Get On The Bike Path!

The car was at the menders today, and I had to get there to pick it up & take Daughter & friends to their Kung-Fu thing. As is normal in these circumstances, the wind had instantly changed direction and stiffened considerably as soon as I set off from work, so I had a real fight on my hands to get there in time.

The last bit of the route took me through Cobalt Business Park, and into the top end of Silverlink. The trouble was that the road open to cars would have meant another half mile of cycling, whereas I’d spotted a more direct route:

Things to note about this route . . .

  • Empty, newly-surfaced smooth road that takes me straight to my destination
  • That "No entry Except For Buses" sign
  • There’s a cycle path running parallel to the road, but as is usual in the UK, it breaks for every minor road it crosses, with "give way" lines to remind you who’s who in the hierarchy of importance on the roads, (as seen in this Streetview image from a little further up the road):

  • I was giving the pedals a jolly good thrashing, and having finally found myself out of the wind, doing somewhere above 20mph.

I stayed on the road, and passed a security guard’s hut, from which a shout of "Get on the bike path!" came. Half a mile later, there was another one, and this time the guard was walking into the road. So I stopped to be told again to get on the path. I told the guard that I wouldn’t because of the path had breaks in it every 200 yds or so, making it effectively useless to me . . . and pedaled on.

The thing is, we can’t have it both ways. On the one hand I’m happy to moan about the drivers I see – they break the speed limits, chat away on their phones, drive through lights that were "only just red", pass me so close that I can tell what brand of polish they use on their paintwork, etc, etc. Yet the popular view of cyclists is that they’re just as bad – running red lights, terrorising pedestrians, . . . and I had disregarded a clear No Entry sign (my bike is not a bus).

So I hold my hands up – in hindsight, I think I was in the wrong. But what would you have done?

Posted in Bike to Work, Cycle, Cycle Infrastructure, North Tyneside, Photographs, Road Safety
6 comments on “Get On The Bike Path!
  1. Steve Rumsby says:

    “No entry except buses” means it was a bus lane, right? Bicycles can use bus lanes…!

    But seriously, I would have used the irritating cycle path. I’m big on obeying the rules even when they don’t make sense. As you say, we expect drivers to, so we have to also. Double standards is a bad thing…

  2. Karl On Sea says:

    Yep – it’s one thing being a hypocrite, it’s another to do it knowingly!

    Actually, what I think I’d do in future is just add on the extra half mile to the journey and take the route offered to cars.

  3. I think I’d have done as you did and ignored the sign. So, I think, would virtually any Dutch person. Bicycles have to have direct routes in order to be practical. You have to be pragmatic. It’s what is expected.

    Mind you, another way of looking at it is that you probably would not have had to stop if you’d used the path. After all, if the road was empty so presumably were the side roads. The view you gave of one of the side roads suggests that there are reasonable sight lines. It would be better if they hadn’t put the cycle and walking parts of the part on the wrong sides relative to each other

    However… how did those cars get there ? They didn’t also ignore the buses only sign, did they ? If so, did the guards shout at the car drivers, or did pragmatism mean that they were let through without comment ?

    This is where attitudes in the UK are a bit strange. Cars are normal and accepted, even when drivers are breaking laws and disobeying signs. Bikes are not accepted and cyclists are held up for criticism for relatively minor indiscretions.

  4. Karl On Sea says:

    Interesting.

    Just to be clear – the second Streetview image is from before the Buses Only sign. There was literally no traffic around the route between the two security guards. My problem was all the give way signs on the cycle path, accompanied by the change in level to take the path down onto the roads it crosses, rather than the actual need to stop for traffic. Though I could only know that there were no vehicles after I’d cycled through the deserted streets.

  5. I’d have gone on the road too – personally I don’t think that right and wrong are determined by the law; I still don’t see that what you’ve done was wrong. Clearly things are very often set up in a cyclist-unfriendly way in this country (or at the least, a cyclist-ignored way). Given the colossal challenge and importance of issues like climate change and peak oil, not to mention the various other reasons cycling ought to be encouraged, that is to me by far the greater crime. I’d rather obey common sense and compassion, than signs and self-important guards, but there we go.

  6. spacemonkee77 says:

    Its a funny funny place that, the road has been open for cyclists and buses for about a year now, before that only pedestrians and buses, before that pedestrians, and before that no-one. And all that time, two men in two little tin boxes have been employed, one at the top one at the bottom. Their seemingly only purpose to stop drivers (who cares!) and cyclists from going on the road. For years now. I have no idea why.
    The cycle path is fine between those two tin boxes though, where it crosses the entrances to the huge empty proto call centres it has a really smooth curb, you can roll right over them at speed.
    Now dont get me started on the on road cycle lane on Silverlink North. Its fecking useless. It is a cycle lane with double yellow lines yet is full of parked cars between 4 and 6 when idiot drivers sit waiting to pick up from the DWP building. The cyclelane becomes uselss and when you come across a parked car, you have to sit patiently seething behind parked idiot drivers trying to pull out into trafffic. God it makes me furious.

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