Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Plymouth City Council are up to old tricks again...

If you were in the middle of Plymouth and wanted to cycle to the eastern edge of the city, chances are you'll find yourself cycling along Billacombe Road.

Now Billacombe Road is a bit of an enigma - it was built as a dual carriageway but at some point in the past one lane has been taken away along most of its length, in each direction. A painted cycle lane was created as part of this work, with some rather unexpected features.
If you look at the map below, you'll see what I mean - see the yield signs for buses wanting to cross the cycle lane to get to bus stops? Notice the yield signs for left-turning traffic at side roads? Yes, the cycle lane enjoys priority over side roads and bus stops! It is an enigma because it is fairly decent cycling infrastructure in Plymouth.

View Larger Map

If you moved the map above a bit, as if you were going towards the left of the map, you will see the roundabout junction where Pomphlett Road and Billacombe Road intersect. You will also see that Billacombe Road, when looked at going in an easterly direction, coming off the roundabout, starts off with two lanes and a cycle lane before the first lane disappears and the road becomes one lane only.

It has been that way for years now.

Although the road leading up to the roundabout has a 30 mph limit, this is habitually ignored by drivers. After the roundabout, the limit is 40 mph. In a vain attempt to reduce speeds along Billacombe Road, further along there is a static speed camera at the pedestrian crossing, and further still you'll find one of those 40 mph signs that light up only when traffic exceeds that limit.

If you have some time, observe that sign during afternoon rush-hour as it remains almost permanently lit due to large numbers of vehicles always speeding along here.

Cars coming off the roundabout often have to jostle, with impatient drivers often undertaking in an attempt to get in front. That short segment is rather unpleasant to cycle along and I've even had vehicles enter the cycle lane while I was cycling in it, forcing me to rapidly brake to avoid getting run over.

Fortunately it is a short section and when the one car lane disappears there is a hatched-out buffer between the cycle path and the car lane, which improves things to no end for cyclists.

Except yesterday afternoon, while cycling home, I found that Plymouth City Counil has completely blocked the cycle lane just where it was most needed. They blocked it by placing a few road works signs IN THE LANE!

See? Cycle lane blocked!

The picture above shows the second sign that blocks the cycle lane (yes, apparently one sign wasn't enough!). It read "Single file traffic" and is completely redundant as it doesn't advise drivers of ANY change to the road's layout. Before the signs were placed out, the road became "single file traffic" in any case (although often I have seen cars driving on the hatched-out buffer).

A little further along, where the traffic cones start, Plymouth City Council thought it'd be of benefit to put one cone smack bang in the cycle lane. Have a look at where the other cones are: they are simply placed along the perimeter of the hatched-out section of road. There was NO need whatsoever for that cone in the cycle lane.

To finish matters off, the council workers decided a row of closely spaced traffic cones should be placed right across the cycle lane.

Is it just me, or am I right to expect any reasonable person to NOT have blocked the cycle lane like this?

My crystal ball predicts that when whatever work is planned for this section of road actually starts, it will be hell for cyclists and unless safe passage (without dismounting!) is put in place for cyclists, then it will suddenly become very dangerous to cycle through here. At this stage it may be useful to point out that this is, for Plymouth, a major cycle commuter route.

Yet again Plymouth City Council fails to consider cyclists needs, and especially cyclists' safety. Thanks for nothing!