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

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