Highway Code to be beefed up to help cyclists

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link below

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45900806

I’m a driver and a cyclist so I can see things from both sides of the divide. That some drivers are inconsiderate and dangerous is a given but so are some cyclists who jump red lights just like the mad drivers. In many ways they are likely to be the same people i.e. if you drive through red lights you probably cycle through them as well. The bottom line is that there is a section of the cycling population who are as much a pain and danger to the travelling public as there bad drivers.

One of my big bugbears is vehicles overtaking me and getting far to close, almost brushing past me. And yes I do shout my opinion at such drivers who are usually doing this dangerous stunt because they are in too much of a hurry and can’t give a cyclist a wide enough berth due to traffic on the other carriageway. To combat this, where the road is narrow, I move out further into the road to stop vehicles trying to pass me.

You are always wary of opening vehicle doors as so many motorists just don’t look and some don’t even care, taking the attitude that other vehicles will just have to go around their open door. Of course the daft and the selfish, together with the distracted, do this to cyclists as well as other vehicles. In my experience young men are the worst for doing this and often they could not give a toss but I lost a cycling friend in Southport because someone opened a car door just as he was passing by a car.

Cycling at rush hour, particularly the evening rush hour, is the worst in my experience because drivers become manic when trying to get home and some think they are driving guided missiles. As more and more people start to cycle these days how we drive on our roads will have to change and that’s why these Highway Code updates are on the cards.

When I’m driving I always try to keep in mind that pedestrians and cyclists are more important and far more vulnerable than I am in my enclosed warm bubble of a car.

Here’s a link to how Cycling UK views the proposed changes to the Highway Code:-

www.cyclinguk.org/press-release/cycling-uk-celebrates-governments-major-step-towards-improved-cycle-safety

Cycling safely – what are the issues?

Should all cyclists be made, by the law, to wear helmets like car drivers are made to wear seat belts? This link to the BBC web site discusses differing views on this issue:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45312756

My own view is that for adults the jury is out on this question but for children the matter is very clear, they should always wear a helmet. I always wear one, preferably in a bright colour as it helps other road users see you as well as offering some protection in case of an accident or fall. I’ve just bought one with a detachable visor and rear flashing red LED. The visor is great as it means I can keep my specs on and have protection from the sun. Wish I’d bought one like this ages ago; the visor is useful in the rain too.

Why do some cyclists ride on pavements? I try not to do this unless it is to avoid a dangerous junction because the most important thing on the public highway is the pedestrian. Also, I find pavement riding hazardous. Bouncing up and down kerbs at junctions, vehicles and pedestrians exiting driveways obscured by hedges and fences. I know that some cyclists ride on pavements because they fear traffic on the road but to my mind it’s safer on the road for cyclists.

And what about potholes? They are probably the greathest danger to cyclists as avoiding them or indeed hitting them can put you in conflict with traffic. My way of dealing with them is to be looking 20 to 30 yards ahead and to be very wary of puddles as they can hide potholes. Best to cycle more slowly on poor roads or even to avoid such roads as I do with the likes of Bold Lane in Aughton.

And what about cycle paths? Great if they are reasonably well maintained and have logical starting and ending points BUT. One ‘but’ is that many are not well maintained and that encourages cyclists, particularly those who wish to travel at speed, not to use them. This in turn frustrates vehicle drivers who, if they are not cyclists themselves, can’t understand why the cyclist slowing them down is not on the adjacent cycle path. The other ‘but’ is that often cycle paths begin and end in odd or even unsafe places or because they run for just short stretches of routes and cyclists are on and off them like a yo-yo. Coming on and off cycle paths into traffic is dangerous and the UK has great deal more to do to make cycling much safer via the development and extension cycle paths/routes.

An example of poor cycling facilities is the A59 from Ormskirk to Switch Island. You have to get out of Ormskirk well into Aughton before there’s a cycle path and when you reach it there’s both a pavement and cycle path side by side. Trouble is the pavement is well overgrown and the cycle path is rutted. It then gets much better until you reach Robins Island where through Lydiate and Maghull there’s no cycle path/safe cycle route at all until you reach the last half mile coming out of Maghull towards Switch Island. Thankfully Sefton Council has an eye to doing something about this but its not going to happen quickly.

Why don’t some cyclists wear bright clothes all the time and/or use lights in the dark? I really don’t know, maybe they have a death wish or in the case of teenage lads its probably not cool to look safe so they would rather be at risk as their mates approve of that. For goodness sake unless you are nuts put on some bright day-glow clothes; it’s called being safe!

Do car drivers hate cyclists? Well some car drivers hate anything that stops them driving around like a crap Formula 1 driver. But just think who are the most important on the road? – 1 pedestrians, 2 cyclists, 3 buses, 4 everything else!

Why do cyclists run red lights? Because they are trying to get themselves killed? Because it makes them feel cool? Because like many vehicle drivers they are in too much of a hurry? Take your pick but as a cyclist and driver I have no sympathy with cyclists who jump red lights.

Cycle in the gutter you are in my way say angry car drivers? No cyclists don’t cycle in gutters because they are too dangerous! Dropped grids broken kerb stones etc. Most cyclists will cycle a couple of feet away from the kerb.

Why do cyclists take up too much room where the carriageway is narrow? Because if they try to make the passing possibilities greater mad drivers will try to push past them causing danger. I will usually make the gap impossible for a vehicle to pass me where the road is narrow such as at pedestrian refuge islands. Drivers need to pass cyclists with care leaving as much room as possible. I saw a warning sign on the Kirkstone Pass in Cumbria the other day saying drivers need to leave 1.5m of space when they pass a cyclist.

Why do cyclists sometimes cycle in packs side by side? Don’t know really, would never do it on a busy road myself as it causes congestion but I guess some cyclists can be just as inconsiderate as some drivers. Lets be honest inconsiderate drivers who also cycle are probably also inconsiderate cyclists.

I love cycling, I used to cycle miles when I was a young lad living in Rochdale with Nigel Collison. Then as I got older I fell out with cycling and only got back into it in my late 50’s. It’s great exercise and you actually see things rather than speeding past them in a vehicle. Cycling fits with my love of taking photographs too as I can stop pretty much where I want which clearly you can’t do in a car. Oh and its good for the environment and for local journeys much cheaper than using a car.

Go on give it a go, but please cycle safely.

A59 Cycle Path – Switch Island to Robins Island

A59 Cycle path becomes narrow pavement at Robins Island.

I’ve mentioned before my desire to see a safe cycle route through Maghull and Lydiate from Switch Island to Robins Island and I took the matter up with Sefton Council Highways. This is what they had to say:-

‘We have actually identified this as an issue and are pursuing a proposal to develop a cycle route between Switch Island and Robbins Island as one of our priorities. We have secured funding for the initial section which will link Switch Island to the service roads to the north of the Dover Road/ Liverpool Rd junction through the local growth fund(LGF), this should be delivered over the next 18 months. We have a separate bid for funding which is currently on a reserve list for schemes to be funded through the LGF which would extend this further from Hall Lane to the Eastway/ Westway junction and once this has been secured will be seeking to extend the route up to Robbins Island, once funding opportunities arise.’

Cycle path under construction between Switch Island and the River Alt along the A59 – April 2018. This section now complete.

Some good news here and the first section, funded by Highways England (see second photo), is now complete but clearly it is likely to be some years before the whole missing section of cycle track alongside the A59/Northway through Maghull and Lydiate is completed. Let’s hope for as quick a construction period as possible in these most uncertain and cash strapped times.

The state of our road surfaces – On your bike

Tony cycling in Aughton, West Lancs

One thing you get to know about as a cyclist is the state of our local road surfaces.

Yes I know we all moan about them but here in Sefton we generally have far better road surfaces (excepting of course the appalling but just fixed surface in Foxhouse Lane of recent times) than neighbouring West Lancashire or indeed Liverpool. Liverpool is of course legendary for its poor road surfaces going back as far as I can remember to the 1960’s.

Yes I’m sure readers of this blog site may well wish to give me a list of Sefton roads that are beyond the pale but seriously West Lancs road users could surely and easily produce a list 10 times longer in my view.

Two lanes in Aughton and one in Downholland to beware of. If you want a good shaking up on your bike try Winifred Lane near to the A59 roundabout, or for a dodge the pot-hole slalom ride try Bold Lane. Greens Lane (which becomes Eagar Lane when it gets into Lydiate) is also a very rough either side of the Leeds Liverpool Canal (Rimmer’s) swing bridge.

The Sefton Coast – Cycling it from Ainsdale to Crosby

Yesterday, together with Roy Connell (who is often credited on this blog site for unearthing interesting subjects) I cycled from Ainsdale to Crosby (and the Iron Men) along the Sefton Coast through Formby, Hightown and Altcar Riffle Range.

Despite having lived in Sefton all my adult life I had not previously done this route either walking of cycling.

The stretch from Formby through Hightown and onto Crosby is very interesting and the cycle/footpaths are in great condition.

Well worth tackling this stretch of the Sefton Coast if you have access to a bike or like a long walk.

The photo above is sadly of me (or is that of a sad me?) and was taken by Roy and dubbed the ‘Yellow Peril’ – I wonder why?

I may well start to blog about cycling trips in the future if readers are unlucky!