Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Letter: Would-be cyclists put off by road dangers: from Ian Bullock
First published in the Argus on Monday 20 December 2004:

Letter: Would-be cyclists put off by road dangers

Adam Trimingham's piece (The Argus, December 15) is spot on. There are many problems with cycle lanes in Brighton and Hove as well as elsewhere.

Here are three examples:

1. The stretch behind the King Alfred in Hove, with all those little roads coming out on to the seafront, is positively dangerous. Also, the 90-degree turn coming east into the road down to the car park is difficult to negotiate even at minimal speed without hurting yourself on one or other of the metal posts.

2. Some of the old East Sussex cycle lanes which have been left in place are just a joke and one at least is potentially lethal. Coming into town along the A23 at the southern end of Preston Park, you're supposed to realise you need to cross over and then take the signposted route round the houses and eventually to Preston Circus. But there is a bit of old cycle lane left on the corner going up towards Ditchling Rise which - if you spotted it and misguidedly tried to use it - would leave you on the fast-lane side of the one-way traffic heading up towards Beaconsfield Road.

3. A major problem with Lewes Road - especially the notorious Coombe Terrace stretch and the new provision between Elm Grove and the gyratory - is routine parking in the cycle lanes on double-yellow lines. There seems to be zero enforcement of the parking restrictions.

Many people who have taken up cycling in recent years are genuinely scared of being on a busy road.

For them, not being able to use the cycle lanes properly because of parked vehicles is not just an irritation the way it is for me - it is a positive deterrent and must be even more so to those many folk who would like to use a bike but never quite pluck up the courage.

As for the "young outlaws" Adam mentions, they don't impress me.

I can remember the Forties and Fifties when half the police force seemed to be deployed catching cyclists riding without lights and cycling on the pavement, or jumping red lights.

So I can't see much derring-do in doing these things at a time when the constabulary are far too busy.

As long as you don't ride on the seafront, the chances of having to sprint like the late Reg Harris to avoid arrest are about the same as winning the lottery jackpot.

-Ian Bullock, Brighton

Saturday, 29 May 2004

First published in the Argus on Friday 28 May 2004:
Letter: Let councillors ride in death trap cycle lanes

I was interested to see the letters from Dave Duggan and Councillor Craig Turton (Letters, May 21).

Coun Turton assures us that the council is committed to encouraging alternative transport but isn't it time he opened his eyes to the fact the reason people don't use the cycle tracks is that they are death traps?

Any serious cyclist can tell Coun Turton where the most dangerous places to cycle are - the metre of road nearest the kerb has the steepest camber and all the drains.

A pavement full of meandering and inattentive pedestrians with dogs and children running around is obviously not safe to cycle on.

The metre of road next to parked cars has obvious dangers from motorists throwing car doors open and people stepping out between cars.

So where has the council put cycle lanes? The ones in Preston Road are nearest the kerb. The one along the seafront, where Dave Duggan has had accidents in the past, is on a pavement which many people want to use for a quiet stroll.

A few years ago I witnessed an accident in Church Road outside Hove Library, when a motorist flung his door open and knocked a cyclist off. She had been cycling right next to the parked cars, where the cycle lane is now.

The overriding design consideration has obviously been "we can't take too much road away from car drivers can we." But isn't it time the people who design cycle tracks actually gave some serious thought to making them safe for cyclists?

Many of those we have at the present are barely as wide as a pair of handlebars so a large vehicle travelling close to the cycle track is likely to strike the side of any cyclist using it. They have limited signage to warn pedestrians or motorists that they should keep out. There is nothing to stop motorists from parking across them and they seem to start and finish without any consideration as to where cyclists should go next. In fact most of them are far more dangerous than just cycling on the road and dicing with the cars.

So, before Coun Turton and his colleagues on the environment committee spend any more of our money on narrow strips of red tarmac, they should get some bikes and try out some of these death tracks themselves. If they survive the experience, they may be better qualified to pontificate about safety and alternative transport.

-Ian James, Portslade

Sunday, 23 May 2004

The Observer: Scandal of our deadly cycle lanes: "The dangerous road layout that has claimed one life in London is now being promoted across the country as a model of good design"
Greenfield Avenue cycle lane - a weird one from Stourbridge.

Saturday, 22 May 2004

Share our promenade
First published on Friday 21 May 2004:

Letter: Share our promenade
I hope the police community safety officers play fair and politely remind pedestrians that the cycle lanes are for cyclists.

After all, they have the lion's share of the promenade as it is and can walk three or four abreast, chatting to each other.

On the cycle lane there is just enough room for two cyclists to pass going in opposite directions.

-Lis Cole, Hove"
Fine pedestrians as well
First published on Friday 21 May 2004:

Letter: Fine pedestrians as well
If police have time to fine cyclists for not using the cycle lanes, why not fine pedestrians using the cycling lane?

The cycle lane is there so pedestrians don't get hurt.

-Omar Anabtawi, Hove."
Cycling on the prom is expensive: First published in the Argus on Friday 21 May 2004:

Letter: Cycling on the prom is expensive
The silly season is truly here early this year. In the past two years I have had two serious accidents while cycling on the seafront.

On the first occasion an Australian tourist ran across the road and straight into me and my bike. It took another passer-by to untangle her from the spokes and �65 for me to get my bike working again.

The second occasion a woman pushed her trendy pram straight at me, catching my chain and necessitating a new set of gears.

Where was I cycling? On the council-provided cycle lane between the piers, of course.

Ask any regular cyclist what experience they have of this dreaded lane and they will tell you it is safer to cycle on the broader stretch of seafront prom than risk the oblivious and often aggressive attitude of pedestrians who dominate the cycle lane.

Next time I'm approached when cycling 'illegally', I will not pay a fine but will present Brighton and Hove City Council with the accumulated costs incurred by me for cycling in designated cycle lanes where pedestrians are not warned of the existence of the cycle lane, nor challenged when they flout it in their thousands every day in the summer.

It is safer to cycle on the prom. There is room to predict and react to those around you.

-Dave Dugan, Kemp Town"
Enjoyment for all: "
First published in the Argus on Friday 21 May 2004:

Letter: Enjoyment for all
I agree with Mr John Lemonius (Letters, May 14) that one of the nicest pastimes this time of year is to cycle along the seafront - and there is a perfectly good cycle lane on which to do it.

The problems come when cyclists speed along the promenade endangering people out for a stroll. It is clearly signposted so there should be no doubt cycling there is illegal.

The council and the police must ensure our seafront is safe for everyone who wants to use it. Indeed, it is local residents who asked the council and police to take this action.

Would Mr Lemonius rather see The Argus reporting a serious pedestrian injury due to a speeding cyclist or that we are taking steps to prevent potential conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists?

I can also assure Mr Lemonius that this Council is committed to encouraging alternative forms of transport to the car.

We are creating more cycle lanes, safer crossing points and junctions for cyclists and pedestrians and improving public transport through our local partnerships.

Our promenade is entering its busiest period for visitors. Not taking action to discourage illegal cycling would increase the chances of an accident.

As a City that attracts thousands of visitors to our seafront, we would like everyone to enjoy their summer on the beach whether they walk or cycle.

-Councillor Craig Turton, Deputy chairman, environment committee"

Saturday, 15 May 2004

Letter: Mon dieu:
First published on Friday 14 May 2004:

Letter: Mon dieu

I disagree with the Police fining cyclists riding 'two or three abreast at 30mph' along the promenade.

If they can attain such speeds they shouldn't be penalised, they should be encouraged to enter the Tour De France.

-Jo Burt, Southwick
Letter: Police should stop wasting time targeting cyclists

First published on Friday 14 May 2004:

Letter: Police should stop wasting time targeting cyclists

Have the police really got nothing better to do?

I thought we were supposed to be encouraging people to get out of their cars and get some exercise.

What could be nicer than cycling along the seafront amidst the roller bladers, joggers and walkers?

I was in Munich last month and was amazed and delighted by the number of people on bikes - all shapes and ages - and happily mixing with other park users without the need to single them out.

Coincidentally there didn't appear to be much traffic in the centre of Munich either.

Will the police be issuing fines to the pedestrians who amble aimlessly into the cycle lanes?

Or what about wobbling roller bladers careering from one side of the prom to the other?

Sure - have a stern word with cyclists who 'ride two or three abreast at 30mph' (are they maybe being confused with bikes that have engines?), but please don't do any more to discourage people from getting out of their cars and on to healthier and more environmentally friendly modes of transport.

-John Lemonius, Steyning, www.totallyspoked.com

Tuesday, 11 May 2004

This presumably refers to the ultra-wide Hove esplanade?

Bike-lane rebels cop �30 tickets: First published in The Argus on Monday 10 May 2004:

Bike-lane rebels cop �30 tickets
by Huw Borland

Cyclists riding illegally were given �30 on the spot fines during a police operation on Brighton and Hove seafront.

Police Community Safety Officers on bikes yesterday issued tickets which have to be paid within 28 days.

PSCOs Ben Mitchell and Nick Packham issued a fine within minutes of starting their patrol, when a cyclist refused to leave the promenade.

Mr Mitchell said: 'The fines are a little unexpected for people and they say they did not know the rules but there are enough signs.

'We just explain that they have to use the cycle lane. If we see them do it a second or a third time, we use strict penalties.

'People do go along here at ridiculous speed. When they ride two or three abreast at 30mph, it's simply dangerous.

'We're trying to make the promenade safer for everyone.'

The cycling ban on the promenade was introduced to prevent accidents and make walkers feel safer.

But pedestrian and father-of-two Matt Taylor, 39, of Brighton, was annoyed.

He said: 'I think �30 is too extreme. The promenade is a lovely place to ride a bicycle.

'As long as they take due care, it's a shame to take it away from cyclists. The council put a cycle lane by the road when there is enough room on the promenade.

'Everyone likes to jog or roller-blade along here but you cannot ride. Having the cycle lane by the road is encouraging people to break the rules.'

Cyclist Albino Monteiro, 38, of Hove, said people who disobeyed the rules should be penalised and felt it was important to keep walkers and bikes apart.

He said: 'If cyclists have been told once and they do not do as they are told, they deserve a fine.

'The cycle lane has been made for us so we should use it. Cyclists should respect the laws. That's how you stop people getting hurt.'

Mr Mitchell said random police patrols to enforce the cycling ban could be expected throughout the summer."

Wednesday, 21 April 2004

This adds chapter and verse to the statement made on 2 April by Mr Valentine: Worthing Cycle Campaign - Newsletter: "On 28th July 1995 a visiting lady, Mrs Beet, was knocked over by a speeding cyclist while walking on the Promenade near the Pavilion Theatre. She suffered head injuries and featured on the front page of the Worthing Herald. Following this accident the Borough Council decided to close the cycle lane to review the situation."
There has been a lot of talk about making cycle helmets compulsory. Sounds logical? But this site argues the case against.
I had to get up at the crack of dawn this morning to talk on BBC Southern Counties radio -- Worthing has opened a stretch of cycle lane on the prom. I know nothing about Worthing, so I said I thought all this pedestrians versus cyclists versus motorists antagonism was all about territory! To create cycle lanes, the planners have to steal a bit of land from an existing pavement, annoying the walkers, or from an existing road, annoying the motorists! I also mentioned the old chestnut about drivers thinking they own the road because they pay 'road tax', when in fact it's motor vehicle licence/excise duty, based on the environmental impact the vehicle has on the roads and air. On this basis, cyclists should get a rebate!

Friday, 16 April 2004

Strange advertising video featuring cyclists watching stupid car: oneintwelve

Friday, 9 April 2004

Stuart Field writes:
Bicycle queen buried with royal pump (sorry, pomp)

'If you go to Google News (http://news.google.com) and
search for 'bicycle queen' you get the above headline.
Incidentally the Dutch for "pump" is actually "pomp"
("bicycle pump" is "fietspomp").'

'Some comments on one or two other pictures:
Your picture of the mystery foreign bike path with the
arrow pointing into the bollards is almost certainly
somewhere in Belgium (judging by the appearance of the
locomotive, houses and cycle path itself).'

'Since the picture of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam was
taken, there has been a protest against the closure of
that bicycle path under the arches of the museum. The
museum is being restored, so the path is closed for
the time being. After restoration the path will reopen
but will be narrower, with a "glass corridor" for
cyclists to go through.'

Added some new photos of the resurfaced seafront cycle lane, and moved the other front page pix to other sections, including a new section on 'Dead bikes'.

Tuesday, 6 April 2004

Plymouth is pothole city, according to CTC, Devon District.

Friday, 2 April 2004

Email received:
Dear Mr. Pipes,

I would appreciate your comments concerning the persistent problem of cyclist illegally riding on the pavement in Brighton. This problem is particularly bad along Queens Road, Air Street and the entire length of the seafront from King Alfreds to Madeira Drive (and beyond).

I have been scarred for life by a cyclist who collided with me when I was walking my dog along Brighton seafront. At the material time I was walking along the lower promenade between the piers. My Grandmother (some months before her death) refused a trip in her wheelchair along Hove seafront due to the real risk of injury by illegal cyclists. I am aware of many other victims of illegal cyclists. A week ago my right shoulder was sprained courtesy of a local cyclist. The cyclist threatened to assault me again if he saw me near his seafront. On weekends and evening cyclists illegal cyclists pass by at speeds in excess of 20mph every 3 � 5 seconds according to my own survey. Many cyclists ride �hands free� whilst talking on their mobile telephones.

As a cyclist I cannot understand the mentality of cyclists who flout the law. Some cyclists may claim that the roads are too dangerous. This does not bare rational analysis; cycling on the pavement exposes vulnerable pedestrians to an unnecessary risk of injury with no prospect of remedy (either by compensation or punishment of the offender) in the event of an accident. At the very least any responsible cyclist must have a competent knowledge of the Highway Code, wear a helmet and equip his / her bicycle with legal lights and reflectors.

I agree with the comments regarding the cycle lanes. A local councillor has suggested that the cycle lanes along the seafront are a mistake and have merely encouraged cyclists to stray and enter the lower promenade. Worthing Council abolished seafront cycle lanes following the death of an elderly woman in 2001 as a result of a collision with a cyclist. Brighton & Hove City Council are partly responsible for failing to provide adequate signs along the seafront. Nevertheless, I have sent a cd packed with photos of cyclists riding over the �no cycling� sign on Hove seafront near the Meeting House Caf� to Sussex Police for eventual use by the Crown Prosecution Service.

I believe that the problem may be mitigated by a combination of tactics including on the spot fines for illegal cyclists, the issuing of Cautions, confiscation of bicycles and public education. The Police can make use of the seafront CCTV system to monitor this problem. I wonder what happened to the National Cycling Proficiency Test scheme (which I passed in 1984)?

In the near future I will be meeting David Lepper MP to discuss the above with reference to the Councils proposals to invoke the Crime & Disorder Act 2001 against illegal cyclist.

I am very impressed by your website and content.

Kind Regards

Martyn Valentine

My reply:
thanks -- my beef is that the cycle lanes in Brighton and Hove are a retro-fit compromise, and don't join up (hence the temptation to stay on the pavement until the next stretch, rather than constantly dismounting and remounting). In Holland and elsewhere they would be separated from the road, and the pavement! I do however find the 'no cycling' along Hove esplanade very restrictive -- it is very wide and there is plenty of room for cyclists, wheelchair users, skateboarders, roller skaters and pedestrians walking their dogs to co-exist peacefully -- but that is my personal view. I do not condone breaking the law or jumping red lights, but the road system could be a lot more cyclist-friendly, especially with contra-flows along one-way streets -- which would remove the need to use the pavement. Accidents do happen, but think yourself lucky you weren't hit by a car -- the consequences could have been far more serious -- if more people used bikes, they would be a lot healthier and there would be less threat to public safety and the environment!

Perhaps you might like to join Bricycles (of which I am a member but do not represent) and help lobby the council for better cycle lane provision and cyclist training?



Sunday, 25 January 2004

Why cyclists won't stop: a paper by Chris Juden, CTC's Technical Officer -- a link from...
Cycle Path Design The quality of cycle path design varies-- a few examples of both the good and the 'iffy'.

Thursday, 15 January 2004

Jason Patient Photography -- nice image of geese on a cyclelane! ...from this fine site: Bike Reader