Sefton & West Lancs – Encounters on a bike ride

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride yesterday so I set off from my Lydiate home through Maghull, Melling, Simmonswood, Aughton and Downholland back into Lydiate. It was a ride of just over 12 miles but quite a bit happened along the way.

Firstly, a van overtook me whilst I was negotiating the roundabout by the new Maghull North Station and the Poppy Fields housing development. To say the van was too close is putting it mildly; less than half a meter from me I would guess when the recommended amount of space to leave around a cyclist when overtaking them is 1.5m! Fortunately, the name of the firm was on the truck so when I stopped I Tweeted the Preston-based company asking them to advise their driver not to put cyclists at risk by driving so close to them.

Then I went down Spurriers Lane, which turns into Outlet Lane when it leaves Melling Parish and enters Simmonswood Parish in West Lancs. I had a brief look at the hugely controversial caravan site off the beginning of Spurriers Lane, near Carla Lane Animal Centre, and saw 4 or 5 caravans on it. My recollection is that the Champion newspaper recently reported that Sefton Council is having the landowner return the land back to its original condition as the development does not have planning permission. There was no sign of remedial works taking place.

I pressed on down Spurriers and into Outlet Lane and then a dog encounter, which I have never had before down that particular lane. I stopped a good 20 yards from the two dogs that were running free in the lane and retreated. The problem is you never know as a cyclist what dogs running free will do so its best to avoid them. Even friendly dogs can jump up and knock a cyclist off causing injury. When I stopped later for a brew in Town Green I e-mailed the West Lancs Dog Warden asking them to speak to the owners about keeping their dogs under control and I await a response. I also Tweeted the company of the too close van as mentioned above and I await their response too.

Then it was up and over Clieves Hill and what a view it was on a lovely sunny winters day. I also encountered the volunteer litter picker who often cleans up at this local beauty spot. Regular readers of this blog site will recall that I posted a while back about my encounter up there with a West Lancs Council litter cleaner who told me how bad the littering was and that there was a chap who did some volunteer litter picking. Well, I’ve now met the chap and we had a good chat about the mucky buggers who create so much mess in and around this lovely spot.

Down the hill into Downholland and I find myself approaching the Green Lane/Eagar Lane canal swing bridge over the Leeds Liverpool Canal but there were workmen on it and the bridge had clearly been closed. It soon became apparent why – one of the safety barriers had snapped off in the high winds as always seems to happen at this exposed spot. Indeed, the barrier was in the canal and was being fished out by contractors working on behalf of the Canal & River Trust. A narrow boat was waiting to get through the bridge and it was able to whilst I was there as the work had been completed and a new barrier is on order. Here’s a couple of shots of the activity around the bridge:-

Snapped off bridge barrier being hauled out of the canal

Narrow Boat at Eagar Lane canal swing bridge after bridge is reopened

Quite a lot of things going on on one short bike ride around Sefton and West Lancs.

Cycling – Bad drivers & poor dog owners

Did you know that the new Highway Code is likely to say that a driver should leave 1.5m between their vehicle and a cyclist when overtaking and that the Police may well be encouraged to take drivers to task, even penalise them, for not adhering to this change?

The change is coming about because a small minority of drivers are putting cyclists at risk by passing far too close when overtaking. Most drivers pass well away from cyclists but some don’t care and pass cyclists in a very dangerous way. I’ve had a couple of bad experiences recently when cycling and oddly both were on Winifred Lane in Aughton, the latest one being a few days ago. This later time the vehicle was identifiable so I’ve contacted the firm (name not mentioned here) concerned asking them to speak to their driver:-

‘I was cycling on Winfred Lane in Aughton around 12.20 today when one of your vehicles nearly had me off my bike by passing far too close to me.

I could tell what was going to happen as the driver made little or no attempt to slow down as they tried to squeeze between me and a parked lorry on the other side of the road.

The new Highway Code says that vehicles should pass leaving 1.5m between them and a cyclist, I doubt there was 6 inches in this encounter! Can you please identify your driver and have words with them. I look forward to your reply.’

Here’s a link to a recent newspaper article about overtaking a cyclist and the changes coming to the Highway Code:-

www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/overtaking-cyclists-mots-the-law-1944067

The other big danger to cyclists are dogs. On the amusing side of things I’ve been told by owners ‘he does not like hats’, ‘he does not like cyclists’, ‘he does not like bright colours’ etc. etc. as though training their dog is something they’ve just never thought of. But joking aside passing a dog and dog walker when the dog is on one of those extendable leads is an art form as you have to try to guess what the dog will do i.e. which way it will run and how far. This is an issue you don’t even need to think about when a dog is on a traditional lead as they can’t move very far in any direction. The problem is most obvious on pedestrian and cycling ‘shared space’ routes

And before you ask yes I’ve been chased by a dog whilst cycling but fortunately, I managed to outpace it, so I’m yet to have an accident or be bitten by a dog whilst cycling. However, I have been bitten by one whilst a pedestrian. That ended up in court and the person responsible for the dog got a £300+ fine if I recall correctly. It happened a few years back in Thornton. My advice to anyone who has an unfortunate dog encounter is to report it to Sefton Council’s Dog Warden, that’s how my case got taken to court.

Chester the Chocolate Lab

Oh and before you think I’m a dog hater, no I’m not. Chester, a friend’s Chocolate Lab’, is my best doggy chum and yes our family has in the past had a dog. To be honest the dog is never the problem it’s the owners who don’t train them whilst treating them like children who can do no wrong. Dogs are pack animals and need to know where they stand. If you treat them like they are the top dog that is how they will act making your and other folks lives a misery in the process often.

* Thanks to ukcyclelaws blogspot for the graphic above