Over the last few months, whilst preparing for the long distance bike ride, I've encountered a number of situations, where cyclists, pedestrians and drivers are seemingly unaware of where, and where not, cyclists are allowed to go.
I'll start with "Toucan" pedestrian/cycle crossings
In the UK, where a road crossing is shared by both pedestrians and cyclists, the Toucan system is used - showing a red cycle and pedestrian, when it's dangerous to cross, and green when it's safe.
But, pedestrians often think it's a pedestrian only crossing, and take up the full width of the crossing, forcing cyclists to either dismount, or move out of the crossing's safety area.
Whilst some shared spaces are clearly segregated, with marked cycle paths, other shared spaces are just that - a pathway, that can be used by both pedestrians and cyclists, with no segregation.
|Unsegregated shared space|
Whilst pedestrians have priority on unsegregated shared spaces, they are often advised, by various signs and notices, not to take up the whole width of the path. All too often, many do the exact opposite.
Pedestrians don't read signs (nor do many cyclists, for that matter)
I've been informed, a number of times, that I was cycling in an area, where cycling is not allowed. Often within feet of a sign clearly indicating that cycling IS allowed.
|Confusion might be understandable here - a well signed pedestrian zone,|
with a cycle route sharing the same space
Pedestrians often seem to have difficulty understanding that a blue sign showing a cycle, means that route can be used by cyclists. A similar sign, painted on the surface of the path, also seems to cause the same confusion.
Unfortunately, some cyclists are just as ignorant of road and path rules and etiquette, as many other users.
First rule (in the UK) - just as on the road - keep to the left! The number of casual cyclists who ignore this simple rule, is staggering! (Keeping to the right, would apply in countries where vehicles are driven on the right).
"No cycling" - means NO cycling! It's not difficult guys!
"Cyclists dismount" - means, get off your bike and push it!
Shared spaces, with segregated paths
Essentially, there are two types of such spaces. One, where a cycle path is indicated, usually at the side of a road shared by cyclists and motor vehicles. The other, where the space is shared by pedestrians and cyclists.
Cycle paths indicated on roads, are often found in built up areas. This is an easy, and inexpensive way, for town planners to claim, they are being bike friendly.
|Courtesy of the Bournemouth Echo|
Such paths are all well and good, if no cars are parked at the side of the road. But, when cars are parked, guess what? The cycle path is blocked! Forcing the vulnerable cyclist to manoeuvre into the path of the main traffic flow, and out of the relative safety of the marked cycle path!
|This somewhat ironic shot was taken in Sydney, Australia - it's clearly not just a UK problem...|
Courtesy of Momentum Mag (Canada)
Where cyclists and pedestrians share a segregated space, the cycle path is usually clearly marked, and often has a different surface colour, when compared to the adjacent pedestrian areas. Unfortunately, pedestrians often venture into the cycle path, seemingly unaware of its existence.
|Segregated shared space|
|Segregated shared space pedestrian incursion|
Let's start with drivers pulling out of a parking space, straight into the path of a cyclist. Sorry, but doesn't that go against the basic rules of driving, as per the Highway Code? "Mirror, signal, manoeuvre"?
|Even worse! Parked facing the wrong way,|
and unable to see oncoming cyclists, until it was too late!
All too often drivers make this very elementary mistake. Some may see the cyclist, but misjudge the cyclist's speed. Others, just don't register a cyclist at all, and pull out without indicating. They wouldn't normally do that if it were a car, bus or truck. But, if it's a bike or even a motorbike - they do! Sometimes, with rather nasty consequences, for those on two wheels.
But, with parked vehicles, that's not the only hazard cyclists need to be aware of.
Another hazard, is the sudden opening of a car door.
Whilst motor vehicles tend to pass further away from a parked vehicle, cyclists often pass much closer. Close enough for a door to form a sudden barrier, or worse still, to physically knock them off their bike - and potentially into the path of other road traffic.
Dogs, and their owners
One of my greatest bugbears is dog owners. I love dogs, I've owned and enjoyed the company of several of these wonderful creatures, but I don't necessarily "love", their irresponsible owners.
|A whole series of instructions for shared space users -|
all too often ignored!
Many shared spaces advise dog owners, to keep them on leads at all times - advice, all too frequently ignored. Free running dogs will often suddenly change direction, and run into the path of an oncoming cyclist. Whose fault is that? Well, as far as many dog owners are concerned - the cyclist's! Why? Because they're there, and the dog owners think their dogs have priority, over everything!
But free running dogs, are not my greatest bugbear. That goes to those dog owners, who whilst quite rightly keeping their dogs on a lead, use those, almost invisible (to cyclists anyway), extendable leads.
These form a potential hazard across the path, for both pedestrians and cyclists, with the dog on one side, and the owner on the other. Sorry, but this type of lead is for lazy dog owners, who can't be bothered to properly lead train their dogs, or keep them under control, whilst off the lead. Rant over!
One way systems, where a contra-flow cycle system exists
Not far from where I live, there is a one-way street (for vehicles), which is also a two-way (contra-flow) street for cyclists. Whilst I've not encountered problems from drivers, some pedestrians seem totally unaware of this.
|Cycle contra-flow on a one-way street|
On one occasion, whilst on my bike, I was informed by a pedestrian who had stepped out in front of me, that I was going the wrong way along a one-way street. Ironically, this occurred just in front of a sign (see the very same sign above), clearly indicating that a contra-flow exists for cyclists!
National Cycle Network
Thanks to the charity Sustrans http://www.sustrans.org.uk/, a national network of cycle routes is being developed, throughout the UK. In some places, Sustrans invests directly, with the help of lottery funding, into projects to help improve access to safe routes for cyclists and pedestrians.
One such project exists close to where I live.
|Adur Ferry Bridge|
The Adur Ferry Bridge - this bridge has replaced a former 91 year old, narrow concrete footbridge, across the River Adur, between Shoreham Beach, and Shoreham town centre. The new bridge forms part of what will eventually be the 361 mile National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 2, from Dover in Kent, to St Austell in Cornwall.
|NCN Route 2 marker|
And, yes! We'll be following parts of Route 2 on the cycle ride. But, we'll be deviating northwards, once we pass Bournemouth, to pass along other NCN routes through Somerset and North Devon, as a significant part of the western section of Route 2, has yet to be developed.
Additional information and links
The JustGiving pages for the dementia charities can be found at:
Alzheimer's Society page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-as or text ASDP84 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)
Dementia UK page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-feather-duk or text BIJJ81 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)
@inmemoryofmymum can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow the ride there too. You can also find me on Facebook - Martyn Feather (Skippy), and Twitter - @ZkidooKreativ
The text and photos contained within this blog are the intellectual property of Martyn Feather, unless otherwise indicated. © Martyn Feather 2017