I read a deeply alarming article on BikeForAll.net about Daniel Cadden, who was prosecuted for ‘Inconsiderate Cycling’. Basically, he had adopted an assertive position on the road, while going down hill, and cars overtaking him were crossing the double white lines down the middle. Rather than prosecuting the drivers, who for the sake of a few seconds delay were definitely breaking the law, the police decided that Daniel was a softer target. The judge at his first trial agreed, and it was only thanks to the Cyclists’ Defence Fund that he was able to mount a successful appeal.
And a good thing too. The original judgement seemed to have set a precedent, which may have been on the verge of being incorporated in the new edition of the Highway Code. Basically, cyclists would have been forced onto ‘cycle paths’ / lanes / tracks where they were available - irrespective of how inconvenient / dangerous to access these tracks are.
I get really upset by the tokenistic (is that a real word?) way that local authorities in the UK ‘cater’ for cyclists needs. I’m sure that they’re measured on the number of miles of cycle lanes that they have, but rather than treating this as an opportunity to do something / change the world / make life easier, they often seem to try the do the bare minimum to meet their targets.
Examples of this include . . .
- Cycle lanes on roads that appear and then disappear without warning. My favourite example of this is on the way into Gateshead from Sunderland / Washington, and can’t be more than 75 yds long!
- Cycle lanes that cross T-junctions, but give right of way to traffic joining the road you’re on.
- Really crumby road surfaces. There’s a great example in North Shields, where the road’s been resurfaced, but the drain grates haven’t been raised to the new road level - they’re almost 5″ below the road level. Imagine hitting one of those . . .
- Cycle lanes with poor drainage. These tend to be converted railway lines, with a gravel surface. They’re super in the summer, but a short cut to a soaking from the bottom up in the rain.