My first choice of event was to follow up an email that I’d sent to our county council a few weeks back. The photo left (courtesy of the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/content/images/2009/02/06/snow_ls9_470x353.jpg) shows the main road into my town centre. It is a narrow busy road that also carries a significant amount of through traffic as well as all the local traffic. You can see the cycle lane on the right side of the photo, between the snow-covered pavement (sidewalk) and the traffic. Basically, as long as you’re going straight along the road and don’t need to turn right, you’re fine-ish. Albeit scrunched into a very narrow “optional” (ie traffic shouldn’t be in it unless they can’t avoid it) cycle lane that disappears altogether when the road narrows still further. If you need to turn right – perhaps to get onto a recommended cycle route to town – you’re forced into choosing between praying for no lorries as you wait for a gap in the oncoming traffic, or hopping onto the pavement and waiting for a gap in traffic in both directions big enough to push the bike across. Which can easily take 10-15minutes in daylight hours.
A new primary school is due to open on the road next year, aggravating matters still further for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers so I had previously emailed the council to ask about provision for safe crossing points and safe routes to school. They gave me facts and dates, and I watched happily as a new Puffin crossing was installed near the new school. It was then seemingly abandoned about 5 weeks ago with bags over the lights and control boxes, and barriers across the pavement. Yesterday, the LGRAB task reminded me to chase the council for an update. I had a prompt response back detailing their frustration with the delay too. Followed by another email today saying that the crossing was planned to be fully functional by close of business tomorrow. Which means that from Friday onwards I’ll be able to ride the cycle-lane, stop and cross the road safely exactly where I need to, and head straight to the off-road route into town. People getting off buses at the adjacent bus stops will be able to cross safely, as will children starting at the new school next year. I don’t think there are many other changes which would make such a huge improvement to my ride into town, and which would be more likely to get me to choose the bike over the car. Who knows, if Small Girl ends up going to that school then she could ride in the trailer. Perhaps the cycle lane will be wide enough to accommodate it by then.
My second task is rather less of an essay. I did a familiar off-road ride this morning, but came back by a new road-route. I still think that I would generally choose a slower by-way where cyclists have undisputed priority over rare motorised traffic than an albeit beautiful and quiet country B road with a 60mph limit, but that’s splitting hairs really as I’m lucky to live somewhere that offers the choice. No photos, as I didn’t feel like stopping. I was passed by two cars and a van in about 1.5miles of riding (it was a short ride). I’m quite keen to try some more now.