a number of years ago, while participating in the annual braveheart ride, the route took us onto a newly constructed cycle-path alongside the old a77 road that squirrels around the nether regions of kilmarnock. with the latter having been superseded by the m77, it seems that certain aspects of the old route required a modicum of tidying up, one benefit of which was the aforementioned cycle lane.
though the tarmac'd path was separated from the roadway by means of a concrete kerb, the developers had thoughtfully inserted frequent gaps in this kerb, allowing for any necessitous, yet unexpected egress. which was just as well, for plonked squarely in the centre of this reputedly cycle-only passageway, was a contractor's van. naturally enough, this vehicle was unoccupied and strategically placed to prevent anything other than a rogue hamster from passing. at this point, we'd to leave the relative safety of the cycle-lane and join the motorised throng, admittedly a less than onerous option, but that's scarcely the point.
in britain, we suffer from a narrowness of roads. in urban and city locations, this is a heritable condition brought on by those having never been originally considered for motorised traffic in the first place. therefore, now that they have need of coping with such vehicular traffic, attempting to add in some designated cycle lanes is a bit like pouring a quart into a pint pot. and don't we know it. america, on the other hand, and in this case i'm selectively thnking of portland, oregon, not only has a history of larger motor cars, but road widths to match. thus, in downtown portland, both sides of the roads have parking, then the cycle lanes, then the area designated for the motorists.
though i'd have to have words with my portland friends, i believe cars and bicycles tend to co-exist with less friction than is often reported in the british press. the problem on this side of the atlantic is the esteem with which cycle lanes are held; in other words, none whatsoever. and in this i refer to both drivers and cyclists.
i'm sure most, if not all of us, have come across the "why don't you lot pay road tax?" admonishment frequently received from those behind the steering wheel. the non-existence of road tax notwithstanding (it ended in the 1930s; roads are now funded from general taxation), words that, extended to their logical conclusion, are surely aimed at getting cyclists off the road. so you'd think that the existence of a cohesive network of cycle paths and lanes across the country would keep everybody happy. but it transpires that many cyclists are less than enthused about such a prospect, frequently resting on a sense of macho arrogance. "why am i, aboard my di2 equipped colnago concept, relegated to a cycle lane, in amongst schoolkids on bicycle-shaped objects and mums doing the shopping?"
but in essence, the part that prevents a nation of velocipedinists from wholesale adoption of a cohesive network of cycle paths is the almost total lack of any cohesiveness. or network. it's a less than satisfactory state of affairs originally laid bare by the original 'crap cycle lanes' published a decade ago. in those ten years, very little has improved; in fact, there's every evidence to show that things may have become steadily worse, hence this latest publication from eye books 'crapper cycle lanes'. if you're new to the subject, you will scarcely believe some of the howlers incorporated in this excellent little hardback.
the cover shows a green painted cycle lane that lasts all of about ten metres, serving no purpose whatsoever. each illustration is categorised under three distinct headings: hazard level, goof level and remedy. though i cannot deny i found that classifying the goof level as jeremy, govey, boris or nigel as just a tad inexplicable (i probably need to get out more), i doubt anything could completely detract from the ineptitude and humour of the illustrations. perhaps the most bizarre example (according to my opinion) is one from swindon.
"The bike lane does seem to come to a rather abrupt halt, but then it has entered a one-way street going the other way. So. Bollards."
we must fervently hope that the wish of rod king, founder of 'twenty's plenty for us' and author of the book's foreword, does indeed come to pass. "...we hope it will be the last of its kind we ever need to publish."
friday 25 november 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................