Monday 29 October 2012

Why red paint on a road is such a waste of money

The reviewing of the Gilbert Road history makes a key point to the members of the  People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire:

Painting red strips at the edge of the road is not only a waste of money -it is a dangerous waste of money.

Why does any money get spent on cycling facilities? It's not out of the goodness of the heart of politicians, who have many other things to do with it.

  1. Safety: People -cycling campaigners and voters are demanding facilities to improve cycling.
  2. Take-up: A goal has been set (locally or centrally) to increase the number of cyclists, to achieve modal shift

Red paint on the road does not achieve goal #1, hence #2, take-up of cycling falls by the wayside.

Why doesn't red paint achieve cycling safety. Because it is fucking useless.

  1. It often goes up in the door-zone, the place where you don't want to cycle.
  2. If it goes up alongside a pavement, irrespective of what no parking signs go up, selfish lazy wankers who can't walk more than two feet to their destination will park there. Usually they get away with it from a society that thinks it is acceptable.
  3. Motor vehicles zip by you fast if you are naive enough to cycle in the paint zone.
  4. If you cycle out of the paint zone, out of the door zone, you get the cars sounding their horns, the people complaining the cyclists don't use the facilities. In the worst case, you  get the councillors saying the cyclists don't deserve any more facilities because they don't use the shit stuff they've been given. 
  5. It's not the straight road stretches that are that dangerous -if they are, a 20 mph zone helps. 
  6. What is dangerous -and which the red paint never does anything about- is crossing junctions safely. Often the red paint goes away just before you get to a roundabout, to some four way crossing, to somewhere where you need the acceleration of Cavendish or Grimpel to get across the main road. That's not just some road crossing -many of the "cycle path" crossings of junctions do the same. 
People who cycle will continue to do it, either in the red door zone or, if sensible, in the piss-off-driver zone, and hope to get over the junctions safely. Having cyclist thighs and experience helps them, which is why the vehicular-cycling-only group are usually fit males. Women, kids, they don't have the edge or the hormones.

People who don't cycle -remember that goal #2, take-up- won't, because they try that red line, feel the cars going past, then discover their local council has abandoned them at the junction. Once they get over it, they say "never again", and don't. The bicycle only comes out on the leisure routes, routes the council is happy to give out brochures on -not once wondering why the leisure routes are the only places that you see families on bicycles -families that drive there.

Because red-paint-roads don't achieve safety and hence modal-shift, there is no fucking point wasting any money on them. Because they take away money and time that could make cycling safer. Even ignoring segregated routes, it could be spent making roundabouts and other junctions safer for people cycling on roads -something TfL is clearly failing to do. 

Cycle campaigning groups must make it clear that red-paint achieves nothing. If you see the proposals, ask what the goals are -safety and modal shift- and make clear they don't achieve them. Then say "what can you do that makes things safe and so encourages take-up"

If a council cannot make the roads safe for cycling -and they acknowledge that fact using words like "flow", then that leaves them with only one alternative: safe, segregated routes with safe crossings of junctions. 

It's that junction crossing which is the thing to watch out for. It's why the vehicular cycling advocates have got it right -cycling over a roundabout offers better rights of way than hiding in the traffic islands waiting for a gap. Except neither are safe -which is why both have to go. 

Which raises the question: is the CTC really the Popular Cycling Front of S Gloucs: the committee people who cycle down the rounds, sprint over the junctions, and believe it is their inalienable right to die on an A-road after a transit van driven by a git on a mobile runs into them saying "they just came out of nowhere."

We have to stop compromising on shit paint that does nothing. Either a facility makes cycling safer, achieving modal shift or it doesn't. If it doesn't: there is no fucking point doing it. 

1 comment:

  1. I know Gilbert Road well. It was part of my commuting route when I lived in Cambridge and I was a campaigner for better infrastructure on it myself.

    Please read my potted history of Gilbert Road and comparisons with a very similar road in Assen which works so very much better.