I was down by the South Bank centre the other day, when I saw something which got me really angry. No, it wasn’t a bad theatre performance – it was a cycle path.
On the whole, cycle paths are great. Of course, there are some which are incredibly badly designed, and are either dangerous or take you in the opposite direction from where you want to go. But there are others which are just wonderful, allowing you to avoid nasty junctions by either creating a cut through or going the opposite direction along a one-way street.
The particular cycle path which left me so incensed does precisely this. It goes up the down slip-road from Waterloo Bridge, meaning that you end up on the left-hand carriageway heading back over the bridge, rather than having to go round a huge great roundabout.
Anyway, it wasn’t the cycle path itself that pissed me off, so much as the bloody great hole in the middle of it – as illustrated above. Note the cones and barrier. Note, also, the direction of the traffic (and while we’re at it, note the pedestrians walking up the cycle path – grr!). If I was cycling up here, I’d have to get off my bike and walk onto the road, directly facing the oncoming traffic. That’s not exactly safe, is it?
The worst of it is that this kind of thing happens all the time. Workmen, when digging up pavement, will mark out a route for pedestrians to walk along. If it’s the road itself that’s being dug up, there will be cones up to guide drivers. But if a cycle path is being dug up? Nada. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been cycling along a bike path and – without warning – had to stop, get off my bike, and walk it past some roadworks, and then get back on again.
At best, this shows they haven’t thought about cyclists. At worst, it shows that the workmen – and whoever is in charge of them – just don’t care. People will always complain about cyclists not respecting the rules of the road, running red lights or cycling on pavements. But how about having some respect for us? A sign apologising for the inconvenience, for example, or a signposted alternative bike route. Something which acknowledges our right to be there. Surely that’s not too much to ask for…is it?