Kamikaze Cycle Lanes

I have said before that I think many cycle lanes are badly designed and can encourage behaviour amongst both cyclists and motorists that puts the cyclist at greater risk. I have been particularly struck in this respect by the absolute idiotic design of what I have started to call “Kamikaze Cycle Lanes”. These are cycle lanes that, if followed as apparently intended, would cause the cyclist to move quite suddenly out over the apex of a bend or obstacle in the road geometry.

A very sensible piece of advice to cyclists, which is taught in all the books, manuals and training courses, is to check behind, signal and move out further into the road well in advance of any obstacle. This is so that you do not find yourself forced to move out suddenly, which would surprise a lot of other road users who do not properly read the road ahead. This practice has to include obstacles that are there directly as a result of the geometry of the road. Why is it, then, that the people responsible for designing the lines of paint that are frequently added to our roads feel it is OK to do things like the following three examples?

1. A Misaligned Junction

This one is a junction that has been “improved” by extending the line of the cycle lane so that it crosses part-way into the junction. The first image shows the geometry of the junction on approach, and the second shows the cycle lane in close-up.

Moss Bank Way/Halliwell Road junctionMoss Bank Way/Halliwell Road junction

In my view, the most sensible approach here is to ignore the cycle lane and take primary position in the first lane, moving into the cycle lane on the other side of the junction, after passing the apex.

2. The Road Narrows

This one is at a point where the road narrows. A cyclist who follows the cycle lane is taken up to the pinch point, moved out suddenly into the road and then dumped there as the cycle lane ends just before the apex.

Manchester Road cycle laneManchester Road cycle lane

Here, I try to move out of the cycle lane early, taking primary position if possible, but at least encouraging the drivers to move further out so that I have room to move in if they come too close.

3. A Chicane

The word “chicane” implies that someone has deliberately altered the geometry of the road to make it more difficult for vehicles to pass through together at speed. It is sometimes done of racing tracks to make the race more chellenging. One type of chicane involves narrowing the road to reduce the number of vehicles that may go through side-by-side. This case is different: the road has been deliberately altered to introduce a “kink” in the carriageway, with all of the lanes going round the kink. A problem with this approach is that many drivers just ignore the paint that is on the road and cut across the lane that is on their inside, cutting up whoever is there.

Blackburn Road/Halliwell Road junctionBlackburn Road/Halliwell Road junction

Again, I think the best strategy here is to move out of the cycle lane early, taking primary position in the first lane until the apex of the bend is passed.

This video shows what can happen if you don’t do that:

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