Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cycle Lanes–I despair sometimes

Tuesday, 13th September: This a catch-up post before my epic drive the length and breadth of the UK  - well nearly.

Winking smile

In preparation for the aforementioned journey I thought it was prudent to arrange for my car to be serviced and MOT’d – I could have waited until I got back – but although my car has a low mileage, I cycle more miles than I drive, it is a Land Rover – and has has its breakdown moments – just little things like suspension failure and failure to go into any gear but reverse. (Did I also mentioned that at one time the breaks would lose any power assistance – which feels like break failure – but if you push hard enough isn’t quite!)

My plan was to get the car to the garage early, they open at 8am and then have a gentle leg-stretching ride before returning home along with a similar ride in the evening to collect it.  I tend not to get out first thing in the morning, apart from when I pop to  my local shop to get the morning paper and so most of my pictures tend not to show the early morning sun.

This time around I headed out on the Newmarket Road to the P&R site intending to cycle  back along the NCN51 route into Cambridge.  Two things caught my eye, the first was the cycle lanes at the junction of the P&R car park and Newmarket Road as poor cycle lanes are a blight on the safe sharing of roads by cyclists and motor vehicles. Unfortunately I forgot to actually take any picture in the morning.

The second thing that caught my eye was that speed limits have been altered on the Newmarket Road – the last time I looked this sign marked the end of the 40MPH speed limit, it now showed a 50MPH limit – I wondered how far it extended for. So although my plan was just to take a picture of the sun rising I carried on a bit further.

Alright perhaps it wasn’t quite sunrise – the sun was quite high in the sky really – but it still looked interesting in the sky. In fact I think that it was really the clouds that created the interest fo rme.

The 50MPH speed limit extended out to halfway between Quy and the Missing Sock.  I wonder why this was done – I am not complaining however it should help to make the road a little quieter. (NCN51 runs along here.)

This is the tree you can see in the last picture with the sun a white disk in the background – even when using HDR.

The sky looked quite unusual and I tried to take a 5 picture panorama shot – here is one of the pictures.

I couldn’t get them to blend and join properly though – see here is a Hockney-esque attempt at a form of montage. The problem was that there was not enough stand-out detail for the alignment of the pictures and it was also probably too wide a spread.

It wasn’t quite so nice by the end of the day when I went to pick up my car – I did remember to pop up to the P&R/Newmarket Road junction though to take those pictures I mentioned of the cycle lanes.

All straight on traffic goes through this gap – this appears to be a Mandatory Cycle lane although as the paint as worn off any motorist could make a good case for saying it wasn’t legal. In any case it is rather narrow. The handlebars on my Marin are wider than that.

Now the idea behind the MCL is that motor vehicles“MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during its times of operation. Do not drive of park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable. You MUST NOT park in any cycle lane whilst waiting restrictions apply “. It is currently rule 140 in the UK Highway Code – although with revisions these number do change.  (As an aside it took me ages to find the rule in the on-line version of the Highway Code – the way they chop the Code into helpful sections did not help me. The section is found under Multi-lane carriageways, rather than rules for cyclists, which is logical but it is relevant to cyclists.

So back to the MCL – well I think that it is an MCL although the white lane has faded up to the stop point. However without looking at the RTRA 1984 or the Road Traffic Regulation Act in too much detail I can’t find a reference in it to Mandatory Cycle Lane – or variations, so I have given up, it is a good job I am not a lawyer.

So I can’t comment on whether this chap is committing an offence, especially since the white line has faded and the cycle lane is barely wide enough for a cycle.

Having said that this driver clearly felt that it was possible to drive in such a manner as to give plenty of space to the MCL – or should that be alleged MCL. Mind you it might also have had something to do with the fact that I was obviously standing there with my camera taking pictures of cars going through the traffic lights.

I do feel that this bus driver has an excuse though – the road is not really wide enough for the bus to get through without driving over the MCL. Which is my point – why was this put in if it is unworkable – all it serves to do is weaken the authority of such lanes in general. Mind you the bus lanes seem to be ignored by many motorists in Cambridge as well  - which clearly displeases the bus drivers.

My other concern with both MCLs and ACLs (advisory) is that they also “give permission” for motor vehicles to pass cyclists without the need to give extra room, which is in contravention of Highway code Rule 163 – follow the link and look at the picture – it is very unusual to be give that much space when being overtaken, although to be fair it does happen more often on fast roads.

I find cycling out of Cambridge on the road part of Newmarket Road further into town to be so bad I avoid it. The road has two lanes, the out for cars the inner a bus lane and within the bus lane is a cycle lane. Busses have passed me with inches (centimetres) to spare and you can feel the suction pulling you into the bus – I am not a light cyclist and I find it bl**dy scary sometimes. I think that sometimes cycle lanes are  stuck in by well-meaning traffic planners to raise the profile of cyclists on the road. I remember something I was taught by my parents as a child – if you are going to do something – do it right. Perhaps I ought to live in Holland. (My wife and I cycled around there on our honeymoon umpty years ago – we still haven’t caught up even here in Cambridge.)

View Larger Map

After my picture taking I headed back to pick up my car. I cycled along the left-hand shared used path rather then the right hand one (as you head back into town). That way avoids passing the Petrol garage which is both uneven and you are more likely to have to stop on a bike to give way for important motor vehicles.

As I reached Marshalls Garage this kind of said it all – cars on the shared-use path – stuff the pedestrians and cyclists – and for good measure the wooden post had also been knocked down.

Now I have mentioned that I had a Discovery – a rugged four wheel drive vehicle, with quite a low mileage in my case – except already a ball-joint is wearing and it might just last until next year’s MOT – apparently it will wear less on the Motorway. It must be all that driving to rugged areas to cycle that is the problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment