2019-07-29

🚲 Paint only cycle lines

I shared a slightly amusing video of an "incident" on my way back from costa (here) and a friend of mine commented that there was a cycle lane next to the road on which I was cycling, and asked why I was not using it.

I think he genuinely does not realise why I would not use that cycle lane. So I wanted to try and explain a little.

Firstly, and importantly, there are quite a lot of original cycle lanes in Bracknell. The town planners included these, and they go places that are different to the roads (see the tree lines on the image on the right, for example). A lot of them are a proper road surface, wide enough for bikes to pass each way, with proper curbs and separate pedestrian paths along side. They link sensibly to roads, and notable go easily under the major road junctions. These I use, when they go where I want to go. Sadly, even though they have clearly distinct pedestrian paths along side you still get pedestrians meandering in the cycle path, which is a nuisance, and seems to be for no obvious reason or advantage to the pedestrian.

However, like a lot of places, there are a lot of cycle lanes in "paint only". I.e. they are former foot paths that now have paint and signs. Some are split with cycling one side and pedestrian the other side, but quite often it is just shared use on what used to be the foot path.



So, I want to try and explain to my friend, who drives a Tesla. It is a nice car, and if I get a car it will probably be a Tesla. They are quiet, and quite impressive.

Dedicated Tesla lanes

So imagine the council were going to make dedicated lanes for Teslas. Now, ideally these would be specially suited to such a car, smooth road surface, good white lines so the auto-pilot can see them clearly, fences to stop pedestrians accessing the lane, maybe even a special higher speed limit. If you have a special Tesla lane that gave you some advantage over the road you would use it.

Except...
  • The special lane is actually a bit narrow
  • It has a poor road surface
  • Access to the lane is not seamless - it has a bit of a step up, or some cobbles, or a bollard you have to go around, or even a chicane / kink so you have to manoeuvre to get on to and off the lane.
  • The lane has numerous obstacles (signs, bins, bus stops), with just enough space to get around them, but you have to watch out for them and manoeuvre around them.
  • Some of the signs are two pole sign where the sign you have to go between, but the sign is low enough you are not sure you can drive under, or some Telsas won't fit under.
  • The lane is actually two way, but not mostly wide enough to pass other vehicles, so you have to co-ordinate with the other driver to pass where you can, slowing down, moving over, etc.
  • There are pedestrians allowed on the lane, and they don't hear you coming (Teslas are quiet) so you have to beep the horn, and they get all indignant. Even when there is space to pass them, you have to slow down in case they step in front of you or wave their arms about for no reason.
  • The lane does not actually go very far, it stops at the next side road, and you have to get off the lane and cross a side road (giving way). You may even have fewer rights than a pedestrian (who has priority over cars driving in to the side road, not that many drivers realise that). Then you can get on to a new special Tesla lane the other side of the side road.
  • Actually, often there is no follow on lane, you have to re-join the main road, or perhaps there is another lane the other side of the main road.
You could suffer all of this, or you could just use the main road, as you are entitled to anyway, and which goes the same place as the special lane (without all the hassle and giving way at each side road, etc).

As a Tesla driver, would you use these special lanes?


7 comments:

  1. I don't believe even one driver in a thousand knows/remembers that bit from the highway code about giving way to pedestrians when entering or leaving a side road. As a pedestrian, I certainly never rely on it.

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  2. I recently did a ride which passed through Bracknell and the Garmin routing picked one of the north-south paths and I decided to give it a go and was pretty impressed - as you say the larger paths are wide and (importantly) straight enough that you can keep up a good speed safely.

    The pavement-based paths are really only suitable for the cyclists who are happy to do 5-10mph and to play second fiddle to all other road users. For anybody else who wants to get somewhere as fast as they please, they are extremely inefficient.

    A stupid 'feature' in Guildford is where a regular lane is painted on the road, but when there is a traffic island it then directs you onto the pavement for a short section (because there isn't room for a car to overtake a cyclist safely). This is grossly inefficient for the cyclist because even though the kerb is dropped you still need to slow down, and then you need to slow and look behind when rejoining the road. I just keep riding on the road, because it's no less dangerous then the hundreds of other traffic islands on roads without a lane, where a car needs to hold back before overtaking. What they should do is leave the lane in place, but find a way of reminding drivers to not pass a cyclist at that spot.

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  3. It's the almighty telling you to put the hat away and get a proper cycle helmet before it's your head.

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  4. got seasick watching that video! Need an image stabiliser for it

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  5. I agree with Phil.

    I have to agree. I commuted to work on a bike for one year. 30 miles each day.
    Though I used cycle lanes and dedicated routes, and was lit up like a Christmas tree I still had proper SMIDSY's at least three times a month. Mostly left hooks, but the occasional car passing too close.
    The incidence of drivers getting close enough for me to read their phones was at least 4 out of 10 journeys per week (this is defined as, "when you can knock on their window to ask them to kindly drift to the right"), bearing in mind I am in cycle lane while this is occurring.

    It did look like a nice hat though. But you can get all manner of tech orientated cycle helmets now, many with indicators.
    And I bet you could make/design a sensor driven rear mounted bike warning light which flashes brighter and faster the closer a car gets to the sensor. The source input (to the sensor) would have to be based on the car's headlight/running light or some kind of RADAR to sense the distance of the car. Maybe something akin to a PIR used in burglar alarms??
    I wonder if you could re-create the same kind of wing mirror alert system some car manufacturers have to alert drivers that other vehicles are passing. On the bike you could mount a small LED which flashes as the car begins to pass.

    So do us a favour - get a helmet so we can continue to enjoy the blog!! And I think the family would prefer you safer too.
    :-)

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