For well over a year, a cycle lane in Ampere Way, Croydon was full with plastic jersey barriers. Preventing use of the cycle lane. A few weeks ago there was an update to the cycle lane along Ampere Way.
It used to be like this.
It is now like this.
At least the cycle lane is now usable but the additional bollards now mean that the width of the cycle lane has decreased, road sweepers can not clean them and moving in and out of the cycle lane is difficult.
The bollards have been placed on the left side of the painted lane boundary line, reducing the width that was once there. As we can see from the image below, the road is plenty wide enough for the cycle lane to have been increased in width considerably and still allow for motorised forms of transport to pass smoothly.
The Times #cyclesafe campaign has taken off massively over the past weeks. With support from sporting stars, politicians, huge companies and thousands of people.
The campaign raises similar points to other campaigns, touching on topics such as trixie mirrors, issues with large vehicles, re-design of junctions and speed limits. The difference so far is that it has been coming from a huge newspaper and not from a cycling lobby.
But are we missing something?
The one thing missing is a way to change road user attitude. I see the Times mention training of drivers and cyclists and to include a cycling specific section in the driving test. Whilst yes this would be a good measure, it doesn’t solve the millions of drivers we already have on our roads who are ‘bad’ drivers.
So what can we do? Essentially we need better policing on the roads. At present people are allowed to get away with bad driving if nobody in authority is watching and if no collision occurs. Because they aren’t brought up on it, this leads to bad driving become a habit and essentially normal driving.
As Croydon Council recently put on a sign around the corner from me. ‘Speeding is bad driving’. They put this on a road which is well-known for speeding road users. It’s nice and wide, with a pedestrian footpath on only one side which is also separated from the main carriage way by traffic islands and another small roadway. So people feel like it is OK to speed. In my +10 years of using this road, as a cyclist, driver and passenger, I’ve not once seen a police vehicle on it that was going after speeding drivers.
Usually, unless there is a fatal or serious road collision due to a speeding vehicle, local authorities will not put in speed cameras, and even if they do, they are of the type which are static, highly visible and only slow drivers down for a few meters. Only a few years ago hundreds if not thousands of speed cameras were turned off around the country because they cost too much to run.
Adding brand new cycling facilities is all well and good but they are useless if they aren’t enforced by the police or if all road users aren’t educated about them. We can see an example of poor implementation, enforcement and education by looking at advanced stop lines. A large proportion of ASL’s have vehicles in them which shouldn’t, which just makes the whole reason for them pointless.
It took years to make drink driving unacceptable, fines and points is not enough to deter people from doing something. Driving bans are much more effective. Driving whilst on the phone is just as dangerous as driving whilst over the drink drive limit, yet the penalties are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum which makes driving on the phone appear to be less dangerous and more socially acceptable, which it shouldn’t be.
We obviously need to change certain things to make the road network safer for all road users but I think a big aspect we are missing in current campaigning is increased enforcement of road users, continued education throughout driving ‘career’ and changing the underlying attitude that British road users have.
I blogged in the past about issues I was having with the building management and the bike stands provided at work. After several bicycles where stolen from the basement the security decided to take a more proactive action with regards to cyclists.
This has resulted in those of us not able to use the racks due to full length mudguards or we use non-standard design bikes being punished as we are forced to use them or our access will be taken away. I argued that the racks where not secure and can damage bicycles but it went unheard.
In recent weeks a pass reader was put half way up the exit ramp, something which only cyclists have to use as motorised vehicles set of an automatic gate opener in the floor. This is obviously quite a pain as you either have to be perfectly skilled to be able to touch the card on the reader whilst cycling up the ramp and time it so that you get to the gate just as it opens, or stop and touch in. The later results in an uphill struggle as setting off again on a slope of this nature is not easy.
I can see why the building management decided why this would be a good idea, as the thieves where coming from the outside and able to leave at a push of a button. But why put the reader in such an inconvenient place?
Well that would be where the previous button was and to save re-wireing the whole system they decided to replace the button with a card reader. It would be much more sensible to put the reader at the bottom of the ramp where it is flat, so that you don’t have to start off on a slope.
There is a flaw in whole concept of touching out to open the gates. The gates are open for a fair amount of time after you have touched in, this means that multiple cyclists can get out at once. All you have to do is wait for a cyclist do go up the ramp and touch out, to get out without a pass.
Anyway on to the subject of this post.
An e-mail was sent out yesterday about the installation of speed bumps on the ramp due to a few near misses and apparently an accident because of speeding cyclists down the ramp.
Please be advised that on Saturday 28th January we have arranged an installation of speed humps on both of the ramps leading to the car park. They will be installed 2/3rd way down the ramp in order to control the speed of cyclists. We have experienced several near misses and an accident resulting from speeding cyclists therefore these precautions are necessary.
Further on in the e-mail
We recommend that the cyclists should walk down and push their bike both down and up the ramps.
Well I also hope that they recommend drivers and motorcyclists to get out of their vehicles and push their cars/vans/motorbikes up and down the ramps.
I managed to find out what kind of bumps they will be installing, its dimensions don’t look too bad and i expect only a small change in speed is required to get over them, how wet tyres will handle them, I’m unsure.
I spoke to a few colleagues about this and we certainly feel that the building management is a bit of a joke. We will try to form together a group and see if we can use our numbers to battle them. I suspect that getting together with the other companies in the building is going to be required, and this is going to be the tricky part.
If you watch lots of cycling videos then you will know that lots of us have had various confrontations with drivers over the years and had varying degrees of success/failure with the police.
Our very own cycling lawyer has been working hard at getting a result on an incident which happened well over a year ago now. He was cycling down a road and up ahead was a pinch point, so as taught in national standards cycle training, he took control of the lane to prevent a motorist for passing him far too closely. Unfortunately a motorist behind him who’s valuable 5 seconds was just waisted by having to slow down, felt the need to sound his horn and shout at the cyclist. Further down the road the car driver was of course held up by other motorists and at this point the motorist felt the need to threaten to take the cyclists life.
Well a long story short, the police fobed of our cyclist with his video footage but he didn’t give up, he fought his case and eventually got the driver punished for threatening or abusive words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress. This resulted in him receiving over a £500 fine. Read more >
It is no doubt a great result and I’m applaud Martin for his hard work and determination to get a result. I just wish that it wasn’t required and that other threatening behaviour with a vehicle was taken more seriously. As I’ve said before it seems that the roads are un-policed and some people deem that cyclists deserve to be punished for daring to get in the way of such a powerful machine.