Cycling on British roads is a lot safer than it has been in many years. Whilst the cycling infrastructure isn’t anywhere near what it should be (just take a look at the Netherlands infrastructure for example), councils have gone to some lengths to try and make the roads safer for cyclists.
BBC Magazine did some research in 2104 : “The figure reached its peak in 1934, when 1,536 pedal cyclists died in Great Britain. In 2013 there were 109 fatalities, according to the Department for Transport (DFT) and it’s important to remember that there were considerably fewer people living in the country 80 years ago.”
Now, this is where I am at odds with the Northwest council’s random paintings on the roads.
- They never make the cycle lane wide enough; I always find myself cycling on the actual line!
- A lot of the cycle lanes that share the road end up not being cleaned and as such become unusable, especially in autumn when the leaves have fallen.
- Some cycle lanes do not make any sense at all. They start and end less than 20 yards later!
- When it is wet, the lines become invisible and as such cars drive in the lanes making them useless in traffic.
And that isn’t an exhaustive list either!
On the other hand, where they have said cyclists can share the pavement with pedestrians, the surface of the pavement tend to be uneven or very busy with pedestrians, making them unusable.
So that leaves the roads.
I have had some simple ideas, which wouldn’t break the bank on how to improve the painted lines scenario, aside from also making it law that cars sat/parked in the cycling lanes or in the safe boxes at lights, can & will be fined on the spot.
- Use Luminous paint for the lines. That way, no matter the weather, (other than snow and autumn when covered in leaves), the cycle lane is easily identifiable as it will glow in the dark.
- An alternative to glow in the dark is to add the reflector compound (that you see on bags, shoes, jackets etc that glows when lights shine on it) to the paint, so when lights catch it, the lines light up but not enough to blind the driver.
- Cats eyes. An age old answer, which would also be a reminder to the driver as they will hear the thud, thud, thud of driving over them.
- Making ALL bicycle lanes red. People seem to act differently to the colour red than they do green. Green suggests it is OKAY to do something, whereas red indicates the opposite.
- Make the lanes a minimum of 4 foot wide. This gives the cyclist plenty of room to avoid grids and also somewhere to move to if a vehicle still passes too close. I have noticed, where there are cycle lanes, vehicles will generally drive against the line, so if the lane is narrow, the cyclist is at more risk than if there were no lines there at all.
- Make sure the cycle lanes are cleared of debris, otherwise, what is the point of them?
- If you are going to make a pavement dual share with pedestrians and cyclists, then at least ensure it is fit for purpose!
So, there you have it. Simple ways to make the roads safer for cyclists without spending too much extra AND a means to actually get revenue back for the people who are not only inconsiderate, but who are also breaking the law.