On Saturday I needed to run an errand so I unfolded my Brompton and decided to check out the new Findon to Worthing Cycle Route installed by West Sussex County Council. It runs along a single carriageway stretch of the A24 (which has a 40 mph limit being a suburb of Worthing). This ‘Shared Use Facility’ cost the local Council Tax payer an eye-watering £221,000 so surely for that kind of money it must be brilliant!
Alas, this is Britain dear Reader. I don’t know how they did it but yet again they made cycling look ponderous, dangerous to cyclist and pedestrian alike and a bit of a waste of time if you actually want to get anywhere.
Here is a stretch at the Southern end (facing back toward Worthing). Please note the slalom round the tree, the need to write ‘Slow’ at repeated intervals along the pavement (sorry, ‘Shared Use Facility’). Also, please note all the driveway entrances with loss of priority at these plus all the junctions. Meanwhile, the cars flash past regardless on a nice wide road which is what you need in an urban setting.
Here’s an interesting conundrum! Not only do cyclists have to give way but the exit to this petrol station is obscured by the hedge so you won’t know if a car is pulling out until they are on you (pardon the pun). You also have to give way for the entrance too (can’t be inconveniencing motorists now can we!) and then give way at the junction a bit further up, and again at the junction a bit further up………….
This is a personal favourite. The Bus Shelter Slalom. Just pray that a pedestrian doesn’t step out to see why their bus is late! Did I mention that lovely wide road that’s perfect for cycling?
Of course, if you try cycling on the road now, you might get abuse for not using this dangerous dross that would make Evil Knievel think twice.
The path, despite being billed as the Findon – Worthing Cycle Route, actually fizzles out about a mile before Findon but the Council seems to think that just putting up an ‘End of Route’ sign will stop novice cyclists continuing on the pavement anyway.
This is one of my [many] pet hates regarding this type of facility – it encourages cyclists to use any pavement regardless of whether the Council has painted a bicycle symbol on it or not. Everyone else frowns, shakes their head and then complains to the local paper but you can’t blame novice cyclists for doing this – after all, if the Council have said it’s OK to cycle on a particular pavement (sorry, ‘Shared Use Facility’) then what’s wrong with cycling on all the others?
Motorists are happy because it gets bicycles off the roads allowing them to speed up which seems to be what people want in their built up areas.
Who would have thought that designing for something so simple could be so difficult? And this isn’t even the worst ‘Shared Use Facility’ in Worthing, but more on that another day.
7 thoughts on “Crap Cycle Lane I”
Something I’ve never understood about the UK is how it can cost so much to do so little. For some reason, Dutch councils get much better value for money.
Please stop taunting us with your Dreamy Dutch Facilities and Common Sense!
Councils firstly have to be made aware of the benefits that cycling spend brings, they have to change their Procurement routes to give better value for money and they need to be able to coordinate works with all utilities companies. Above all else there should be extensive consultation with cyclists about what they would like to see but this just isn’t happening.
At the moment Councils are feeling the squeeze from massive budget cuts by the new Coalition Government. This should be a golden opportunity to push the envelope of cycling facilities but most highways projects are being dropped arbitrarily with the recession being cited.
The Government is also frozen with fear for some reason about annoying the ‘poor beleaguered motorist’, despite the fact that they would also gain from better designed streetscapes and more pleasant, liveable communities.
We could all just move to the Netherlands of course! At least their football team is better.
Yours in cycling
I don’t think anyone is fooled that white paint and a few signs really cost £221,000. But for sure, local Councils are always under financial presure. The provision of cycling “facilities” is one thing that brings in extra government grants. So the trick is to appear to spend that money, whilst actually spending as little as possible. Wih a bit of creative accountancy this little scheme will be made to contribute most handsomely to general overheads, freeing up funds for something else.
…like pothole repair, which is exactly where the entire West Sussex Cycling Budget went for this year! In view of what they’ve provided for cyclists so far, I actually see that as good news!