Traffic professionals need to understand why cyclists don’t use “cycle routes”

That’s the view of Chris Parker, a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, in a letter in the New Civil Engineer, responding to a (thankfully retired) traffic engineer who wrote that it’s “alarming to see so many cyclists…ignoring their protected cycle path and needlessly holding up traffic.”

'Alarming to see cyclists ignoring protected cycle paths & needlessly holding up traffic'

There are usually very good reasons why cyclists don’t use bike paths, ‘protected’ or otherwise. Too many are crap: narrow, strewn with glass, blocked with lamp-posts and other street furniture. And those “pedestrian pinch points” Mr Barker mentions are some of the worst examples of how seemingly “safe” infrastructure is actually dangerous: motorists often rush to get past at such pinch points and the cycle access sometimes provided at the side of them is often incredibly narrow and invariably stuffed with leaves, glass and other detritus.

Cyclists are not “holding up traffic”, they’re part of traffic. Traffic isn’t just motor vehicles. Roads were not built for cars.

If bike paths were wide, direct, well-maintained, continuous and gave priority at junctions and crossings, cyclists would use them.

It’s therefore good to see a forthright response to Mr Barker in this week’s New Civil Engineer:

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And given Mr Barker’s use of the word “Lycra” perhaps he might like to draw on some of the following points for his next letter to the Not Quite So Civil Engineer? William Bowie certainly has!

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