Wednesday 24 April 2013

CYCLISTS DISMOUNT! and push your bike until... well... errr...????

 I went for a ride today - along the busiest road in Bournemouth - Castle Lane. Our local Sustrans Officer, the irrepressible Jason Falconer, called for examples of useless cycle signage that we could remove. It led me to one of my bugbears... "Cyclists Dismount" signs. They are used with alarming frequency (usually where people can't be bothered to spend a few ££s on proper path engineering) but NEVER have a subsequent "Cyclists remount" sign to indicate how long we should be unmounted for! And we put up with this shit!

I knew if I took this route - I'd strike recyclable metal gold! And some simply terrible examples of lazy, cheap engineering...

Western approach to Castlepoint, Bournemouth's out-of-town shopping centre and the cause of much risible cycle facility. The cycle lane starts from the service road – there is no indication leading up to this point that one has to take the service road to use the cycle lane. You end up on the main road at this junction and have no incentive to change to the cycle lane at this point.

Castle Lane East travelling East from the Cooper Dean. Just past the Petrol Station. Apparently the cycle lane ends here! Funny that it starts again just across the side road.  There should be a pedestrian and cycle zebra here. This is a typical example of “can’t be arsed because it will cost a few pounds”! All of the points at which this dual use path cross access roads to the station and burger king have no consideration for vulnerable road users.

Approaching Castlepoint from the East – again a service road turns into a cycle lane but there is no forewarning so you end up approaching it on the main road. The first opportunity to join the cycle path is just beyond the traffic light. Mind you – have you ever ridden this path past the shops? Atrocious.

Cyclists Dismount! Just before you reach this road along which you can now push your bike!

The Mallard Rd shopping park is no better – get off your bike and push as we can’t be bothered to cater for you!

Even on Mallard Rd itself, no proper end to the cycle path with a lead-on to the road.

And across the road from that one, another! All 3 directions this picture doesn’t show are cycle lanes. The one it does show could so easily be a cycle path too!

My personal favourite... Heading West from the Mallard Rd roundabout, Get off and push along this service road!!!

And finally... lets have a game of “Spot the end of the cycle path”!! Can you tell where it is yet? It appears to end where the white lines end but there;s no sign to say so. No effort, once again, to introduce bikes back onto the carriageway safely and clearly. After taking this pic I had to negotiate right of way with the red car. Does the lack of sign denoting the end of the cycle lane mean I can ride all the way down to Winton Banks on the pavement without fear of being fined by the Police???

Friday 16 December 2011

Broken Legs and Pavement Clutter

The story of Sienna Barnett who suffered a broken leg after being hit by a pavement cyclist has, as we now come to expect, unleashed a tirade of abuse. Once again, even though this is an ongoing Police investigation, comments have been allowed on the several articles published by the Echo. The first was a front page headline accompanied by a full page spread. Each article carries the emotive picture of the girl and family.

Her mother, who owns the shop outside which it happened, said  “He came tearing down the pavement really fast and Sienna had only taken one step from the shop doorway when he hit her” 

I decided to take a look at the incident site and found the following example of pavement clutter...

This wall of trees has been put out by the shop itself. We have to ask ourselves whether it was present when the accident happened? If it was, and the girl ran out from behind it, would even a responsible, diligent cyclist be able to avoid a collision? Suppose it had been a mobility scooter? Or even an OAP who could easily be put off balance and suffer a fractured hip in a fall.

Yes, pavements are supposed to be safe for children, but we all have a responsibility to act with care for others, even as pedestrians.

If, as it was closing time, the obstructions were not there, can anyone who cycles even contemplate going 'really fast' only 2 feet from these doorways when there's a wide pavement? We only have the mother's report of the accident - yet once again this chap has been found guilty before the fact.

Is it any co-incidence that the 2 most serious pavement cyclist accidents recently reported have both involved serious pavement clutter? According to John Satchwell, Bournemouth Council's Road Safety Manager: "In my view accidents are normally caused by error of judgement and or inappropriate behaviour under the prevailing circumstances. I think it highly unlikely that inanimate objects will have caused a cyclist to collide with a pedestrian"

I'm not convinced.

We finish today with Tesco's latest contribution to road safety. The new Tesco Express on Holdenhurst Rd has this inflatable advert outside. When the picture was taken there were 4 people on the pavement behind it level with the 2 you can see at the cashpoint. Mind you, there probably won't be any cyclists visiting as the 4m+ wide pavement has no bike stands.

Monday 12 December 2011

Cycle Lanes and Pavements = Mobile Workshops & Parking

As I cycle around it seems that the risible cycling facilities and ever-marginalised pavements have a special purpose for builders. Take the following...
Here we see S&L Construction of Poole using a cycle lane as a temporary workshop for cutting bricks. This pic was taken on a Wednesday. I first saw the pallets of bricks and sand on the Monday morning so they would have blocked this for at least 5 days. Here's the lane from the other side on Google Street View... Gordon Rd cycle entry

This lane allows bikes to cut up through Gordon Rd keeping them away from busy rat-runs. Blocking the lane like this prevents cyclists from legally using Gordon Rd. I did report the matter to the Police on the Monday morning stressing the extent of the problem but as you can see they didn't think it was worth doing anything about.

The next 2 pics show the road outside a Tayfield Homes construction project that has been running for months just NW of the Wessex Way underpass on Wellington Rd. The workers on the site use the cycle lanes and pavements for parking all day on a daily basis. The bottom picture shows the other side of the road. There is plenty of daytime parking available in nearby roads. Parking is prohibited on these stretches during the day.

This is the back of a council vehicle parked in Exeter Crescent. This stretch of road is part of the cycle route between the Square and the beach. They have decided to stop opposite some parked vans and made it very difficult to cycle past them. They were having lunch.

The problem isn't confined to vehicles. Many times signs are put on cycle ways as the example below illustrates. The cycle lane is completely blocked and forces cyclists onto the pedestrian 'side' just next to a nursery school. The sign is kind enough to tell us that it's going to be there for several months.

 Now on to Motorbitz in Winton. Not content with telling their customers to hop onto the pavement outside while they carry out oil checks, wiper replacements etc, they use the space for loading their van even though they have a perfectly serviceable loading area at the rear of the shop. Combine this with their signs, it has to be a record for %age pavement reduction.

A little further up the road, Roadways Container Logistics show how bad they can be at logic.

...and finally... another Council Van (number 029 pic taken on 16 Nov) in front  of STB Electricals. Mind you, ALL their customers seem to park here so who cares, eh?

Friday 30 September 2011

Broken Hips and Pavement Clutter

Wednesday before last a 71 year old lady was in collision with a cyclist on the pavement outside Boscombe East Post Office and suffered a broken pelvis as a result. The story can be found here ... 

Interestingly, the Echo allowed comments on this RTA straight away. It also printed an editorial opinion which seems to have already decided that the cyclist was completely to blame even before the Police have had a chance to conduct an investigation...

What caught my eye, however, was the picture accompanying these articles - showing a shockingly overcrowded pavement outside the shop. I decided to take a look for myself.

Here's the approach from the North...

The pavement is hideously overcrowded. While one can expect a pillar box outside a Post Office, we also see a large green cabinet and a National Lottery advert. The pavement at this point is 315cm wide. The gap between the lottery and ATM signs is only 135cm! 

On the approach from the south there is a similar problem...

The free placement of advertising and other obstructions on the pavement is illegal, anti-social and dangerous. Indeed only 2 years ago this collision was predicted in the Echo by Philip Whitelegg who wrote:
I have received letters containing complaints about A-boards which they say regarding Boscombe is “awash with obstructions on their pavements”. The writers state that there are hazards of all sorts providing a situation where there are “accidents waiting to happen”. 

In the picture accompanying the articles we also see a Royal Mail van parked half on the pavement...
ACCIDENT SCENE: Boscombe East Post Office

Just a little further to the north the pawn shop is also causing problems...

The main article quotes John Satchwell, Bournemouth Council's road safety manager, as saying these sort of events are not at all frequent. Surely, then, we must consider that this clutter has contributed in some part to the accident?

Monday 1 August 2011

Charminster Rd/Richmond Park Rd/Alma Rd Junction 'Improvements'!

Over the first 6 months of this year, Bournemouth Council undertook a complete renovation and redesign of the junction where Charminster Rd meets Richmond Park Rd and Alma Rd. Part of the justification was that "Road safety for cyclists will also be improved with the installation of Advanced Stop Lines on all approaches to the junction."

I frequently pass this junction on my way to Boscombe and noticed that there was often no access to the ASL going north on Charminster Rd. So I decided to do a quick study. 

Today at about 12:30 I stopped at the King's Rd/Charminster Rd junction and waited for 5 minutes. This meant I witnessed 6 cycles of a red light for the traffic heading north along Charminster Rd. In those 6 cycles I saw the ASL being blocked twice...


In the second you can see the car has clearly entered the ASL as well as blocking access for cyclists.
Then I moved to the opposite corner looking at red light cycles for traffic heading south along Charminster Rd. In the 5 minutes timespan I saw the following on 4 of the 6 cycles...

 Twice access to the ASL has been blocked by buses, once by a car and in the last one we see a car that has entered the ASL after the light turned red.

No attempt has been made by the council to put in cycle lanes leading up to the ASLs. There's certainly room on the southbound road as things stand, on the northbound one the space has been used for right-turning cars. During my survey I saw no cyclists using these facilities.

Now, I understand we're not talking about a lot of data here, but I had defined my experiment beforehand and picked a random-ish time of day. It's not rush hour. It's not even 1300-1400 when most people take lunch. 

What people need to encourage them to start cycling in decent numbers is subjective safety and ease of use. The new junction layout achieves neither.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Crap Infrastructure and Roadworks

Old Christchurch Rd, Boscombe...
The photo above shows Bournemouth's ONLY piece of decent, desirable, segregated, arterial cycle lane. I won't say it gives priority to cyclists as it isn't long enough to reach any junctions. In fact, it's about 20-30m long. It only runs on one side of the road. When it ends, it turns into the standard, useless, narrow, dangerous, advisory lane we are used to. Here's a view from the far end looking back...
Unfortunately you can't see all of the lane in the picture as it's hidden behind a large roadsign. Turning back to face SW down Christchurch Rd we see another sign...
What handy places these cycle lanes are for putting roadwork signs!

My journey to Boscombe was along the recommended cycle route from Winton. Signage isn't too bad west of the A338 but on the eastern side it's virtually non-existant. Rather than use the (crowded) Ashley Road or (rat-run) Cleveland Road, I took the only crossing in between them, the bridge over the railway at the end of Palmerston Road...
For some reason this crossing is designated as 'no cycling' (although the DofT signage is so faded there is no red circle around the bike). It's wider than most pavements, the path taken across zig-zags which means it's virtually impossible to ride fast and visibility through the railings of pedestrians ahead is very good. In fact, the only hinderances are the scaffolding rails at either end. Why can't the council simply paint white bikes on the surface to make it a 'safe, shared use' facility?

Just after this we meet a contender for the title of 'Bournemouth's shortest cycle lane' straddling the pavement that divides the two halves of Boscombe Grove Road...
The eastbound section is about 3m long. If you look at it using Google Street View, you can see it puts you on Curzon Rd going the wrong way against the traffic (it's a one-way street)!