As the weather was warm this Sunday I decided to go for a walk to the Country Park. I am lucky living in Daventry in that the conversion of the old railway line (I believe that this was one of Dr Beeching’s victims) has resulted in a tree lined path from the north side of Daventry to the town centre that involves crossing only one small road in a housing estate. Not only can I get to the Country Park without going near any major roads, but I can also get to the industrial estate that I work on by bicycle or on foot by the same path.
I have to applaud the council for providing this amenity, and for its upkeep. It has also provided me with views of various fauna including muntjac, squirrels, blackcaps and fieldfares. However, whilst Daventry Council is better than many in providing separate footpaths and cycle paths (although until recently the use of some footpaths involved crossing the road a few times when the paths inexplicably ran out on one side of the road and started again on the opposite side), they have also fallen prey to the strange tendency that seems to have befallen many councils.
What am I talking about? The decision to put cycle paths along the side of the road, amongst all of the gutters. This type of cycle path causes all manner of problems.
Firstly, the lanes are narrow, and are not wide enough to cycle in. Secondly, the last place that cyclists want to be is in the same place as the gutter, these are noticeable enough when in a car, let alone on a bicycle. Thirdly, cars have a tendency to park in these lanes as there does not seem to be any hard and fast rules about where to park if there is a cycle lane.
However, there are two bigger problems than these, the paths often run out for no reason – then where am I supposed to cycle?
The final problem is one that I noted when waiting to walk across a road in a housing estate that has cycle lanes. I watched eight cars go past, but not one of those cars managed to travel 100 metres without crossing into the cycle lane. Tell me why should I get my bicycle out rather than getting in the car to go somewhere. Not only will I have to risk life and limb, but my bicycle will probably be stolen when I get to my destination.When will town planners realise that a coat is not sufficient protection for a bicycle compared to the metal shell of tonne of car? Cyclists should be given the same protection as pedestrians and given cycle lanes away from the danger and pollution of the road.