“Is there anyone out there who can give me a good reason why a lot … not all … of cyclists ride on the road when there is a perfectly good, and expensively made cycle way nearby?
For example, Castle Lane from Chandler’s Ford to Baddesley, Baddesley to Rownhams, Bishopstoke to Eastleigh?”
So asks a recent post on Streetlife, a popular local Social Media site.
OK, I can’t speak for all cyclists, but I can give you some reasons why I don’t always use cycle paths.
1. They don’t go where I want to
Yes, there might be a cycle path alongside the road you see me cycling along. But I’m turning off in a couple of junctions, so it’s easier for me to stay on the road.
2. The surface is too bumpy
This one isn’t such a problem nowadays, but in the past councils have had a tendency to turn a little-used footway into a cycle path, without any regard to how comfortable it is to cycle along. Broken tarmac, potholes, exposed tree roots – I’ve seen them all. We don’t have suspension on our bicycles; bumpy surfaces are painful.
3. Incoming road junctions
Every time a side road joins the main road, the cycle path stops and starts. This may not seem a great deal, but it is when you are relying on pedal-power. Momentum is a big factor when cycling; frequently stopping and starting is tiring. And in the winter, it is also cold.
Cycle paths are narrow, and they have obstructions, such as streetlights, road signs, and bus shelters, to negotiate. Sometimes the path is more like an obstacle course. The path on the west side of Bassett Avenue, just up from the Winchester Road junction is a prime example. Also they are often shared with pedestrians. This means that we can’t travel as fast as we would if we kept to the roadway.
5. We don’t know they are there
No, seriously. Cycle paths stop and start at random intervals, and they are not always clearly signposted in advance. There can be two sections of cycle path connected by a short section of non-dedicated roadway.
The hill on Bodycoats Road by Toynbee School doesn’t have a cycle path but comes between the paths from Central Precinct and Allbrook.
There are times that I’ve been cycling along a road and suddenly noticed a cycle path along side. “Where did that come from?” I wonder. “And more to the point, how do I get onto it without having to mount a kerb.” Similarly I am sometimes unsure whether I am still on a cycle path or that it has reverted to a footway.
6. Loose dogs
This one really applies to cycle routes that run away from roads, but loose dogs are a real hazard – particularly to a semi-cynophobe like me. You’re never too sure whether the dog is going to run at you and cause you to fall from your bike. Come to think of it, leashed dogs are also a hazard when they decide to cross to the opposite side of the path from the owner.
So those are some of the reasons that I can come up with.
Cyclists – please comment if you can think of any others why you sometimes don’t use cycle lanes.
I would, however, point out that cyclists have as much right to use the roads as motorised traffic – and that pedestrians have as much right to share the joint paths as cyclists. Tolerance all round makes travel a much more relaxed affair.
But when I am cycling on roads I DO stop at red traffic lights.
- Cycling: Eastleigh – Chandler’s Ford
- How safe are the roads in Chandler’s Ford?
- Be Safe: The Story Of Fred And Jim
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