Having just spend 11 days cycling around in Denmark, where there are plenty of cycle lanes. I have been thinking about if it really works to split cyclist and other road users from each others.
Yes, cycles lanes are brilliant, the wonderful lanes we used in Denmark where we were pretty much alone while touring through the Danish country side, was a joy to use.
The problem comes to when there are none, I really felt not fully safe. Even when I know that Danes are use to cyclist and most road users use a bicycle nearly every day. I feel that I’m an experienced cyclist and know how to communicate to other road users. But when sharing the roads with other road users I really felt like they didn’t know with a vehicle on two wheels.
When cycling down a road with no cycle facilities they expect you to use the bit of road on the outside of the white lines. Which is just about 3-6 inches wide, not much of a cycle lane. If you try to take your space, remember the 1.5 metre (3 feet) campaign? The other road users in Denmark do not like that and come past you very close. And if you try to get eye contact you are just meet with an angry stare, which is not what Danes are known for.
Same goes when you try to take the lane because you are turning left, just like we do here when turning right. Even when there is plenty of space on your inside and you are giving then plenty of notice with a very clear signal that you are turning. They still try to over take you with oncoming traffic, so I stopped doing that after two very close passes.
This is a very stark contrast to when there is a cycle lane, the other road users will give way to you when you are on it. You know, that scary moment when a car comes up behind you and you can hear it close and that it is slowing down. You glance behind you and see that the indicators are on and it is every so slightly starting its turn while it sneak past you. And the “oh bugger”, here it comes and you past life is on play back while thinking where a safe and a soft place to land is is going trough your head.
But this never happens, the road user stops and give way to you on the cycle lane, while you look at them with fear in your eyes and they just smile at you.
This even happens on roundabouts, you enter it on your cycle lane and the other cars on the roundabout will give way to you as they come past you and get ready to turn off.
So my question is : it is really worth it to spend all that money on the bike lanes? I’m honest here, I can’t remember where I read/heard this, “Cycle lanes do help to get people to ride, but after a few weeks a cyclist don’t really need them any more. Since the cyclist have now become used to the traffic around them”. So why not spend the money on cycle training and assisted road journeys to get them use to the roads.
And looking at how other roads users are using the new cycling “Super” highways here in London. Last week we came on the soon to open CS8 on the Embankment and a taxi driver was using the lane as a normal lane. The driver was too fast for me to take a photo of the driver pushing his way trough on the inside off the cars in the outer lane. I was glad there wasn’t other cyclist on the cycling super highway.
From what I have seen and tried, I’m a firm believer that cycle lane are pretty much waste of space and time. So lets us spend the money on training for both cyclist and other road users and share the roads.