More Lanes to Nowhere

There are bike lanes and bike lanes, I’m discovering on my cycle rides to Battersea. There is the all-singing all-dancing one that takes me from Pimlico to Chelsea and which runs outside the parked cars. This is a fabulous idea and should be more widely adopted although it’s a bit less fantastic than it might be in Chelsea itself because the eponymous tractor doesn’t actually fit inside the allotted parking spaces so they tend to hang over the side and block the lane. (Sorry about the big scratch down the side of your X5, madam, I’m sure you’ll get James to park it more carefully in future). There’s the one-way bike lane down the Chelsea Embankment which was a novelty to me but makes a certain sort of sense. There’s the is-it-a-bike-lane-or-isn’t-it on Chelsea Bridge where the signs send you down the extremely wide pavement, but there’s nothing to warn the pedestrians about it. And there’s the marked bike lanes down towards Queenstown road that send you right into the side of a bus stop. According to the road markings they expect the cyclist to either get off their bike and wheel it five yards at that point, or hop down onto the road and back up again without any dropped curbs to help them. That, frankly, is no sort of bike lane at all, so I’m avoiding them. And finally there’s the absolutely lethal bike lane that sends you off to the outside of the roundabout at Battersea – the worst place for a cyclist to be on a roundabout is on the left, except when about to turn themselves. Cars will turn, and you can’t assume they’ve seen you, and nor can you assume they will indicate either. I don’t know whose idea that was, but it’s a very very bad one.

All this doesn’t really matter because I don’t have to use the bike lanes if I don’t want to as long as I’m prepared to take my chances with the traffic. Or so you might think – but a cyclist has been prosecuted for inconsiderate cycling for not using one even though he’s since successfully appealed. Long may that decision stand…

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5 responses to “More Lanes to Nowhere

  1. In Portsmouth we have the same cycle lanes leading you around the outside of roundabouts. I also ignore them as much as possible.
    I negotiate a mini roundabout on my cycle home – no alternative route. In the last 3 days cars have pulled out right in front of me every day. I have even established eye contact with them and they still do it.
    I even did a cycle safety course with my kids, so I am sure that it is not my riding style.

  2. I loathe these half-arsed measures. Especially since putting bad or dangerous(!) cycle lanes all over the place makes motorists think you then shouldn’t be on ‘their road’ . Chichester has a lunatic system where if you’re going round a roundabout on the cycle lane you’re pretty much guaranteed to be cut up at every junction because you lose your right way of way at every exit/entry point and cars simply aren’t looking out for a cyclist.

    Legally you don’t HAVE to use a cycle lane and on several occasions my sweetie and I have refused to because they put us at unnecesary risk.
    And to Ian Wilson – I know just what you mean. I think part of the problem is they assume that you should stop for them because bikes can’t POSSIBLY have right of way over a car. I also suspect many cannot judge my approach speed and falsely assume that bike brakes are as effective as car brakes. Just yesterday I had a lunatic overtake me and instantly turn left (no indicator, either). Sometimes I wish I could toot a horn or something.

  3. Ah, you need an air horn for your bike! I’m still holding out for one of those…

  4. I am sure that they haven’t a clue how fast you can go on a bike. They always look so surprised that I am right next to them when they start to pull away!
    Anyway, I will be safe from being knocked off my bike today. I left the bike at home due to the rain and took a 25 minute walk instead.
    My workmate has a horn on his bike now. I will tell you if it makes any difference. Somehow I doubt it.

  5. yeah, let me know how he gets on. I’ve wanted one of those for ages.

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