Yesterday afternoon I was out on a cycle ride with my wife from Ipswich to Colchester via Hadleigh and Sudbury. Most of the route was covered by either Sustrans or South Suffolk Cycle routes. Some of these routes run along busy B roads, with traffic speeds of up to 60 mph through the use of the national speed limit sign.
At one point I came across a junction where all the signs had been wiped out:
There were also various bits of squashed animal on the roads, some are meant to be quiet back lanes (instead seem to be rat runs), including the NCN1. I’ve not included any photos as it is rather gruesome.
This didn’t exactly fill me with any confidence that cycling along this road, the National Cycle Network Route 13 would actually be safe.
There were many cars that were driven at high speed and/or close past me, and on several occasions I feared that some driver would try and overtake when there wasn’t enough time, especially when there were many curves in the road thus short sight lines. Having cycled along the road before, I knew there was a turn off the B road and it just couldn’t come soon enough as by the time I had got there I was a little shaky. I really couldn’t see how anyone could allow children to cycle along that road, even so it’s part of the National Cycle Network.
This got me thinking about how to prevent these so called cycle routes being introduced in the first place.
Could councils be fined for having a signed cycle route or other direction encouraging cycling where cycle users would have to compete with motor traffic of more than 30 mph? How much would the fine be? Would £1 per metre be enough? How much would that be over a whole county? What happens if the council or police don’t then enforce the 30 mph speed limit? Would councils just ban cycling from many roads instead of reducing the speed limit to avoid the fines?
Of course the alternative is to build a Dutch style cycle track that runs parallel to the main road, thus car drivers can drive as fast as they like without having to deal with cycle users slowing them down, whilst cycle users can pootle along in a safe environment without a fear of being knocked down. It would also make the road feel safe enough that many more people would feel safe enough that they would switch from the car to a bike. I wonder how much it would cost for the councils to compulsory buy strips of land down farmers’ fields to be able to create safe cycle tracks?