It is time for a rant…. I haven’t had one for a while. Not a proper, judgey, one sided rant. So brace yourselves.
A couple of months ago a new road opened near us. That is it up there. The road had been a long time in the coming. When we moved here in 2002 it was in the planning stages. Various issues to do with, I think, funding and compulsory purchase orders had got in the way.
Anyhow after a protracted building phase, involving both existing roundabouts at either end being compromised for eons, it was officially opened in April.
Personal friends may remember the photos of my husband and offspring running its length and myself walking it prior to it being opened to traffic.
Once I had got over the disappointment of it being single lane only and the fact that on its circa two mile stretch there are four roundabouts (do we have Milton Keynes envy? No just many houses to build to cope with the outpouring from London) the thing I was most impressed with was the wide and smooth cycle and pedestrian way running along side it.
To start with his road revolutionised our school run. Until temporary traffic lights appeared on one of the only other two routes to allow for the entrance to yet another housing estate to be built. I use the word ‘temporary’ here very loosely. The traffic control is there for about three months. Sigh.
Still the road has helped. Off peak I can now do the school run in 7 minutes. I know, I have timed it. Partly because I fell asleep in front of an episode of Prison Break after a particularly heavy day of cleaning and was almost late to pick up.
I didn’t drive down it at night for a few weeks but when I did, wow, was I impressed. That cycle way, which at times is on a higher level than the road, is lit up with blue LED lights. It looks like a runway. In extremis I am sure light aircraft could land on it.
This got me thinking that there is now only one small piece of our route from home to school that doesn’t involve a cycle way. It is a particularly tricky part of the route involving a major junction and a Roman bridge which is too narrow to comfortably take two cars side by side. But still mostly nice, safe, even cycle route.
I have plans. To dump the school run. Obviously not on cello days. And probably violin days. Which basically means only Mondays and Wednesdays, but still in time it might alleviate my driving schedule. Assuming I can get my head round the Roman bridge.
There are going to be a lot of houses built by the side of this new bypass. I think around 1500. And so I am pleased with the council’s foresight in providing a route out of their estates that can be achieved safely on foot or cycle.
They have even installed an underpass at the roundabout nearest to my village so that not one cyclist needs to negotiate its perils. At the other roundabout it links well to existing cycleways with islands.
Sorry it is taking me quite a long time to get to my rant. So far this isn’t very ranty. Here we go then.
I drive down this bypass a bare minimum of twice a day. More often than not it is six times. And already I have lost count of the number of cyclists cycling on the road rather than the cycleway. In both directions.
I completely fail to understand this. The road has a fifty mile per hour speed limit. Even on the down hill sections no cyclist without the aid of steroids is going to hit that speed. That means I have to overtake. On a single lane road. Or sit doing 20 mph, gently seething.
This morning there was a middle aged man in Sky branded Lycra gear cycling in the same direction as me down the road. Completely ignoring the deserted, purpose built cycle way immediately to his right. Which has about 50 signs proclaiming it as such along its length.
Moreover as lorries hurtled past him he was relying on a woolly beanie hat to protect his head in the not unlikely-and certainly more likely with him on the actual road- event of him being knocked off his bike.
I just don’t get it. I have asked my husband, who himself is a middle aged Lycra clad cyclist every Sunday, why. He has tried to explain that serious cyclists don’t like using cycle paths. Because they are generally uneven and possibly go up and down for drop kerbs for people’s drives and contain cyclists who are going too slowly, to their Lycra clad minds, getting in their way.
I feel so sorry for them. Having to negotiate the odd cyclist who has the temerity to go slower than them. Not. They think this gives them the right to make all the cars using the purpose built powered vehicle road, for which we pay tax, negotiate a slow cyclist.
And even if I accept the fact that all that up and downing over dropped kerbs is too hard on their poor bottoms THIS IS NOT THE CASE ON OUR NEW CYCLE WAY. It is so smooth teams of roller skaters use it for practice. There are no drop kerbs. No pot holes. Practically no other users.
I got quite ranty in the car. Once we approached the roundabout queue at the end of the road I was trying to get in the left hand lane. Cars were queued. I squeezed to the left side of those queueing to go right. I was stuck there for a bit. Queueing.
Non helmeted Lycra man caught me up. And then got arsey because I was in his way. There was some gesticulating. I only just stifled the urge to open my window and point out the proximity of the cycle way. Which incidentally had no queue. And would have led him safely in the direction he wished to go (right) without him having to negotiate the roundabout at all.
Prat. I hope he gets nipple chafing.