When riding on the footpath should I.....

flecc

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Oct 25, 2006
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WARNING RANT ALERT!

What a typically fudged mess.
Fudged it may be in some views, but look at the reality of these facts:

1) 30 million drive regularly, less than 2 million cycle regularly, the whole population are pedestrians.

2) Britain is small, most of our urban areas are confined and old and the majority of roads are crowded with traffic and too narrow to allow safely for pedestrian refuge road islands, cyclists and motor vehicles at the same time.

3) With most of the population travelling in vehicles, the majority of pavements are empty most of the time. Built many decades ago when few owned vehicles and most walked, nationally they are now a vast area of very underused resource.

Obviously those near vacant pavements can carry some of the road overburden and I don't think politicians are unwise to employ them. Given the low speed of pedestrians, the only suitable roads element to transfer are bicycles, but of necessity ridden with care.

In many other countries this works without complaint. Indeed in Japan cyclists have to by law move onto the pavement in many urban areas. In the Netherlands there are many areas co-used by cyclist and pedestrians, and the same is true in many other countries, probably the majority worldwide.

The reason it works in all those other places is that cyclists ride at moderate speeds and are happy to ride slowly and considerately in the presence of pedestrians. The reason it isn't working here in Britain is that our cyclists all too often think they are taking part in the Tour de France and belt along at speeds dangerous to pedestrians, even when on pavements. That, together with passing close at speed, in turn scares and upsets pedestrians, causing or amplifying their anti-cyclist attitudes.

The answer is in cyclist's hands. I have no trouble when riding on the pavement and have even been thanked or praised by pedestrians at times when doing so. When there's no walkers around I ride at normal cycling speeds but slow well down when passing walkers approaching me, giving plenty of space.

When about to pass walkers from behind, I slow right down to a little above walking speed and ring my bell. They then often step aside, so as I slowly pass I smile and say "thank you, sorry to inconvenience you". That frequently brings a positive response, like"no problem" and even on occasion, "thank you for ringing your bell".

GeorgeHenry above has indicated that he rides in a similar fashion too and no doubt has little trouble with walkers.

There's no point in ranting about cycling facilities when there's frequently no space to provide them without bulldozing rows of buildings or compulsorily purchasing someone elses land. Nor is comparison with the Netherlands superb cycling facilities valid, when 70% of their population cycle daily and only well under 2% at most of ours do.

So over to you Britain's cyclists, accept that sharing pavements at times is a sensible measure in our confined and crowded country and adjust your riding to suit. It works in so many other places, so can here too if we want it to.
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Benjahmin

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I agree that cyclists need to be considerate and that the focus on sports cycling in this country does utility cycling no favours at all. However shared paths can only work with all round user discipline. Pedestrians who wander from side to side whilst texting. Dog walkers with extending garrote type leads that do not, in fact, control the dog. Joggers with headphones thus cutting of a vital part of their safety equipment. Mixing traffic, of any kind, that has a speed differential is going to take allowance, awareness and consideration on all sides. At the moment, where mixed paths are concerned, it is all lumped on the cyclist. What happened to the good old fashioned public information film that set out to inform and educate. We need a sustained campaign for pedestrians and cyclists (especially for the twats who jump red lights etc.).
For cyclists, we need to overide this speed at all costs attitude. How ridiculous is it to see an overweight fourty something dressed in skin tight lycra, to save a fraction of wind resistance, on a£2k areo frame bike, when their lardy profile resists more air than they can possibly save. Good on 'em for getting out there but lets stop pretending that it has anything to do with sports and have a social campaign that says,' Hey, utilty and leisure cycling is OK. You don't have to try to be Bradly Wiggins any more'. Enjoy your ride, take in the scenery, say hello to people you pass, have a laugh and a joke with the old dear who gets a surprise by your prescence.
Lets go for the impossible, agitate for it, advocate for it, moan, complain and demonstrate. That way we may end up with something that is tolerable to all users instead of it being a battle ground. The status quo is not cutting it, our transport enviroment needs to fundamentaly change - quickly!
 
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flecc

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Mixing traffic, of any kind, that has a speed differential is going to take allowance, awareness and consideration on all sides. At the moment, where mixed paths are concerned, it is all lumped on the cyclist.
But that's as it should be. A cyclist can easily adjust down to walking speeds, few pedestrians can get up to our typical cycling speeds.

And pavements are primarily a pedestrian facility so I think we should tolerate them using them in various ways, phoning, texting, dog walking, day dreaming etc. I don't think they should have to look out for cyclists, it's for us to either adjust to them in their environment or get back onto the road.

Tolerance and a smile work wonders, the more cyclists adopt that approach, the more pedestrians will become happy to share with them and begin to make the allowances for us that we all desire.
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Bergan4

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I completely agree. I hope the problem is solved and you are satisfied. Thank you for your question, the conversation was useful to us all.
 
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Zlatan

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Nov 26, 2016
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I had a good one yesterday. Cycling towards Bamford on the clearly labelled dual usage path/pavement. I was confronted by a dog walker coming other he said that he was very annoyed with me and that I should be on the road (snake pass) and that I should know better. Between himself and a bloody great Alsation he blocked my path. By coincidence we had stopped right on top of a 3ft white wide pushbike painted on the floor. I pointed, he grunted.. "oh, it is a cycle path" and then said" but I, m still annoyed".???!!!
I asked what at and cycled on.
 
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Benjahmin

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This is the main problem with shared use paths. For many years the regulation of not riding adult sized bikes on the pavement was absolute. You didn't do it and you got shouted at if you did. I know there's signs etc., but your average, non cycling pedestrian doesn't take them in, and noboddy's ever told them different. Now we have fudge and grey area's leading to annoyance and confrontation.
Here's a radical one. Scrap HS2 and use the billions saved to fund a nationwide cycling infrastructure revolution! How green is that?
 

flecc

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Scrap HS2 and use the billions saved to fund a nationwide cycling infrastructure revolution! How green is that?
It's not so much green as impossible, sadly. All we could achieve is a patchwork of disjointed bits of cyclepaths, which is what we've got now anyway.

In our small historic country we've mainly built narrow roads, often lined with buildings and privately owned property. So solve these riddles, given we have only 2 million cycling fairly regularly and over 30 million driving motor vehicles

1) Two lane road with two pavements. Where does the cycle lane go?

2) Four lane road with two pavements, both edge lanes of the road with parked cars, vans etc and nowhere else for them to be.

3) Central pedestrian refuge islands on these roads, very necessary for safety, but making pinch points that part cycle lanes or makes them unsafe.

4) Narrow single lane roads through bridges or other restricted spaces, either one way or light controlled two way. Where does the cycle lane go?

These are just a tiny number of numerous examples. They are only soluble with an immense program of compulsory purchase and bulldozing, but of course that is impossible with the few cyclists so greatly outnumbered by all the victims of such a program. If you think Brexit is causing disharmony, imagine what this would create.

Continental examples are often mentioned, but they are false comparisons for several reasons. Firstly their cities were often built or reconstructed on grander scales, due due to having more space. Second, their populations are often much smaller with much more space. Third, the scale of damage that they suffered far more than us from WW2 caused widespead opportunities for reconstruction in more modern ways. Fourth, their slower recovery after WW2 meant much slower takeup of cars and much longer continuation of post war cycling. This enabled the authorities to plan better for cycling versus cars, the Netherlands being a notable example of this and an opportunity we never had at the time. But even in that cycling friendly place, their cycling facilities build program has been running for 47 years and is below two thirds complete.

So no matter how much we save from scrapping HS2, Heathrow's third runway, Trident etc., we can't spend it on a really good cycling infrastructure due to what that would do to the great majority. It's dead easy to do when 70% already cycle daily as in The Netherlands, or 50% already cycle daily as they do in Denmark's cities. They are strong majorities that our less than 3% of daily cyclists can't compare with.

As the future will certainly show, we'll just have to be satisfied with a steady progression of what is possible, where it's possible.
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oyster

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Nov 7, 2017
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It's not so much green as impossible, sadly. All we could achieve is a patchwork of disjointed bits of cyclepaths, which is what we've got now anyway.

In our small historic country we've mainly built narrow roads, often lined with buildings and privately owned property. So solve these riddles, given we have only 2 million cycling fairly regularly and over 30 million driving motor vehicles

1) Two lane road with two pavements. Where does the cycle lane go?

2) Four lane road with two pavements, both edge lanes of the road with parked cars, vans etc and nowhere else for them to be.

3) Central pedestrian refuge islands on these roads, very necessary for safety, but making pinch points that part cycle lanes or makes them unsafe.

4) Narrow single lane roads through bridges or other restricted spaces, either one way or light controlled two way. Where does the cycle lane go?

These are just a tiny number of numerous examples. They are only soluble with an immense program of compulsory purchase and bulldozing, but of course that is impossible with the few cyclists so greatly outnumbered by all the victims of such a program. If you think Brexit is causing disharmony, imagine what this would create.

Continental examples are often mentioned, but they are false comparisons for several reasons. Firstly their cities were often built or reconstructed on grander scales, due due to having more space. Second, their populations are often much smaller with much more space. Third, the scale of damage that they suffered far more than us from WW2 caused widespead opportunities for reconstruction in more modern ways. Fourth, their slower recovery after WW2 meant much slower takeup of cars and much longer continuation of post war cycling. This enabled the authorities to plan better for cycling versus cars, the Netherlands being a notable example of this and an opportunity we never had at the time. But even in that cycling friendly place, their cycling facilities build program has been running for 47 years and is below two thirds complete.

So no matter how much we save from scrapping HS2, Heathrow's third runway, Trident etc., we can't spend it on a really good cycling infrastructure due to what that would do to the great majority. It's dead easy to do when 70% already cycle daily as in The Netherlands, or 50% already cycle daily as they do in Denmark's cities. They are strong majorities that our less than 3% of daily cyclists can't compare with.

As the future will certainly show, we'll just have to be satisfied with a steady progression of what is possible, where it's possible.
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I am very pleased that there seems to be a positive policy in favour of cycle paths round here. For example Sustrans 4. And several road schemes have so obviously had shared use/cycle paths integrated into their design.

We need this effort not to be incremented but to be multiplied.
 
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flecc

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I am very pleased that there seems to be a positive policy in favour of cycle paths round here. For example Sustrans 4. And several road schemes have so obviously had shared use/cycle paths integrated into their design.

We need this effort not to be incremented but to be multiplied.
Yes I fully agree, it's easy with new schemes and the will is there. But the real problem is in the existing infrastructure as I've shown, and that is where 85% of the population live.

It will be a couple of hundred years before that is replaced, especially in our history obsessed country where there's always someone with punch wanting to preserve every damn thing. We can't even knock down ugly unused power station chimneys, this is IKEA Croydon because so many protested against knocking down the former power station chimneys.

 

oyster

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Yes I fully agree, it's easy with new schemes and the will is there. But the real problem is in the existing infrastructure as I've shown, and that is where 85% of the population live.

It will be a couple of hundred years before that is replaced, especially in our history obsessed country where there's always someone with punch wanting to preserve every damn thing. We can't even knock down ugly unused power station chimneys, this is IKEA Croydon because so many protested against knocking down the former power station chimneys.

Many years ago I worked in Croydon. Not my favourite experience. :)

This is one local-ish path. Obviously done when the road was improved - some time ago.

Cycle/shared use path along busy road.
 

Benjahmin

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The reason there are so few cyclist in this country is precisely because there has been and is a car centric agenda. Think back to the days of Beeching in the 60's. He was appointed by the minister of transport Ernest Marples. Beeching scrapped thousands of miles of railways (many of them loss making) but many of them the only means of local transport. Marples instigated the building of road infrastructure, including motorways, that lent itself only to cars and trucks. And, lo and behold, he was later found to have huge connections with the car industry that he made a packet out of. So now we have a cycling and pedestrian unfriendly way of going about things that needs to change if we are to have any kind of future. Yes this is a small crowded island but I think you'll find the population density in Holland is far higher.
The way we think about personal transport and the distances travelled and at what frequency has got to change. This needs to be an across the board re- education as to what expectations any one individual can reasonably have. "Oh, I think I'll pop over to Prague for the weekend on a £49 flight, just because I fancy a pish up" has got to become a thing of the past.
Of course none of this will happen because politicians don't think beyond the next election. In the mean time we are destroying the enviroment we need to survive.
 
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flecc

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The reason there are so few cyclist in this country is precisely because there has been and is a car centric agenda.
Although I've agreed overall with your post, it's incorrect to say there has been a car centric agenda as the cause of lack of cycling. Post WW2 there were almost no cars left on our roads and the population mostly cycled or used public transport. The public's trend to motorisation began in the 1950s and was rapidly increasing in the early 1960s and well established long before Beeching's recommendations were implemented from the mid 1960s onwards.

So the public demand for personal motorised transport came first, the political agenda followed it to meet the popular demand. And of course once the public has enjoyed the undeniably immense advantages of using cars, it becomes almost impossible to convert them to cycling voluntarily.

Such a change has to be enforced, and London has set the example in this country in several ways. The main one is the Central London congestion charge, currently £11.50 a day, but for some being boosted by the Ultra Low Emissions Zone charge to £24 a day, broadly for diesels over four years old and petrols over 14 years old. Fully electric cars and vans free of both charges.

Another long standing London restriction is no planning permission for enough parking spaces, typically the number of spaces allowed in construction schemes is a small fraction of the demand. My 1960s/70s estate was one of the last to be allowed a garage or space per residence plus additional visitor bays. Today a developer would be lucky to get one in ten.

The outcome is that London household's car ownership ratio is the lowest in the country, our bus fleet has doubled to over 9000, we have a tram network in South London, Crossrail being completed plus other platform lengthening will greatly expand urban rail travel and we have some 300,000 cycle commuting daily, some on a new largely separated East-West urban cycleway.

But the urban population of London (higher than the official boundaries figure) is over 10.2 millions, so the 0.3 million cycling is peanuts, showing that despite both enforcement and encouragement, we have a very long way to go.
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BazP

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Oct 8, 2017
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Speaking of Beeching reminded me of the biggest waste of recourses in my area is the old railway lines that serviced the coal fields and are now lying disused. From Nottingham up to Leeds there are lines going in all directions linking hundreds of villages and towns.
Some councils are more switched on or have more money to spend than others. Several short sections of line have been converted for cycling/walking, sometimes financed via European grants, but seem more focused on leisure than commuting. One particular section in Barnsley has been tarmacked 8ft wide for 1 mile rather than 3 or 4ft wide for much longer. Perhaps there are some big councillors in Barnsley.
Sustrans has the longish No.6 route running through my area but most upgraded railway routes start and finish in no-mans land.
 

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