Ampere Way Updates

For well over a year, a cycle lane in Ampere Way, Croydon was full with plastic jersey barriers. Preventing use of the cycle lane. A few weeks ago there was an update to the cycle lane along Ampere Way.

It used to be like this.

It is now like this.

At least the cycle lane is now usable but the additional bollards now mean that the width of the cycle lane has decreased, road sweepers can not clean them and moving in and out of the cycle lane is difficult.

The bollards have been placed on the left side of the painted lane boundary line, reducing the width that was once there. As we can see from the image below, the road is plenty wide enough for the cycle lane to have been increased in width considerably and still allow for motorised forms of transport to pass smoothly.

Cycle lanes don’t keep us safe

It has been said countless times that painted cycle lanes on the side of the roads don’t keep us safe. Despite this, our cycling facilities seem to be made up of mostly this, painted cycle lanes on the side of the road.

The magic paint lines obviously don’t keep other, much harder and faster vehicles from straying into them, and the consequences of them doing so can be huge. As the cyclist in the above video found out, being in the position designated to us on the road doesn’t equal safety and being hit by a bus that was driving in it was not a pleasurable experience!

Take Care on London’s Roads

An e-mail I got from TFL…

I am writing to both cyclists and drivers to remind them to take care on London’s roads.

Cyclists are reminded to:

  • Be aware of blind spots all around large vehicles. It’s often safer to hang back
  • Make eye contact with drivers to make sure they have seen you
  • Not ride through red traffic lights. It’s dangerous and you can be fined £30
  • Allow space between you and parked vehicles. Doors may be opened suddenly

No mention of what drivers are reminded to be aware of on the roads. Hopefully a bit of education about cyclists and their needs on the road but that is probably a long shot.

Moving around cyclists

I saw this and I thought this was great.

It is (funny) how drivers will calmly go around a car that is parked in the road making sure to avoid conflicts with on coming traffic but when asked to do the same thing for a real live person on a bike they get all worked up and mad at the cyclist. I believe there is a deeply rooted fear of the cyclist and the liability involved. After all the cyclist is a moving object and can change direction. The parked car is not going to jump in front

T – The new way to avoid the door zone

The San Francisco Streetsblog recently posted about a new ‘system’ to keep cyclists out of the door zone which has been introduced by the
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on a trial basis. The idea is to add a T next to parking spaces. This is meant to show the area of the door zone but to me it is rather confusing.

a 'T' on Howard Street

Is this really a good way to avoid the door zone? From what I have seen the vertical line of the T is painted out from the boundary line of the parking spaces, so if you cycle outside of the T then you should be just outside of the door zone.

How it could be better, but it still doesn't make sense

American states have tried several different ways to get work around the door zone. Most of them involving a form of sharrows but many of them don’t have borders so cyclists don’t stay out of the door zone.

Cyclists, like many road users, will stay in the lane markings provided, even if that means putting them in danger.  If the lane markings provided adequate space next to parked cars then KSI’s from doorings should be decreased. For example, the image below shows how there is a buffer between the cycle lane and parked cars and there is a boundary line on both sides of the cycle lane. This should keep most cyclists safe from the door zone as they follow the cycle lane away from the danger.

Chesterton Road, Cambridge

The T to me is another road marking which is confusing and is not self explanatory. The door zone is not known by many cyclists and if the road marking that is meant to save lives is not self explanatory as to what the danger is, then it doesn’t work.

FTA Cycling Code

The Freight Transport Associate recently released a Cycling Code. It’s aim is to improve the safety of cyclists on the roads and reduce collisions between commercial vehicles and cyclists.

The code is well worth reading, and can be done so here.
Here are a few interesting tips for cyclists and drivers take from the code.

Top tips for cyclists

1 Know the law and observe it
The law is clear that as road users, cyclists are bound by all the same rules as motorised vehicles.Whether this relates to alcohol, roadworthiness or traffic signals, failure to observe the law puts both cyclists and other road users in harm’s way.

2 Leave that lorry alone
Never undertake a lorry on the left, especially if you are at a junction. Don’t do this even if there is a cycle lane. Remember if you cycle on the left-hand side of a lorry you are in the driver’s blind spot and if the lorry turns, you will have no escape. It is difficult for drivers of large vehicles to see you, so don’t hide by the side of the vehicle.

3 Make eye contact
Make eye contact with other road users, particularly at a junction, coming out of side roads and at roundabouts; this may tell you if the driver has seen you or not.

4 Look behind you
Regularly look over your shoulders to see what is happening all around you. Check behind you when moving away from the kerb, before you signal to manoeuvre and at regular intervals to communicate with other road users.

5 Look ahead
Look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, potholes and parked vehicles, so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them. Planning ahead helps you to be pre- pared for junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights.

6 Ride on the road, not the gutter!
Your road position should not be less than one metre from the kerb and should be further out if it is not safe for a vehicle to pass. If someone does pass you inconsiderately then you have more room to get out of harm’s way. Keeping away from the gutter will enable drivers to see you and also help you miss the drain covers and debris on the side of the road too.Take extra care to hold your position near road humps and other traffic- calming features.

7 Don’t be floored by car doors
Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened into your path.

8 Make your intentions clear
Make your signal and manoeuvre well in advance, and only when it is safe to do so. Keep your position in your lane so vehicles cannot undertake closely on your left.

9 Cover your brakes
Keep your hands on your brake levers, so that you are ready to use them.Always use both brakes at the same time.Take extra care when it is wet or icy.

10 Lights
By law, when it is dark or there is bad visibility you must have lights on the front and rear of your bike.Always carry spare small lights in case your main lights are not working.

11 Cycle training
If you are a beginner or even if you are an experienced cyclist, you can benefit from an adult cycle training session. Find out more about cycling safely in today’s road conditions by contact- ing your local instructor at http://www.ctc.org.uk/instructors.

12 Be seen
Make sure you wear hi-visibility clothing, especially when the light is poor. Remember – bright, light clothes in daytime and reflec- tive material at night.

13 Stay sober
Don’t ride when you’ve had drink or drugs. Riding a bike under the influence of alcohol or drugs is just as serious and dangerous as if you were driving a car.

14 Listen
Make sure you can hear the traffic around you – don’t listen to music. Many vehicles have warnings to tell you they’re turning left – you won’t hear them if you’re plugged in.

15 Remember that large vehicles move to the right before turning left

Top tips for drivers

1 Respect other road users
Remember that cyclists are road users too and have the same rights as motorised vehicles. Make sure you know the speed limits and observe them – remember that the correct speed may be much lower than the legal limit.

2 Always check the field of view of your mirrors as part of the daily walk around check, or if the mirrors are dislodged during the shift Vehicles now have many mirrors and it is easy for these to be dislodged. Consider using floor mats to map out the correct area that mirrors should be covering – paint them at the exit gate.

3 ‘Give a metre’ or hold back until there’s room
Many roads have too little space for cyclists and hgvs at the same time. If an hgv cannot give a cyclist at least a metre’s clearance then they should hold back. Drivers should bear in mind that cyclists are trained not to ride too close to the kerb.The Highway Code advises that you should give at least as much room as when overtaking a car.

4 Plan journeys to avoid cycle superhighways at peak times
The cycle superhighways are intended to show cyclists – both regular and occasional – how best to get from the suburbs into central London and back. Drivers should be aware that where they see the blue cycle superhighway path there are likely to be more cyclists than normal – where possible drivers should avoid these routes at peak times, ie between 07:00 and 09:00 and between 16:00 and 18:00. Operators should work with their customers to develop delivery and serving plans or construction logistics plans to minimise peak-time journeys.

5 Look over the dash
There have been fatalities that arose because the cyclist wrongly assumed that the driver had seen them. Drivers should always take a moment to look to the front of the vehicle, even if they have a class VI mirror.

6 Concentrate
Drivers – focus on driving – do not use hand-held phones and minimise use of hands-free equipment.

7 Always indicate
Always use your indicators even if you don’t think there’s anyone there and indicate early, ie when cyclists are still behind you and most able to see your indicators.

Certainly some good pointers there for all road users. But will this code affect how safe the roads are? Who knows, at present it’s only a document.

Build it and they shall come

Build a shop and people will buy things from it.
Build a train network and people will ride it.
Build a house and people will live in it.
Build a playground and kids will play in it.
Build a fast car and people will drive it fast.

I’m going to presume you get what I mean by that. To increase cycling in the UK and to decrease our dependency on motorised transport, which is bad for the environment, we need to build good quality cycling facilities.

If we build these facilities then people will start to cycle. Just look at the stats for the Barclays Superhighway. My opinion of the superhighways is not high, I would want a much better standard of cycling infrastructure, one that would be safer and more enjoyable to use.

What ever type of facility is built, it needs to at least cater for the ‘slower’ cyclist. The cyclist that is a utilitarian, for people who don’t wish to change clothes between bicycle ride and getting on with the rest of the day. Those are the people we need to attract into cycling. I feel that is where the greatest amount of potential is.

Build usable and safe cycling facilities and people will ditch the motor vehicle and cycle where practicable.

Vehicular Cyclists

I’ve been called many things over the past few years with regards to how I cycle and what  I post on youtube. Many of them I will not repeat but one I’m often called or people relate to is a vehicular cyclist.

The idea behind vehicular cycling is you put yourself in a position where you are visible, your actions are predictable and you cycle in a manner which confirms with the principles of driving in traffic. Basically similar to a motorbike but with out all the engine noise and a little less overtaking.

Why do I cycle as a vehicular cyclist?
I do so for my own safety. In some situations I’m traveling much faster than the perceived speed that cyclists can go and at similar speeds to other motorised vehicles. I take a central position in the lane to make my self more visible and stop stupid overtakes from cars behind who just can’t see past the skinny vehicle in front of them.

Taking control of your lane can also be important to force drivers to overtake or pass you properly and safely. For example the following video shows a dual carriageway. If I cycle to the left then drivers should pass me in the other lane, giving me several meters of space, due to difference in speed. But many drivers can not be trusted to do so. So the application of vehicular cycling in this situation should force drivers to pass you correctly in the other lane. Again you can’t trust drivers to do so, but with the application of vehicular cycling I have a nice buffer to my left to utilise as run off space, where as if I was cycling in the gutter, I would have the option of hitting the curb and falling off.

Vehicular cycling has some down falls. Not many cyclists do it, so people perceive that you have the attitude that you are more important and are making a point. This makes people angry for some unknown reason and I often get comments of “get in the cycle lane” even if there isn’t one.
It’s also very very hard for a cyclist which isn’t powerful or fast to take a central position in the road, it can be very daunting to do so and you often get a lot of pressure from vehicles behind you.

It’s often said that vehicular cyclists want it this way and that way and don’t want segregation. I don’t specifically think that is true. If you give me a good cycling facility, segregated or not, and I will use it. If you don’t, then for me to be safe I may have to act as a vehicular cyclist.

What ever happens to cycling in the UK, for several years cyclists will still at some point have to act as a vehicular cyclist to be safe. And we need drivers to understand that they need to share the roads with us.

Ticket for not cycling in the bicycle lane

I was sent a link to this video yesterday morning and at that time it had less than 3,000 views. I gave it a watch and at first it was similar to something I had seen before. But after a while it turned into a classic video that just had me in stitches!

We are lucky in the UK that there is no law regarding cycling in the bicycle lane. The councils can paint all they want and you can just ignore it:)

Did London Beat Copenhagen

Someone on a cycling forum posted a link to this website which boasts about a new cycling facility in Copenhagen for cyclists who stop at red lights.

Leave it to Copenhagen. While other bike geeks fight over guerilla-painted bike lanes, or shine them on the street with laser gadgets, or dream of floating them in mid-air, the City of Copenhagen and the bike advocacy group ibikecph installs a simple, low-tech fix that makes riding in the famously bike-friendly city even easier.

In the picture above is what i’m calling the cyclists balance beam. It’s being put in by a company to help cyclists get going after being stopped at a red light. It means you can stay in the saddle and move away quicker.

London had these years ago. Back then we called them railings and their primary design was to protect pedestrians at crossings. They went all the way around crossings apart from where you could cross. They had a few issues, it kept pedestrians in and meant they had to cross at specific locations, drivers felt because pedestrians where not going to be running free they could drive faster and cyclists got crushed up against them!

Cyclists in London have been using these railings to balance on whilst stopped at red lights. Although we didn’t have the bottom section for our feet, we managed alright with just our arms holding us up:)

But over the past few years the London councils have been removing these. And it’s because of the reasons above. Major Boris Johnson wants to make the streets and roads a nicer placer to be, by making pedestrians feel more open to the environment and vehicles slowing down (year right) and hopefully less deaths from cyclists being trapped between the railings and vehicles.

These will only work for safety reasons at segregated cycling facilities. Copenhagen I hope you are listening, the UK did this first😛