Zipping through Lichfield last week, I noticed that Lichfield District Council’s traffic engineering guys had been busy with the magic red paint, marking cycle lanes around the island at the entrance to the new housing estate on the A461 at Leamonsley. In a work of true artifice, they’ve produced what I can only describe as one of the most idiotic, deadly cycle safety measures I’ve ever experienced.
This cycle lane encourages cyclists going straight up the A461 toward Pipe Hill to stick to the lane marked, on the left. Not only that, but it encourages motorists to move to the right at the give way line, just as this van has done. Thus it would be easy – too easy – for a cyclist to find themselves wrong sided by a left-turning vehicle, driven by a driver not expecting to find a cyclist beside them. This kind of incident – referred to as a ‘Left Hook’ – is by far the largest killer of adult cyclists in the UK. To find a safety measure that encourages cyclists to get into this position is beyond belief.
I’ll take this opportunity to point out to fellow cyclists that they are not compelled to use this lane or obey the markings here. The only way to approach such an island is in the primary position, in line with other vehicles. Behave as if you are, and take the space of, a car – you are fully entitled to do this and drivers will respect you for doing so. Behave confidently, assert yourself and signal your intentions clearly.
The officers responsible for this monumental act of cycling stupidity – sadly, one of many, as Warrington Cycle Campaign’s ‘Farcility of the month’ site testifies – should be ashamed of themselves. Under what guidance has this lane been marked? Who risk asessed it, and decided it was safe? Have they ridden a bicycle or motorbike in the last 20 years?
I’d like Lichfield Council to justify this absurd scheme, just to understand what on earth they were thinking when the created it…