Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Back-sliding in Plymouth

In Plymouth, we have some cycling infrastructure that, although not brilliant and certainly not up to Dutch standards, still remains actually quite good.

An example would be Billacombe road, heading out of the city. Have a look at the following pic:
Billacombe road used to be two lanes in each direction, but was reduced to a single lane. You can see on the outbound side (top of the pic) there is a half-decent cycle lane, which runs practically the length of Billacombe road.
Now while not the best, nor the widest of on-road cycle lanes, pay particular attention to the markings at the junctions. See it? Yes, the cycle lane has priority over vehicles wanting to turn into, or out of side roads! How cool is that! In the UK, right here in Plymouth, we have an example of how a decent cycle lane ought to be.

(Disclaimer: for the moment we'll ignore the fact that despite the road being wide enough to allow on-road car parking spaces and a cycle lane, it remains an advisory cycle lane, and further along cars park in it!)

Now let's go have a look at Crownhill road. There are obvious similarities between the two roads in that they both used to have two lanes in each direction, and both were reduced to one lane. So let's see how the pictures compare:

Aside from the ubiquitous white van illegally parked on double-yellows and blocking the cycle lane, what else can you see? Yep! Those clever people at Plymouth City Council painted a narrow, iffy on-road cycle lane, while a large chunk of road-space is completely unused!
They could so easily have created a decently wide cycle lane, with a painted buffer zone between cars and bicycles, but apparently they didn't consider that a good idea!

This is how the same bit of Crownhill road looks in Google Streetview:

Sickening, isn't it?

Given that Billacombe was done first, clearly we're regressing in Plymouth! At this rate we'll be developing gills and crawling back into the ocean in a few short years!