would be "no" and Betteridge's law would hold true). 

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