I do wonder sometimes whether the people who design cycle lanes have ever actually ridden a bike, or if they’ve just read about them, maybe on the internet. Take the ones around Vauxhall Cross which got a special mention for their badness in this week’s Guardian cycling special. There’s one section that looks as though it should be quite good – it’s a little mini bike-motorway with two lanes and everything, nice green paint, pictures of flattened bicycles to indicate which lane goes in which direction. But it’s also sends you straight into a tiny gap between a roadsign and the pole for the crossing light so that turning onto the lane means some pretty nifty steering. And of course it’s on the pavement which means any car turning into one of the side roads across the lane basically behaves as though you don’t exist.
But the real problem with cycle lanes, I’m afraid, is other cyclists. Turning onto the lane the other evening, keeping carefully to the left lane, as I believe is the custom in this country, I was almost mown down by a herd of cyclists coming the other way, flashing away like so many demented fireflies, four abreast across the width of the whole lane. They all looked in blank bewilderment when I suggested this might not be the way to behave. After all, they were cyclists. They were in the right. Even when they were also actually on the right. That’s why if I can I prefer to stick to the roads where at least you know in advance that everyone will be trying to kill you. Things are so much simpler that way, I find.