Dunbar - Quite Surprising For Bikes
Last weekend for Daughter’s birthday treat, we took her and her best friend to Edinburgh Zoo. We drove up on Saturday morning, spent the afternoon running from enclosure to enclosure, and stayed overnight at a nearby hotel.
Driving back down the A1 on Sunday morning, the fuel warning light for the car came on, so we took a detour through Dunbar. There, I saw two interesting bike related things:
OK, so what’s going on here? Well, this is on the main A1087 that runs through the town, and as it’s a wide road, there are lots of these central islands to help people to cross the road - they only have to deal with traffic from one direction at a time, and have somewhere safe to wait before crossing the second half of the road. Often these are the bane of people on bikes, as they create pinch points, where drivers of motorised vehicles will sometimes try to overtake even though there isn’t room.
The normal way to avoid this problem is for the bike rider to check over their shoulder about 50-100 yards from the hazard, and then pull out into the primary position to prevent anyone in a car from believing even for a second that there’s room to overtake.
Naturally this is a potential source of conflict, requiring the person on the bike to be confident and assertive enough to make the move, and often leaving the driver of the car baffled and angry that a “bloody cyclist, who hasn’t taken a test, doesn’t pay road tax, and doesn’t have insurance” has had the nerve to delay them by five seconds or so on their Very Important Journey.
On occasion, some drivers have even had to reduce their speed to below the speed limit as a result of such reckless or inconsiderate cycling.
Anyway. What they seem to have done in Dunbar is try to remove this conflict, by providing a subtle reminder that people have a right to ride their bikes on the road, and that they need a certain degree of space to do so. Alongside each of these central islands is a length of bike lane, clearly marked with a red road surface, and about 1.5m wide. So wide in fact that it’s difficult to get a car past the island without infringing on the bike lane - hence the dotted, rather than solid white line to border it.
One of the things I’ve noticed recently is that drivers are often loath or cross a dotted line in the road, and trespass on the next lane. I find that on roads that have a central dotted line, the drivers seem to pass closer to me on my bike as they do their best not to stray out of lane - even if there are no cars coming in the other direction.
So these bike lanes in Dunbar seem to be using the same psychology, but in reverse.
They’re a subtle, but I have a feeling that they might be quite effective. Putting bike lanes where the road narrows seems to make a whole lot more sense than the usual way in the UK, which is to remove them where the road gets narrow, or where there’s a junction that means the people on bike might want some help, guidance, or protection from bigger, tougher vehicles:
The second interesting thing in Dunbar was this unholy alliance at the Rigg Service Station, where we filled up with fuel:
You’ll have to click the image to enlarge. When you do, you’ll see that next to the petrol station’s shop, there’s a bike shop. And quite a well stocked one too. Unfortunately, it was closed (this being Sunday morning, so I guess the owner was out riding), so I couldn’t go in to have a look. I also have a feeling that I’d have been lynched when I got back into the car - the two little girls and Wife were somewhat exasperated at me insisting that I had to take phtotos. But then, females are strange like that . . .
I had a brief chat with the woman in the petrol station shop about it though, and it seems that the space was available, the bike shop owner needed a space, and there was plenty of passing trade, so everyone’s ended up happy.
I wonder if they’ll be stocking the Bike To Work Book? With it’s subtitle, “Burn Calories, Not Gas”, it could end up being a source of friction between tenant and landlord!