Help - this is getting ridiculous!
Our local TV news ran a piece based on my YouTube video about the [not quite, or in fact even near to] shortest bike lane in the country. Apparently I’m now “cycling groups in Gateshead”, and to protect me from being mobbed / rising up like an angry mob on camera, the TV company got a stand-in to ride up and down the bike lane while they filmed. They also got Gateshead Council’s Nick Clennet to explain what it’s for. Again.
I didn’t actually see this ‘live’ on TV, as I was reading Gateshead Council’s Cycling Strategy paper last night - really great stuff, and last updated in just 2003. It includes figures like the fact that the busiest cycling route they assessed in their 2001 survey (the Gateshead Milenium Bridge) had average daily flow rates of just 348 cyclists - I’m assuming that such a huge number must be for two-way traffic counting. I would imagine that the Tyne Bridge has that many cars pass over it in a fraction of an hour. And that’s the scale of the challenge for the council, which they seem to be tackling with stop-go infrastructure that’s shared with pedestrians.
And I don’t think that mixed pedestrian / cyclist routes work, unless they’re W-I-D-E, and have clear bike and walking lanes marked. Put it this way, when walking I do about 3-4mph, but even Wife on her Sturdy Shopping Bike, Lilac, rolls along at an easy 12-14mph. When the average speed of traffic in towns is only something like 10-15 mph, it makes more sense to have bikes and motorised traffic mixed, rather than bikes and pedestrians.
The infrastructure built for cars is generally superbly suited for cycling - nice wide roadways, that tend to go in more or less straight lines from A to B. If a significant minority got out of their cars and on their bikes, we’d find that the streets were no longer crowded, that people could actually chat with eachother as they ride, and I’ve absolutely no doubt that world peace would break out too. I may be a little optimistic on that last one though.