A member’s recent experience which was sent to the Canals and Rivers Trust:
I was cycling southwards along the towpath en-route from Carnforth to Hest Bank. Between bridges 127 and 126, where the towpath surface is badly rutted, as it is for much of the way to Lancaster, when the rear wheel of my bike caught in a rut causing it to skid. Fortunately I was travelling at no more than 5mph but in order to prevent ending up in the canal I had to throw the cycle to the floor and jump off. I landed head first but fortunately on the grass between the surfaced path and the water’s edge and with the front wheel of my bike overhanging the water. If I had not been able to take appropriate action, or if I had been travelling faster, both the bike and myself would have ended up in the water.
There were no other cyclists or pedestrains in the vicinity and I believe the incident was caused by the poor state of repair of the towpath, which as you will know is signed as a long-distance cycle path between Lancaster and Carnforth.
Fortunately there was no damage to the bike and my cycle helmet prevented any damage to my head or face. I did however suffer a strained finger, which took the force of the fall.
I feel I ought to report this as the condition of the towpath could cause similar accidents to others and could leave the Trust open to personal injury claims.
We’d all echo his comments about the poor state of the towpath. The response from the Canals and Rivers Trust was to copy it to the local engineering manager . . . but does s/he have the resources to fix it?
A very interesting article about “undercover cycle cops” stopping motorists who pass cyclists with no room to spare. It has prompted Dynamo to write to the Police Commissioner for Lancashire:
Dear Mr Grunshaw
I write on behalf of Dynamo (Lancaster & District Cycle Campaign).
Our vision is for more people to make short, local journeys by bicycle. One stumbling block in trying to encourage novice or nervous riders onto bikes is the fear of danger on the roads. In some cases we have to admit that it does sometimes feel dangerous – and one of those dangers is motorists who don’t give us enough room when overtaking.
We would like to draw your attention to a scheme in the West Midlands where police officers on bikes proactively target such bad practices. Please read more at ://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2016/sep/16/undercover-bike-cops-launch-best-ever-cycle-safety-scheme-in-birmingham?CMP=share_btn_tw and think seriously about it.
Before you dismiss this scheme as a gimmick, please give some thought to what one of the traffic officers says: “In about 98% of cases [the collision] was down to driver action; it was nothing to do with the cyclist”.
Please do give this scheme your careful consideration.
Blue bikes with a reminder to “lock it or lose it” have appeared in town – perhaps as a result of the recent report of Lancaster being a hotspot for bike theft. Not a bad idea – except that it’s annoying that they occupy some useful bike stands!
Text of an email we have sent to Lancashire County Council Highways:
I write on behalf of Dynamo (Lancaster & District Cycle Campaign).
A member contacted us a few weeks ago about the new road markings on the A6 between Toll Bar garage and the old Filter House at the southern edge of Lancaster. Chevrons have been painted on the centre of the road and have “narrowed” the carriageway. The member was concerned at that time that motorists would be reluctant to stray into the chevrons and would not give cyclists much room when overtaking.
This morning another member cycling south on the A6 had EXACTLY that experience: a motorist overtook him far too close to avoid driving in the chevrons (unnecessarily close, since there was plenty of room).
Can you please explain the reasoning behind these chevrons? Was any thought given to the impact on cyclists? If there is so much room to spare on the A6 and you wish to narrow the carriageway, could you not put in cycle lanes?
Dynamo has received plans for a revised road layout at Euston Road/South Road/Lancaster Road in Morecambe, which includes a cycle contra-flow on South Road (a residential road running alongside the railway line). It’s along the lines of the contra-flow on Brook Street in Lancaster – i.e. no fixed lane, and you cycle past parked cars all facing your direction. (There was quite a lot of opposition to Brook Street when it was first put in, but now cyclists and motorists negotiate it OK.) You can view the plan for South Road and detailed signage.
Text of Dynamo’s comments below.
In principle, Dynamo (Lancaster & District Cycle Campaign) has no objection to the plan for student accommodation; it seems a sensible use of this site. Our objection and concern are that there are a number of plans for development in this part of Lancaster, and it is not clear how together they will provide the necessary infrastructure for sustainable transport that is clearly needed. There is the Bailrigg Business Park/Health Innovation Campus, the Booths store, vague plans for housing around Whinney Carr, and this development.
At present, cycle provision seems very piecemeal. For example, the Bailrigg Business Park provides for 950m of cyclepath along the A6 – but where exactly? Plans that Dynamo were shown earlier this year suggest that this cyclepath does not extend as far as Bailrigg Lane, which – given that the lane takes you to an existing cycle route – seems flawed. Then this current scheme provides a toucan crossing over the A6 (good news), but also has a 3m-wide footway/cycleway north of Bailrigg Lane. This does not suggest joined-up thinking. Dynamo is in favour of cycle lanes on the A6, but they should be proper lanes on the road so that cyclists do not have to give way at every side junction. (The County Council’s proposals to reduce the number of HGVs using the A6 makes this more feasible.)
What Dynamo also proposes is a completely new cycle route running parallel to the railway line from opposite the new science park/southern tip of the Old Filter House site, due north to join up with Lawson’s Bridge, Cinder Lane and then Ashford Road. This has the advantage of being off-road, direct and flatter than the Burrow Beck route. (See https://lancasterdynamo.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/ashton-road-alternative-cycle-route.pdf.) This means that there needs to be co-ordination of the three planning applications – i.e. this one, the Bailrigg Business Park and the Booths application – so that this route can be built. The Booths application already allows for part of the route to Lawson’s Bridge, and the Bailrigg Business Park can provide “up to 2.65km of further off-site designated footpaths/cycle paths” (application no. 12/00626/RENU).
There are undoubtedly challenges in building such a route, but Dynamo urges the City Council to think big on this. We are fobbed off with another few hundred metres of unconnected path/lane/painted lines when we really need a network of decent routes – some on-road, some off-road – and this is one way of using three current planning applications to make a real difference.
This planning application is for the demolition of industrial units and the building of 263 homes. Reference 16/00276/OUT.
This is Dynamo’s objection:
Dynamo (Lancaster & District Cycle Campaign) objects to this application on the following grounds:
- This site is already in use as an industrial estate and hence is commercially significant to Lancaster. We need to maintain and increase employment in Lancaster as well as provide homes. Even if this development goes ahead, there will still be some industrial units on the site, so the mix of increased residential traffic with large lorries is worrying and seems very inappropriate.
- This development makes no extra provision for cycling or walking; it simply piggy-backs onto the existing path along the river and proposes to maintain an existing route from Willow Lane. If you wish to encourage sustainable travel, there needs to be more than an exit point onto Willow Lane. There should be better provision for pedestrian and cycle permeability between this site and the adjacent sites. Piecemeal developments like this with impermeable external boundaries often result in long walking routes to houses in the next development.
- Any development should extend the shared-use path on St George’s Quay to the end of the public road. Residents will not only want to cycle into Lancaster along the river but will also want to head south for a leisure ride to Conder Green and Glasson Dock. This development will inevitably increase motor traffic along New Quay Road; the least it can do in mitigation is to ensure that there is a decent route for pedestrians and cyclists the whole length of the road.