11th April 2021
The fundamental problem with narrow, painted, advisory cycle lanes like those on Oatlands Drive, Harrogate, is that they invite drivers to make dangerous, close passes on people riding bikes. This puts people off getting around town by bike, and can cause injuries or worse.
By painting narrow cycle lanes on roads, local authorities are not being honest about the amount of space available. They are ducking hard choices and hard work, and pretending that there's enough room for everyone when there isn't.
When they encounter a bike rider, many drivers think 'I'm in my lane, I'll just drive straight ahead.' No one ever corrects them so they think they are doing nothing wrong.
Paint is not protection, and there is no justification for passing cyclists leaving the sort of tiny gap shown in the diagram above.
Drivers must overtake in accordance with Rule 163 of the Highway Code, leaving plenty of room. Cycling UK say that means a minimum of 1.5m at 30mph, or 2m for those exceeding the 30mph limit (a majority of drivers).
When you add in 1.5m to an overtake on Oatlands Drive, it is instantly clear that there is not space for bike, car, car, bike. Two drivers overtaking two bike riders properly would result in a head-on collision.
The design is a failure. The local authority is putting vulnerable road users in danger, when it should be protecting them.
To North Yorkshire Councillors who refused a design for safe cycling on Oatlands Drive: people are angry with you because you are failing to do the most basic thing - to keep people, including schoolchildren, safe from physical harm.
There is a major problem in this country with dangerous cycle lanes. Local authorities want to look as though they have done something for cycling when they haven't. It has to stop.
We need to remove all painted cycle lanes below the Absolute Minimum width of 1.5m, and start making proper, safe provision for ordinary people to go about town by bike safely.