Monday, 7 February 2011

Imperial Winter Series Race 11: Saturday 5th February

A mild 12ยบC but with a very strong and blustery southwest wind which meant that I was bound to struggle.  My new Ribble winter training bike was introduced to racing today.  I would like to think that I had learned something from the last time I was out in the strong wind.  Possibly I did do a bit better for a while, keeping to the middle of the pack and avoiding the hazard area.  However, there were some strong riders making a sustained effort to break away and the pace was relentlessly high while that was going on.  After 20 minutes I was left hoping that the split would happen as I was on my limit and drifting to the back   Once at the back at around 30 minutes in, I was holding the penultimate wheel straight into the wind but the inevitable gap opened up and we were sunk.  We were by no means the first to be dropped and I believe that, frustratingly, the group of three got clear off the front just after I came off the back.  With a bit of help from other dropped riders and from the 4th cat race, I avoided being lapped until one to go.
For me it was 24.7 miles in 1hr 04m 50s.  An average speed of 22.9 and a max of 29.3 mph.
I am away next week so this was my last Winter Series race for this year.  It has, as always, been huge fun and provides some intense riding in the off season which I am just not motivated to find on the road or on a turbo.  A huge thank you to the Collins family and Imperial Racing for promoting the series.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Cycling Infrastructure Again

Responding to Dr Julian Huppert MP, the Minister of State for Transport Theresa Villiers stated in Parliament that, "Manual for Streets 2" was recently published after a lot of input from different stakeholders. My understanding is that those documents are heavily used by local authorities in their work on our roads and streets. The uptake of those documents is more extensive than my hon. Friend has been led to believe."

The trouble is that Dr Huppert is right and Ms Villiers is wrong; most cycling infrastructure in this country is useless or worse.  The manual for streets does not descend to detail on the design requirements for cycling infrastructure but this is to be found in the sister document, Cycle Infrastructure Design

Take this example, on my commute home from work
The A315 west of Hounslow on my way home.
The lane on the left is perhaps 0.5metres wide

The Department for Transport's own design criteria provide that:

"7.4 Cycle lane widths
7.4.1 A cycle lane offers cyclists some separation from motor traffic. Under the National Cycle Training Standards, cyclists are trained to ride in a safe position in the carriageway which is usually at least 1 metre from the kerb edge to avoid gulley grates and debris, and to ensure that they are within the sightlines of drivers waiting at side roads.
7.4.2 Cycle lanes should be 2 metres wide on busy roads, or where traffic is travelling in excess of 40 mph. A minimum width of 1.5 metres may be generally acceptable on roads with a 30 mph limit. For cycle feeder lanes to advanced stop line arrangements, a minimum width of 1.2m may be acceptable. Cycle lanes less than 1.2 metres wide cannot easily accommodate tricycles or childcarrying cycle trailers wholly within the lane.
7.4.3 Cyclists can overtake each other within a 2metre wide lane and easily remain within it when looking back to check for traffic, or when avoiding kerbside drainage grates, etc. Drivers do not always realise that cyclists need to move away from the kerb to avoid surface hazards and may expect cyclists to stay in lane regardless of its width. A narrow cycle lane may therefore give motorists (misplaced) confidence to provide less clearance while overtaking than they would in the absence of a cycle lane."

That last part is too true

What should cyclists do faced with this hopeless provision?  Ideally, we should ignore the lane and ride as though it was not there, but that runs a greater than usual risk of attracting aggression from uncomprehending motorists.  I tend to follow John Franklin's suggestion of straddling the line.  This is hardly ideal and Government complacancy about the design of our streets clearly needs to be dispelled.  It would be much safer if the cycle lane were just removed.