I have raised this topic again because I have today used the junction of a large traffic island near to our town. The County Council, in all its wisdom, decided that it will be safer to have the island traffic-lights controlled; and cyclist safety plays no small part in reasons for the revamp. One of our local councillors expressed his doubts, and I supported him.
Now that the white lines for the lanes (which we know all drivers and cyclists will obey), have been painted, along with the short 'ain't going nowhere' markings for cyclists, one bit of the markings horrified me. Coming onto the island there are three lanes - left, straight on, and right. Between the kerb and left lane there is a short cycle lane just cyclists turning left. Then, on approaching the island, there is a narrow cycle lane between the left and straight on vehicle lanes. I assume this lane is for cyclists going straight on. It is common for large vehicles to be in any of the vehicle lanes, and very often alongside each other. It terrifies me at the thought of a cyclist being in this lane with a large vehicle on either side of him/her.
When cyclists are riding very slowly, they tend to wobble slightly. Also, what happens if the driver of a large vehicle decides to change lanes when adjacent to this cycle lane? Here I am also thinking of dark hours and the incidence of cyclists having poor lights, or no lights at all. The potential dangers are there in daylight - after dark they are frightening.
I've just been speaking to my local councillor about my fears over this new layout. He said that the County Council had studied the matter in great detail and feel they've got it right. My reply was that they often think they've got things right, then have to change them again - and that I hope some poor devil doesn't have to pay the price for them to acknowledge their errors.
Whilst in discussion, it suddenly occurred to me that a cyclist in the cycle lane next to the kerb could be crushed if an articulated lorry made a left turn at the inappropriate moment. I told him that on some of the marked lanes it can be difficult to 'stay in place' with just a caravan in tow - and an articulated lorry's rear wheels are a lot further back from the tractor unit than are a caravan wheels from the rear wheels of its tow car - thus the rear wheels of the lorry trailer will take a significantly tighter turn.
I do wonder what skills these road layout designers have in appreciating exactly how drivers (and cyclists) actually use the roads, as opposed to the reality.
I certainly agree with most of what you say, and I wonder whether any cyclists will be brave enough to use those lanes.
On the point about trailers cutting in though; I would say that a semi-trailer with three axles (nearly all of them these days) cuts in much less than you think, and certainly less than a caravan on the back of a hatchback. The reason is that the three axles really want to stay straight, and have to be dragged round, where the single axle of a caravan has no such resistance. I use a hatchback in my example because the distance between the towball and the rear axle makes a big difference.
I tried without success to find an illustrated example, so I can only rely on my own experience of towing both kinds of trailer.
I should add, however that there are still a few semi-trailers, which have two axles right at the rear. They design them like this for operational reasons but they are universally considered by lorry drivers to be a pig to drive, because of the cut-in.
The designers of that road layout should be made to cycle and drive around that roundabout on alternate days for at least a month.
Santa, in the last couple of years or so, the County Council have made a few road alterations which, if I didn't believe better, I would say were designed to cause RTCs. The main road through our small town carries major traffic to and from local businesses, apart from those using it as a cut-through between the A6 and the A426/M1/M69.
Along this road, on either side of a overhead railway bridge, there is a chicane. These two chicanes do not form a 'nip' to make traffic wait in one direction, but work in such away that large vehicles are forced into the oncoming traffic as they steer around the chicanes.
With no form of indicated 'give way', there is no warning of a large vehicle encroaching into the opposite lane except for driver awareness. I use this road when I travel to the M1 or M69 with my caravan in tow. In order to avoid my caravan wheels hitting the raised kerbs of the chicanes, I have to steer well into the opposite lane before turning my steering wheel to the left to return fully back into my correct lane.
Not content with this hazard, on the short straight to reach the A426, the council introduced protrusions of the kerb on both sides and staggered. Centrally placed on each of the kerbed and tarmaced protrusions they installed a single black bollard, with red reflectors.
Most of these bollards are long gone (probably due to vandalism). Now, during bad weather with bad visibility, including snow when it can drift and completely hide any semblance of a protruding kerb, a driver strange to the area and at night, could very easily hit these kerbs, causing damage or even loss of control. As for motorcyclists, they could be seriously hurt, or worse.
In other parts of the district, they have installed "Think Bike" signs. In my cynicism, I cannot help concluding that it is not acceptable for a motorist to bring down a motorcyclist, but they are fair game for being mauled by road design traps.
Since the council must be aware of the missing bollards, I would expect them to be held liable in the circumstances you describe.
So would I, Santa, but things don't always work that way in practice, and councils soon apply the 'wriggle factor'.
Originally Posted by Santa
Some time ago, the unsatisfactory arrangements for "guarding" a broken drain resulted in surface damage to my front alloy wheel. Fortunately, it was not distorted or rendered unsafe in any way.
After going through the reporting performance, where I told the council that a new wheel (approx. £360) was not necessary and that I had obtained a quote of £25 for a cosmetic repair, the council refused to pay out. Their excuse was that they had not previously been informed of the hazard, so were not responsible until a complaint had been made.
Rather similar to the case of a driver who hits a deer is not allowed to take possession of it, but a following vehicle driver can do so.
I was disgusted by their principle, but how much hassle do you tolerate for twenty-five quid?
So I expect, in the (hopefully not) event of some poor unfortunate falling foul of one of these protruding kerbs, the same brush-off will apply.
Yes - If they are not aware, they can't be expected to fix it. This is pretty well known I thought. Have you reported the problem?
I did complain about the chicane danger, but it was ignored. The bollards - no. Funny thing is, police cars regularly use this road on routine journeys, and at some stage must have met large lorries that enter the opposite carriageway to negotiate the chicanes. And if I have noticed the missing bollards and the attendant dangers, why have the police not raised the matter. Ha, perhaps they have and been similarly ignored.
Originally Posted by Santa
On the subject of large vehicles turning left on the island and entering a cycle lane, this afternoon I took the bus into town. Sitting on the lower deck, and against a left hand window, I noticed that the bus went well into the cycle lane whilst going left around the island. It has to be stressed that, at this point, the driver will be watching the lights, when they are in operation, and another forward view distraction cannot be ruled out. Never mind about "Think Bike" promotions - it looks to me as if the council have created the need for a warning to cyclists, "Think Bus and Lorry".
Cyclists should have "Think Bus and Lorry" tattooed somewhere. I am sure you have seen some of the videos of them risking their lives to gain a few yards. Death wish comes to mind for some of them.
As I mentioned in post #31, that I have spoken to my councillor again, he seems to have softened his views in favour of the County council planners. I told him that my main concern for the putting-up of traffic lights on the island is that many drivers seem to 'go' regardless when they have a green light in their favour (assumed right-of-way and all that), and that cyclists will still carry on as before, regardless what a traffic light indicates. This factor, along with these Kamikarzi cycle lanes are, I told him, a recipe for someone being killed. He said he hoped not, and I agreed with him, but pointed out that hoping does not resolve a problem or protect lives.
Originally Posted by Santa
N.B. Had to change wording to 'putting-up', as filter saw the single obvious word as being naughty - but the row of stars could have given the idea that I was being rude!
Last edited by Snowball; 14-12-13 at 10:05.