Etape du Crap

My last post plundered some of the wonderful images sent in to the Warrington Cycle Campaign for their ‘Facility of the Month’ pages (and to reiterate, buy the book and send it to your local Highways Authority. Proceeds to CTC’s Cyclists Defence Fund).

In September 2001, this wonderful Turning Circle/Bicycle Layby/No, I actually have no idea what they were thinking either, was Facility of the Month. It is in the Campaign’s home turf of Warrington.

Yesterday, it surfaced again in the Daily Mail (and thanks to Lazy Bicycle Blog for the heads up). I was quite glad to see that ‘Silly Season’ has returned a little bit in the face of a potential humanitarian crisis in Libya.

It is the latest example in a long line of questionable planning decisions by councils – a cycle lane measuring just 15ft long.

Cyclists using the roads of Warrington, Cheshire, are apparently supposed to use the semi-circular track to help them get ahead of drivers.

Alternatively, this road to nowhere could have been designed by local pen-pushers to help cyclists execute a U-turn on a leafy avenue which runs between the Stockton Heath and Appleton areas of the town.

The spare-lane has been cut into the verge, covered in tarmac before a white cycle symbol was painted onto it – presumably to make sure there was no doubt as to who this strange example of highway planning was for.

The highway blunder was spotted by DSA Licensed driving instructor, Dave Horgan of Horgis School of Motoring.

‘The council need to think twice before putting up confusing signs and this sort of thing is an example,’ he said.

‘This is one of the reasons it costs so much to learn to drive nowadays.’

I’m a little stumped as what Mr Horgan’s comments mean as this nugget of infrastructure doesn’t appear to have been signed, has been sitting there for 10 years as forlorn as a Verve album and is probably ignored by motorists driving past as though their cars will detonate if they drop below 50mph. I also feel that there may be other real and pressing factors as to why the cost of a driving test has risen so much such as Middle East instability or the fact that insurance is seen as peripheral to many motorists yet operating a mobile phone is essential.

Anyway, Tuesdays post along with the above mentioned article got me thinking further about interesting ways to highlight the drivel that Councils have been getting away with for years in the name of ‘sustainability’. The sort of stuff that allows them to produce brochures and plans that gloss over their jeopardising cyclist and pedestrian safety and not understanding the bicycle as a simple and effective mode of transport.

I would like to suggest organising a bicycle race using a particular British town or city’s cycle infrastructure ONLY. I originally wanted road cyclists to be involved but that would probably be suicidal for them and their bikes in particular so maybe just mountain bikes instead – after all, many ‘Town Centre Links’ or ‘Greenways’ are not too dissimilar to ‘North Shore’. If held on the weekend, it may have to be abandoned due to parked cars. I believe however, if it took off, that it should be called ‘Etape du Crap’ or even ‘Crap Etape!’ (said in exactly the same way children would say ‘Crackerjack!’) although feel free to chip in with your own suggestions. In fact, if you commute and you get to an awful bit of cycle infrastructure, just yell ‘Crap Etape!’ before riding it. Passers by may wonder what the Hell you’re doing but at least you might feel better.

'...and the peloton steams over the tactile paving toward the...oh, bugger'

Just a thought.

In the meantime, here’s another post from Mark Wagenbuur via David Hembrow’s ‘View from the Cycle Path’. Please note that even when a full-blown construction project is on, the temporary cycle lanes are better than most British cycle infrastructure. Even when just a diversion, I would like some of what they’re having.

3 thoughts on “Etape du Crap”

  1. ‘…and the peloton steams over the tactile paving toward the…oh, bugger’


    I like the sound of Etape Du Crap…but shouting ‘CRAP ETAPE’…yes the latter wins Jim! I feel a Tourettes De Tameside coming on :>D

  2. ‘…and the peloton steams over the tactile paving toward the…oh, bugger’ is a lovely feature of…

    … National Cycle Network Route number 2!! This is perhaps the nation’s second most important long-distance cycle route, running from Dover to St. Austell. It’s important both for tourism and for local transport along this overpopulated part of the south coast.

    At least, as you can see, they managed to remove the central white line, creating a cycling lane that was far to narrow for cyclists to pass each other, and which merely antagonised pedestrians. Now it’s shared use, cyclists and pedestrians get on much better, and both groups can make use of the limited width.

    Happily the NO CYCLING and CYCLISTS DISMOUNT signs have limited legal status, and many cyclists just slow down and take a little more care here, especially when there’s no-one else around. The cycle route here is permissive access on a public footpath, but since the footpath isn’t next to a public highway, the Highways Act doesn’t apply. The worst you can be done for is trespass: with minimal penalty if you do no damage to the land.

    The daft things about this are:
    1) The red surface is used on the same path further west to consistently mean “Shared use”, but here it means “No cycling”. Same council put both sections in. Perhaps the designer was colour blind?
    2) This section, although a little narrow, is fairly risk free as there are fences on both sides to keep dogs and small children from suddenly running across the path. The new barrier on the left also stops pedestrians suddenly appearing round the rather-blind corner, and now the path is shared-use cyclists can keep to the sea-ward side to avoid the corner too. Meanwhile, other stretches of NCN2 very near here have much more risk for cyclists, but are not even mentioned in “safety audits”.

    A triumph of politics over logic and common sense, yet again.

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