Cyclists are being forced off the roads
JOHN Lloyd presents a true picture of what cycling in Exeter is really like, City cycling is tough without proper links, Points of view, July 4.
Never mind the shared-use pavements and off-road routes, riding on the roads is more hazardous now than at any time in the past 20 years. No significant on-road improvements for cyclists have been made in a decade. The start made by Cllr Lloyd on routes to the city centre has now stalled. The green paint peels; the 20mph signs are all but scuffed off the roads; cycle lanes are used as car-parks.
It galls me that I now ride miles out of my way because direct road routes have become so dangerous, and I then get tallied at off-road counting stations as if I were another new recruit to bolster Cycle Exeter's bogus statistics.
Actually I am a veteran cyclist on the point of jacking it in before I get myself killed. It galls me that when my wife walks to the city centre, because she is now afraid to cycle, she gets buzzed by pavement riders and dare not tell them that they are getting proper cyclists a bad name.
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I find it terribly sad that children today who learn to ride can, if they do not simply buy a car as soon as they pass the test, look forward to a lifetime of exploring more of the pavements of the city rather than the lanes of our county and a whole world beyond.
It is the humbug of 'Freedom of Your City' that gets to me more than anything. The misguided policies adopted by Cycle Exeter have whittled away my freedom. They have sent me a message that my freedom to cycle applies everywhere except on the roads; and don't a lot of motorists just agree?
The utterly outrageous part is that the Government pledged £140 million because cycling "has a major role to play in a sustainable transport system" and Lord Adonis has just announced a "National Cycle Plan to promote cycling as a mainstream form of personal transport". Well there is nothing mainstream about being driven off the road, and a major role is never going to fit on the pavements anyway.
Bikes belong on the roads. The sooner this city brings in some measures to encourage that line of thought the better. Here are some modest proposals:
1) Assign some cycle priority routes to major destinations. They would go through residential streets, not down traffic arteries of course.
2) Put up some notices to say 'Cycle priority route'. And make these routes unworkable as rat-runs for cars.
3) Put up some notices on these routes saying 20 mph. They have to mean it.
4) Near schools, at school-run times, the limit signs will have to be 15 mph or less, and boy do they have to mean it? (Ignoring these signs has to be like what happens if you overtake the school bus in the USA; you can end up being very late for work!)
None of this is going to go down well with the motoring lobby. But it is time that governments, local and national, stopped rushing to pick up the tab for the motoring lobby. It is time to explain that they are a busted flush. A lot of motorists have already figured they have been taken for a ride. They should have the practical choice of a better vehicle open to them.