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TOPIC: Cycle lanes rage: Time to apply the brakes

Cycle lanes rage: Time to apply the brakes 18 May 2017 00:28 #3018

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author
Rage against cycle lanes is growing more poisonous and even dangerous. Community leaders should be doing their best to turn down the heat, not taking actions that help keep the pot boiling.

Last week two respected citizens of Enfield, who both play significant community roles, mischievously uploaded similar photographs to their Facebook pages and asked for comments, sparking some extremely distasteful responses from readers, including calls for car drivers to deliberately run over cyclists.

Why do I say "mischievously"? All they did was upload photographs of cyclists riding along the A105 adjacent to sections of cycle lane, but using the main part of the carriageway. What's wrong with that? What's wrong is that the supposed misbehaviour of a tiny sample of the cycling public was being used to blacken the reputation of cyclists in general, as a way of whipping up the anti-cycle lanes frenzy. Which they certainly succeeded in doing.

Below is a selection of the worst posts:

hit him with the car he is in the wrong

bikes shouldnt be on the road in the first place

I would bib them off the road...plebs

Yeh why dont the f****g bikes use there lane lane

Knock the pricks over if I'm honest they shouldn't be there should be in cycle lane

They not cyclists , they are arseholes !!!

Yes if the pedal pushing twats don't use the bike lane all motorists are allowed to
drive with one side of the car in the bike lane and the other side on the road and if any bike twats
get in the way squash them


As it happens, the cyclists were completely within their rights, as it is not illegal to not use cycle lanes when available (though it is illegal to take photographs on a mobile phone while driving!) The largish group of cyclists in one of the pictures look like serious riders used to travelling along main roads at some speed, and the narrow cycle lanes would have impeded them. In any case, there are only shortish sections of cycle lane complete at the moment, and some of them still have obstructions.

But the main point is that the fact that some riders choose to ignore cycle lanes is completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not cycle lanes are a good idea, since one of the primary aims of Cycle Enfield is to encourage use of bikes by people who are currently put off by the perceived (and real) risks of sharing the road with cars and lorries.

Also completely irrelevant is the fact that some cyclists are self-centred, rude and disregard the safety of other road users, for example by running red lights. Other anti-cycle lanes activists have pointed out incidents involving boorish cyclists as if they had some bearing on the question of whether or not we should be protecting the vast majority of people who ride bikes in a considerate way. Some even suggest that bicycles should be entirely banned from roads. Would they ban cars from roads too? After all, there are many car drivers who behave badly on the roads, but it would be wrong to use them to blacken the reputations of all drivers.

Returning to our two community leaders and their Facebook pages. When the offensive posts were pointed out to him, one of the page owners did the right thing and immediately removed the entire thread, thus acknowledging that its effect had been malign, even if the intention had not been. The other page owner, after several days and repeated requests to do the same, eventually deleted the most offensive posts, but left most of the thread intact, still full of angry remarks that do nothing to further rational debate about cycle lanes.

And, of course, there is a valid debate to be had about the cycle lanes: whether any negative consequences outweight the positives, and whether they represent money well spent. But at this stage, with the A105 scheme half built, there is absolutely nothing to say either for or against that hasn't already been said several times already and just repeating the same argument doesn't make it any "righter" (except to Donald Trump). The sensible thing to do is wait until the A105 is finished, give it a couple of weeks for road users to get used to it, then begin to assess what positive and negative impacts it turns out to have in practice. The lessons learned from seeing a complete scheme in operation can then be applied to future policymaking.

It is totally irresponsible to stoke up rage directed not just at the council, but at "cyclists", who are not some sort of race apart, but consist of millions of ordinary people. We've seen the effects of "othering" groups of people on the basis of a single one of their many characteristics - it leads to murderous attacks on disabled people, Muslims, Jews, Poles and Czechs, supporters of the European Union and other "minority" groups. And we read in the papers only last week about a case where a woman was jailed for deliberately running over a cyclist in North London.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Adrian Day

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Cycle lanes rage: Time to apply the brakes 18 May 2017 12:11 #3023

Refreshing to hear a voice of sanity and calm.....thank you Basil

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Cycle lanes rage: Time to apply the brakes 19 May 2017 14:39 #3025

Appalling from Cllr Andy Milne.

He refused to take down his 'blame game' post for several days or condemn or denounce this incitement of violence.

It was only the intervention of Better Streets for Enfield that caused him to change his tune.

Full article here:

betterstreets.co.uk/stop-the-hate/

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Cycle lanes rage: Time to apply the brakes 10 Jun 2019 12:51 #4582

There is a safety issue at the heart of this however. By building the lanes in the first place the council reduced the width of most of the roads thereby putting vehicles much closer to the cyclists who don't use the lanes which is not what they were intended to do. ie compromise safety.

It is ironic that the police were running recently an exercise in Bourne Hill to educate motorists not to get too close to cyclists. Fair enough there are no lanes there but the same initiative could not have been done in Green Lanes.

I am not condoning the behaviour of these people mentioned in the post, just stating that for most motorists who are not aware of the rules of the road it appears more dangerous to have to pass by cyclists when the road width is reduced by the provision of the lanes.

Also the piece says only shortish sections of the A105 are usable. That is untrue. The A105 has been completed since early 2018 and the lanes run the full length of Green Lanes up to Enfield Town. Did you mean another road?

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Cycle lanes rage: Time to apply the brakes 10 Jun 2019 15:28 #4583

Strikes me that drivers should know the rules of the road before switching on the engine and when it comes to overtaking a cyclist, horse, pedestrian or anything or anyone else on a road, should only do so safely and when safe to do so. If that takes a little time so be it. Construction(s) of any form are irrelevant against that requirement.
I had missed the previous posting and its listed comments. It seems such abusive “othering” is not restricted to PG but there are certainly local individuals who have helped fuel such behaviour. I trust they won’t sleep easy once they finally grow up.

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Cycle lanes rage: Time to apply the brakes 10 Jun 2019 15:31 #4585

I didn't realise this was a post from 2017 or I would not have bothered to reply. It appeared today on the SOS Green Lanes FB page. and caused a lot of confusion!

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Cycle lanes rage: Time to apply the brakes 10 Jun 2019 18:55 #4587

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

Neil Littman wrote: There is a safety issue at the heart of this however. By building the lanes in the first place the council reduced the width of most of the roads thereby putting vehicles much closer to the cyclists who don't use the lanes which is not what they were intended to do. ie compromise safety.

It is ironic that the police were running recently an exercise in Bourne Hill to educate motorists not to get too close to cyclists. Fair enough there are no lanes there but the same initiative could not have been done in Green Lanes.


A couple of points:

1. Reducing the carriageway width has been shown to improve driver behaviour - they drive more carefully and more slowly, thus reducing road danger (see Researchers discover that cycle lanes reduce fatalities among all road users .

2. People cycling in the main part of the carriageway will be doing so because they prefer to go faster than is safe or practical in the cycle lanes. They will be going at a decent speed anyway, and there is absolutely no reason why anyone, other than emergency vehicles, should be doing more than 20mph along the A105. Whole-borough 20mph limits are spreading across London and it's high time Enfield adopted this civilised approach. So in most cases there will be no need to overtake cyclists in the main carriageway.

3. If it is felt necessary to overtake, Rule 163 of the Highway Code states " only when it is safe and legal to do so. You should give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car." In practice, on a road with one lane in each direction this means only when there is no oncoming traffic in the other carriageway and the driver should move over onto the other side of the road. So carriageway width is irrelevant.

See this image from the Highway Code

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