Commuting / Infrastructure

The Cyclist’s Compromise

Whilst considering the previous post regarding the Strand I read an article on road.ccwhich inspired me to conduct a little experiment. The Strand is the best, most direct route, from one side of the city to the other, but it is also treacherous and when it comes time to argue for a segregated cycle path alongside the Strand I’m sure we’ll be told, what about this or that other route, because people planning cycle routes will send cyclists all over the place to prevent having to actually put in a safe cycle path. So I set myself an experiment, the premise of which is – I am an office worker living near the Marina where there are lots of flats at the south end of the Strand, I work in an office in the commercial district, Old Hall St is the centre of the commercial district. If I want to commute to or from work each day, which route should I take? There were just two rules

  1. Do not break the law.
  2. Do not dismount.

So no riding on the pavement except shared use, no running red lights, and remain on the bike at all times, as cyclists should never be expected to dismount as we don’t expect car drivers to get out and push. Route 1 – Sustrans For time saving only this leg was done in reverse though it turned out the wind was following me in this direction and it felt much easier.

This is the Sustrans route, for the most part it follows NCR 56 along the riverside. It is almost all on shared use paths some sections are heavily cobbled, some are narrow. As I was riding on the shared use path I cycled considerately, I had to come almost to a stop at one point and ask three ladies to step aside so I could pass, they did so but one did remark (in a non-aggressive way) that ‘We’re on the pavement, you should be on the road’. I thought this was amusing as I never ride on pavements and on this rare occasion that I try riding on shared use I get told off. On the plus side, the route is almost completely traffic free.

2.88km in 11min 20s

Route 2 – Through the city


I think in terms of danger this is even worse than the Strand, there are so many points of conflict, traffic lights, junctions, filter lanes, hills, it was just a nightmare and at 3.85km much longer, at commuting hours I could have cut off a bit of distance by going up Lord St and Church St, but these are off limits to bicycles during the day. No matter though it is still a route nobody would ever choose. (PS to the cab driver who raced past me and then slammed on to pull over and drop off a fare, you are a c***)

Route 3 – The Strand

This is the most direct route, at 2.35km it is half a kilometre shorter than the Sustrans route, it was also three minutes faster despite the wind being against me and spending at least 1m sat at traffic lights. On the other hand I received punishment passes from two consecutive cab drivers. This is the route any utility cyclist would want to take, the shortest, flattest route, though many would be forced to choose a less convenient route out of fear for their life.

Cycling in the city will only take off when routes like the Strand are turned in to places people can happily, safely cycle. They should not be 8 lanes wide with no cycle path, they should not have luscious green central reservations while cyclists risk death and injury. The developers of the Strand have only one question to ask themselves “Would I let my children cycle along here?” If they can’t answer it ‘Yes’ then they aren’t doing their jobs.


2 thoughts on “The Cyclist’s Compromise

  1. Pingback: Bike paths along main roads are key | The Alternative Department for Transport

  2. I used to find similar problems cycling to town from Bootle, especially on the stretch between Bank Hall and Boundary Pub and the right turn there. Now I just place myself in the middle of t the lane. Just white van man to deal with now who parks on marked cycle lanes to deal with now.

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