Wednesday, 11 June 2003

From Mark Strong:

I noticed on one of my periodic visits to your weird cycle lane site that Leo Hartas has sent you two photos of the cycle contraflow in Hampden Road.

This is NOT a weird cycle lane - without it Hampden Road would be one-way for bikes as well as cars closing of a VERY useful link for cyclists. I got it installed around 10 years ago when the Hanover traffic calming scheme was drawn up. There is a good route for bikes between Lewes Road and Kemptown, which runs up Franklin Road, along de Montford Road, across Elm Grove, and along Hampden Road, Grove Street and John Street. Although a bit hillier than the Old Steine, it is much quieter and of course runs right through Hanover (so you can pop into a decent pub on the way or do some yoga at the Community Centre!).

When the traffic calming scheme was proposed the streets next to Elm Grove were all going to be one-way which would have ruled out this route. I persuaded the council to make Hampden Road two-way for bikes (actually the officer said he had been going to do it anyway but had "forgotten about bikes").

However, in order to allow two-way cycling in an one-way road you need to have a separate bit of contraflow lane with a traffic island as cyclists aren't legally allowed through no-entry signs (as can be seen in the Hampden Road pictures). Technically the road is two-way for all traffic between the two ends, but one-way for cars at the road junctions only (i.e. a driver could legally do a u-turn, drive to the other end of the street, do another u-turn, etc. - but don't tell them that! Incidentally because of this there should be white triangles on the speed humps in both directions - when I pointed this out the enigneer said, "yes, but then the motorists will realise it's actually two-way"...). Recently the rules have changed a bit to allow islands without bollards as in Church Street or even just a white line and a sign. These are called "cycle plugs".

This example highlights a general problem with your site. Obviously many of the examples are genuinely rubbish and due to engineers not understanding cyclists, not caring, or just being stupid. But others are misunderstood by everyone - including cyclists - or are due to the over-engineered requirements of UK highway law - Hampden Road is both. But please remember the choice in Hampden Road at the time was between the over-engineered lane or a one-way road, which would have been FAR worse for cyclists.

The situation in Hampden Road isn't helped by the missing bollards which were knocked down about 2 years ago and not replaced, nor by the worn-out cycle markings and the absence of a marked out cycle lane - so drivers think that cyclists going the "wrong-way" (see above) are illegal. I have been shouted at a number of times when cycling towards Elm Grove but as I've explained above it's a bit complex to shout back the whole story! The lane was also designed without taking the hill into account, so it's good if you're coming from Grove Street, but in the wrong place downhill from Islingword Road.

I'm not asking you to research every photo you put up, just to note that there is often a story behind them which means that things are sometimes not as simple as they seem.

On the other hand, some of the other example are just awful, particularly the bus stop in Bracknell... So keep going, but I might just send some more comments from time to time!


Sunday, 1 June 2003

Fianally added Tim Alburn's pix of France and Holland.