Monday 27 September 2010

The True State of Waltham Forest's cycle provision

A kindly neighbour, who knows I cycle, said the other day that he was pleased the council was trying to help cyclists stay safe by providing cycle lanes and paths. He didn't expect the 20 minute tirade against the council, TfL and anyone else involved in cycle provision. It was clear that only politeness was stopping him moving swiftly away, but I didn't care - I was going to have my rant whether or not it was wanted.

Anyway, the cycle lane in Forest Road - near, of all things, the council offices - demonstrates my point effectively. We start off with this..

The council have "implemented" a two-way cycle path on the pavement.  In the background it can be just seen that it is interrupted by an entrance that is now blocked, but still the council have a "give-way" on the cycle markings. Then there is a giveway because a bus-stop is in the middle of the cycle path. Finally, the council seem a bit half-hearted about even marking out the path in paint, the delineation just seems to end for no reason.

Then the cycle path crosses the path of a pedestrian crossing on the junction

Numerous give-ways here as well. And the path narrows so the cycleway is frequently completely blocked by the numerous students and pedestrians using the pathway to get to the college and council buildings. Also note the pole in the cycle-lane. Useful.

Finally, the pavement narrows further, so the cycle path goes back onto the main road

The bus driver has considerately highlighted the problem with this piece of "provision". The cycle lane not only crosses the whole pavement, thus conflicting with pedestrians, but then the lane magically starts up on the road whilst the roadway goes from 2 to 1 lane after the junction - therefore this cycleway is normally encroached upon by fast moving vehicles. Would you like to use this whilst the bus is in that position? The cyclist is expected to either stop and look to see if they are going to mown down, or somehow manage to swivel their heads 180 degrees to see traffic behind them as they enter the road. Something which, unless the cyclist is an owl, is unlikely to be anatomically possible.

The whole thing is just an utter shambles, presumably the workings of a hyperactive six-year old with a set-square and a crayon. It also defies belief because this cycle path was designed and built. It wasn't just put down on the existing tarmac pavement, the grass verge was altered to accommodate it, whilst the kerbstones and tarmac were relaid. How insane is that? I mean this utter crap provision which puts cyclists both in danger with vehicles and in conflict with pedestrians was actually designed by someone. 

What is even more insane, is that the road here is wide. As evidenced by the fact that this appalling cycle path has a pretty wide cycle-lane running on the road next to it (seen in picture1). This cycle-lane fizzles out at the junction where the traffic going straight on gets 2 lanes, and a third is for traffic turning right.

So, the cycle-lane in the road, that is perfectly adequate, could have been extended, by removing one of the 2 traffic lanes going forward, and continuing it across the junction. It could even be separated by a kerb so that it could bypass the lights with its own cycle lights to stop cyclists on the pedestrian phase only. This would be genuinely convenient and safe. It wouldn't even inconvenience drivers very much as the two lanes are very short and disappear straight after the junction.

But instead the council spent money and time dreaming up this bizarre rubbish. It really defies belief. All this does is take room away from pedestrians, and put cyclists in direct conflict with them. Does anyone who works for Waltham Forest transport division actually know what a cycle is? 

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