Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Law is an Ass

Dutch Cycle Lane Crossing
This post from Help My Chain Came Off,  "Crossing the line - Cycling on a zebra crossing",  got me to thinking.

Times are changing and I think the highway code laws on cycling and anything to do with pavements, pedestrians, crossings etc, really aren't working with today's traffic and the type of cycling infrastructure being built here in the UK.

For instance, many towns are now using shared pedestrian/cyclist pavements as part of the cycling infrastructure.  Along some of those shared use pavements one often comes across a Zebra, Pelican, Puffin,  and of course Toucan crossings.  Toucan crossings being the only one that cyclists by law can cycle across.  Having said that, I personally have never in the whole of my life come across a Toucan crossing so they really must be rare.

The pavements chosen for shared use are those that very rarely have pedestrians using them.  Therefore very rarely will a pedestrian and a cyclist actually be using the crossing at the same time.   And even if they did, because it wouldn't be masses of pedestrians all crossing at once, it would be no more dangerous sharing the crossing than it would be sharing the pavement/cycle path.  I personally have never shared a crossing with a pedestrian on the shared paths that I use in and around my own area.

When using my trike because of the size and awkwardness of getting off and walking it across I have always ridden it across these crossings with no problem.  On Zebra crossings motorists have even stopped for me just as they would a pedestrian.  I always give them a little smile and raise my hand in a thank you, because after all by law they do not have to stop at the Zebras for a cyclist.  I have never yet ridden across on my 2 wheeler, but instead become a pedestrian.

Once again no provision by law has been made for a cycle path to give allowances for a cyclist to cycle across a crossing.  It's a case of get off of one's bike and become a pedestrian.

Even on slip roads that cross a shared pedestrian/cycle path there are no road markings to point out that the cycle path continues across the road even if cycles have to give way to motorists.  Meaning that on those slip roads we are also meant to become a pedestrian.

When crossing a main road from a shared cycle path where only a Centre Island is placed the cyclist is by law meant to become a pedestrian.  The Centre Islands never being wide enough for a cycle anyway, but that's another story.

Unless the highway code is changed to allow cyclists to cycle across all the various crossings and the slip roads that cross the cycle paths, this simply isn't going to work in the long term if they genuinely do want a cycling infrastructure here.

They either have to change the highway code to stop it being illegal to cycle across crossings, or accommodate cyclists with their own crossings beside the pedestrian crossings, and at the same time extend the cycle paths to cover crossing both slip roads and main roads, with or without right of way, just as they do in the Netherlands.  In other words they really do have to stop forcing cyclists to be half cyclist and half pedestrian on their journeys.  They wouldn't dream of telling a motorist to get out of their car and pushing it across a pavement into their own driveways.

In the meantime more and more cyclists are going to break the law as more as more shared pedestrian/cyclist paths are created.

Obviously with all of the above I can only speak for the cycling infrastructure being created in my own area.   I have no idea how many, or if, some towns/cities have already taken some of the points I have made into consideration with their own cycling infrastructure..

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