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CYCLE LANE MADNESS NOW THEY’RE GETTING SERIOUS:


PHTM readers will no doubt recall that last month we ran a feature about Cycle Lane Madness, extending the content to include several of the other temporary (and not so temporary) measures being taken by local authorities under the current swiftly-passed ‘emergency’ regulations.


Our initial approach was somewhat light-hearted – for example, the bit about GPs being able to prescribe cycles to their patients – but the message is more than serious: the disruption to road usage as a result of emergency ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes, widened pavements and the like, is widespread. More importantly, it is affecting taxi and private hire drivers – and their passengers - countrywide.


For this reason we decided to go over again the gist of the (in)famous Cycle and Walking Plan as presented by the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary some three months ago, so much of which has already been implemented at lightning speed under the auspices of Covid regulations without the consent of residents, the police or the emergency services (including our own taxi and private hire drivers) .


Let’s take another look at the individual aspects of this highly financed grand plan:-


• Space is being created for extra cycle lanes on 1,500 roads in London.


• Cycle training will be made available for every child and adult who wants it, accessible through schools, local authorities or direct from cycle training schemes.


• More cycle racks will be installed at transport hubs, town and city centres and public buildings. That includes some 1,180 cycle bays at railway stations.


• Funding will go towards new bike hangars and on-street storage for people who don’t have space to keep a bike at home.


• Making streets safer by consulting to strengthen the Highway Code to better protect pedestrians and cyclists.


• Supporting local authorities by empowering them to crack down on traffic Improving air quality and reducing traffic by creating more Low Traffic Neighbourhoods; intensive funding of 12 new areas to become more cycle friendly, known as “mini- Hollands”; and creating at least one zero-emission transport city centre.


• Release of £50 bike repair vouchers to encourage thousands of people to get back into cycling. Increasing access to e-bikes by setting up a new national e-bike programme, to help those who are older, or have to travel long distances, or are less fit to take up cycling.


• Piloting a new approach in selected places with poor health rates to encourage GPs to prescribe cycling, with patients able to access bikes through their local surgery.


We ran a load of our own commentary against all these points last month, but what we’re interested in is your comments: how all this is affecting, or will affect, your business, and the continued confi- dence and support of your passengers. A reality check is desperately needed in so many of the localities where well-inten- tioned (and well-funded… ker-ching) ‘emergency’ measures have been set up; thus the petition as detailed later in this article.


6


PETITION AGAINST CYCLE LANES AND OTHER COVID BLOCKAGES REBELLION IN TH’SMOKE


In the capital, London Mayor Sadiq Khan looked as though he might be lynched by a mob of furious taxi drivers outside City Hall a few weeks ago, where he was heckled and chased by the black cab drivers to shouts of “Destroyer of London” and worse. Protesters had marched across London Bridge towards Bishopsgate holding banners, and a crowd gathered outside the London Mayor’s office where a spokesman implored cab drivers and residents to protest Mr Khan’s £225million plan to carve cycle lanes out of major roads.


The undercurrent of the protests is that the Mayor’s anti-vehicle campaign is as transparent as a fishbowl: anything he can do to discourage vehicular movement and encourage alternative forms of transport, including Shanks’s pony, he’ll do it. But at what cost??


A TOUCH OF HOLLAND CAME TO CAMBRIDGE


We briefly mentioned July’s opening of the new Dutch-style round- about at Fendon Road in Cambridge in last month’s PHTM. Ever so slightly permanent (!) as opposed to ‘pop-up’ or temporary, this marvellous construction cost £2.3million, having been originally budgeted at £800,000. Motorists have to give way not only to traffic on the right, but also to cyclists and pedestrians – each of which has their own dedicated lane. The approach roads were narrowed down with the intention to further reduce the speed of approaching traffic.


In practical terms, drivers (including taxi drivers) have got a prob- lem with the roundabout, as do some cyclists. One driver says that his heartbeat rises as he approaches the roundabout in his car. First there is a pedestrian crossing to negotiate. “You’ve got to look right for the cyclist, then you’re on to the roundabout, then you’re looking right for the cars,” he said.


“Then, when you leave the roundabout, you’ve got to be looking over your left shoulder for any cyclists, and then you’ve got to quick- ly whirl around to your right to see if anybody is going to come across the pedestrian crossing. As I exit the roundabout I feel dizzy because I’ve been moving my head hard to the left and hard to the right to look out for people. It’s very difficult at the same time to actually look where you’re going.”


Evidently there is going to be prepared some sort of assessment report at that locality from August onwards; we shall keep an eye on the results of that report. Planners up and down the country are keeping a keen eye on the roundabout, and other areas have already shown an interest in replicating it.


One has been mooted for Braintree in Essex, as part of a network of sustainable cycle routes. In Hertfordshire, there are plans afoot for a Dutch-style roundabout in Hemel Hempstead, as part of an ongo- ing project “to deliver an attractive and safe cycling route along a north-south corridor through a key business park”.


ELSEWHERE AROUND THE COUNTRY, MADNESS PERSISTS


We also reported on PHTM Facebook having featured a photograph of a road in Brighton, where one of the temporary pop-up cycle


NOVEMBER 2020


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