The attitude towards cycling infrastructure varies with its quality.

The attitude towards cycling infrastructure varies with its quality is an old post by David Hembrow but well worth reading and watching the video about the history of separated cycle infrastructure in the Netherlands.

My view is that most British car drivers are totally unaware of how inadequate nearly all British cycle paths are. They don’t realise:

  • That many cycle paths in the UK put cyclists in more danger at junctions than being on the road
  • That their surfaces resemble roller coasters
  • They they are frequently covered in glass
  • That they keep ending and abandoning cyclists at unexpected places
  • That they don’t go to useful places
  • That they have many barriers that bikes with trailers, bikes with children on the back, tandems, recumbents, cargo bikes can’t get through
  • That the “dropped” kerbs are frequently so poor that you can’t use them with road bike wheels
  • That they are almost never gritted, salted or cleared of snow
  • That they are rarely lit at night
  • That they go through wild places where it is scary to be alone at night
  • That they are so narrow that our bikes are sometimes wider than the path
  • That we often find cars parked in the bike lanes
  • That cars, vans and lorries often drive into the bike lanes
  • That pedestrians like to walk all over the bike paths and let their dogs roam all over them
  • That councils rarely sweep up leaves or other debris from cycle paths
  • That we get so little priority at many traffic lights that we wait for far longer than any motorised vehicle.
  • That many traffic lights don’t detect cycles and so don’t change for us
  • That they are frequently blocked by temporary road signs and that there are almost never diversions when they are blocked by road works
  • That many of them significantly increase journey times

If roads were as bad for drivers as cycle paths are for cyclists then there would be a huge uprising in this country.

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  1. It’s been a few years since I used to ride the 10 miles to work but cycle paths were to be avoided at all costs. For the reasons above they become too slow and dangerous to use and the chance of a collision with a pedestrian is much greater than with a car.

    • Chris,

      That has been my experience in many places. However, slowing down and using a cargo bike with tougher tyres means that I find some of the cycle paths around this part of Leicester are reasonably usable but they don’t form a real network.

      • I do wonder if I should reconsider cycling to work. Subject to Mrs H’s input of course! I think revising my aim of getting to work as fast as possible might need looking at again. Now I’m getting on comfort rather than speed may be the key.

        • Chris,

          This article in the British Medical Journal might be of interest.

          It showed that a heavier more comfortable steel bike was on average only 32 seconds slower than a carbon bike on a 27 mile commute.

          I feel that in the past I have over estimated the time savings from faster bikes and cycling faster. My preference now is for reliability, convenience and comfort. On the other hand my rides are generally shorter than 10 miles each way.

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