Small Sample Size - Telling Results?
Yesterday I asked my fellow would-be BikeAbility instructors if they used cycle paths or roads. Not surprisingly (as we’re going to be teaching others how to ride on roads), all eight of them said they rode on the road.
So then I asked them which they would prefer to ride on.
Every single one of them said off-road cycle paths. So here we have a bunch of responsible adults, who’re keen enough to either get jobs teaching others how to ride bikes on the roads, or in the case of those on the course from North Tyneside, had volunteered to do it for free, yet not one of us would actually want to ride on the road, given the choice.
So naturally, I asked a follow-up question. Or actually, a pair of questions:
Why would they want to be away from the roads?
Why don’t they ride on cycle paths rather than roads?
The first one got an easy to understand, uniform answer - they don’t particularly like the traffic. But the second question . . . it was like listening to “101 things that are wrong with cycle infrastructure in the UK”, in full surround-sound:
- They’re never gritted / salted, so in winter they’re lethal
- The all end up with 12-18″ of leaves on them, which then decays to slippery leaf mulch in the Autumn (fall)
- They’re covered in hedge trimmings in the summer - that means thorns and punctures
- They never seem to connect to anywhere useful
- If they do, it’s not the particular useful place that I’m travelling to on that day
- Dog walkers - thee words for you: Clear. It. Up!
- You have to give way to cars at every pigging junction, while if you were on the road, you’d have right of way
- At regular intervals, there are usually measures to discourage scroats from using the cycle paths as race tracks for their motor bikes / stolen cars. You often have to lift your bike over these, or get off to manoeuvre it through them.
- Speaking of the scroats - they love to get smashed on Thunderbird (or whatever they drink these days) along cycle paths of an evening . . . and then smash the empty bottles.
- And at night, it’s rare for cycle paths to have good lighting
- Pedestrians also use the bike paths - usually with their iPods on, so they can’t hear you coming.
- There aren’t usually clear markings on the paths, so people end up riding on the wrong side. Head-on collision between people on bikes are a possibility
- The paved surfaces are often not maintained, deteriorating from billiard-table smooth to off-road bumpy within a couple of years
- If the vegetation around them isn’t kept in check, it can soon reclaim a big chunk of the available width of the path
I could go on, but I ran out of paper to make notes on.
So, same questions to you:
- Ride on road or cycle path?
- Which would you prefer to ride on?