Monday 28 March 2011

All quiet on the Eastern Front

On the other side of the MoD from the Bollards of Death route lies "the eastern front". It's quite nice in daytime. Here we see two people with orange rucksacks doing the route into town.

The rucksacks say RAF on them, and as you can see, the cyclists are riding in formation. Years of experience paying off.

Is this a bike lane the dutch would laugh at? Well, let's look at some other bits.

Heading to the A4174 on a weekday morning.

The bike path isn't wide enough for two bicycles to pass, but at least there aren't any bollards here.

What is an issue is that anyone walking to work on the MoD site has to cross the bicycle side of the path to get to pedestrian side, increasing risk especially at the bus stops. Why not make the path wide enough for different lanes of bicycles and people walking? And put the footpath on the side by the bus stops, on the basis that that is the obvious destination?

One interesting feature is the green lanes on the road here. Some cars do actually give way to bicycles on these bits, even though it's not a legal requirement. You can't trust it, so perhaps both sides slow down just to make sure. It's a shared space kind of thing.

Now, the final view: heading south on a weekday evening. It's getting dim, and you can see that about one light in four on the MoD site is lit up. If all were lit up, you'd have better visibility on this stretch, which would really benefit pedestrians, who aren't encouraged to walk down here. Oddly enough, all the lights in the car park work.

The bike path is on the right (remember how it is on the left on the bollard path). With two bike paths joining, and the one at the end actually connecting with the bollards route, you have to swing into the pedestrian lane as you approach it, or to pass other bicycles.

Then you hit the rugby grounds. Pleasant at day, at night you have to deal with the narrow fence to get through -this was a change that got worse a couple of years back, before anyone with an MTB -as you need on these paths- could just clear the berm on the left. Now, if you have a road bike you have to slow down and zig zag through, on an MTB you can go on the grass and swerve through faster, hitting potholes as you go. There are more potholes at 1:18, stuff no bike can avoid, potholes that form massive puddle in the rain. At night you don't get any warning of this.

What could be done?
  1. Widen the path between the bus stops and the nursery/car park, giving a proper pedestrian lane on the side of the bus stops. Eliminate crossing risk, better for everyone. It's not as if there isn't the space.
  2. Move the bike path to the other side on the rest of the route, reduce risk of collision from the right. Or just recognise that there is no lanes. 
  3. Fix the lights on the MoD site.
  4. Change the entry point to the rugby grounds so you don't need to come completely to a halt. Instead widen it enough to get a trailer through, and line it up better. 
  5. Fix the potholes.
  6. Add some st-werburgh's path style solar LED lights through the rugby grounds. They show the route to everyone, and do benefit pedestrians.
The annoying thing none of these need much imagination to come up with, the problems are immediately visible. Yet nobody fixes them, nobody cares. Incompetence or Indifference: you choose.

Update: Fixed the link to the final video.


  1. What I see of the path looks initially fairly OK until you see people for scale. Then you realize that one person is twice as tall as the cycle part of the path is wide - and it's supposed to be for bidirectional use ! Well, that as well as the other problems you point out...

    You've got the same video twice in the blog post.

  2. What you haven't mentioned is the thickness of the white dividing line between the pedestrian and cycling sides of this path. It may sound trivial but the narrowness of the path does require you to cross the line regularly to avoid pedestrians or other cyclists and obviously at a very shallow angle. The paint thickness is such that there is a real chance of your front wheel being taken from you in places.

  3. Having said this though - this is one of the better cycling paths around, notwithstanding the rugby ground terrain and obstacles. The Dutch would chuckle but not laugh at this one maybe.

  4. @Rhode is right. Also, this route does actually connect useful places: MoD, HP and UWE to lockleaze, and then to the city, so it is part of a fairly low-stress, low-gradient commute. At no point in this journey are you abandoned having to wait for a gap in traffic coming off a roundabout at speed, at least not until you get to the northern end of the path. Pedestrians use it from Lockleaze to walk to the supermarket, a fair few commuters run down here too. The Army folk like to stay fit.

  5. Re the lights 'inside the fence' we need to raise that with the MoD people. Or perhaps budget cuts and the cost of fighting extra wars means that they can't afford to replace the bulbs? I feel a joke coming on here. "How many MoD bureaucrats does it take to get a light bulb changed?" "I don't know but apparently there's 10,000 of them in there and they still can't manage to get a light bulb changed"

  6. Re. the rugby grounds - that gap in the fence is wider than it appears, you can get a trailer through.

    Also, no post about this route is complete without mention of the chap who claims to have a legal right of way to drive along this stretch of the path. Coming across a car along side the MOD is quite "entertaining"

  7. There's a whole housing estate being built alongside this path but there seems to be no plans to actually link them.
    And of course if you use the path to actually get to the MOD you're blocked by the open gate ( )

  8. @Shawn, there is a plan to link the two up. There was an unofficial route from the not-quite-live roundabout through a field which got blocked up as people were using it. The new one will go from the flags by the sales office over to the road. It'll probably suck though, given their past record

  9. @Monstrous Pigeon -not tried the route on a recumbent or double trailer. It's better than the other exit, the one you can't get handlebars through.

    Send us a photo of the car if you see it.

  10. @Shawn.
    I've just spoken to the council infrastructure engineer about the link from the estate to the cycle path. This is progressing. Landowners have given their permission. Funding is secured and the planning application is submitted. Hopefully over the next month or two at most then approval will be given and it can finally get done. It will need a wooden bridge to be built over the culvert but this is in the plans.