Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Aargh! Where's the cycle lane gone?

Or 'Why I fear that Going Dutch could screw up in London', Take my word for it, it'll screw up if our highway engineers slavishly follow  the D(a)fT standards.

Westminster Council have just resurfaced the roundabout on Sutherland Road in Maida Vale, with the cycle lane just as it was before, and today a taxi-driver, turning left, and myself, going straight on, shared one of those London 'who goes first?' frisson of fear moments.

For amusement I'd taken the cycle lane that skirts the edge of the roundabout, and comes off, as shown, in the direction I was travelling:

The cycle lane then appears to come to an abrupt stop at the T-junction, where the taxi was adjacent to me and wanting to turn left. I'm wondering if he expects me to give way to him now now I've (seemingly) run out of lane and from the look on his face and the movement of this vehicle I can see he's thinking the same;

The thing is, I know that the cycle lane markings have disappeared because the powers that be stupidly say you don't have them where there are Zig-Zag markings for a Zebra, and I know they reappear after it (not that you can see it at this point).

However, this is clearly a subtle distinction of the type that the average road user will, quite understandably, have no idea about - it just looks like the bike lane's ended and the traffic's merging..

So I give a Paddington hard stare at the driver and pedal forwards in an assertive fashion, while subtly slowing in case the driver decides to turn and I need to stop.

Tomorrow I could take my primary school cycle trainees to this spot and see if they can grasp the nuances of using this cycling lane, but I don't think I will.

If you don't want to go to Maida Vale to experience this confusion, simply cycle over Lambeth Bridge towards Millbank Roundabout and ask yourself whether the cycle lane continues invisibly to the left-hook position on the roundabout or stops at the end of the white line where the zig-zags begin - I'll bet even TfL can't tell you what they intend here or why.


1 comment:

David Arditti said...

Yes, this is one of many small technical details of road marking procedure in the UK that mitigates against proper cycle lanes.

Another is the fact that you have to have yellow lines in cycle lanes to prevent parking (if parking is restricted at all) which just takes useable space out of the lane and creates extra slip hazards and fuss on the road. Far better just to have the Dutch rule: a cycle lane of any type means NO PARKING ever. No need for more markings. It's a simple concept that everybody understands there.

If the DfT got hold of these regulations from a cycle-friendly perspective and reformed them, they would not only make cycling safer, but simplify the road markings and save money. But at the moment there are too few people there who understand cycling for that to be in prospect.