Tag Archives: safety

Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff

10 Jul

The police have just announced a crack-down on people cycling on the pavement on Cowbridge Road East in Cardiff. For sure, many pedestrians are concerned about cycling on the pavement which is also against the law (highway code rule 145). Personally I would prefer there to be legal dispensation for young children to cycle on the pavement, but in general let’s ensure that the roads are safe for cyclists and make sure they use them which is after all what many cyclists are asking for.

Needless to say, rule 145 also makes it illegal to drive on the pavement, but the police and newspapers prefer to ignore that irritating little detail. It is also illegal to stop within the controlled area on the approach to a Toucan crossing (Highway code Rule 240) and an Act of Parliament, which was passed in 2004, should also have made it illegal to park in mandatory cycle lanes except that in 2010 the DfT was still procrastinating and consulting on the subject. The Highway Code rule 243 also says “DO NOT stop or park within 10 meters of a junction” (but of course DO NOT only means “we would prefer it if you didn’t but can’t do anything about it really”).

So lets take a look at what is going on on Crowbridge Road East. This great way to get an idea of a place us using Google Streetview which gives a snap-shot of life in British cities on a random day and a random time of day. Sometimes it is 4am on a Sunday, but for this bit of Cardiff it seems to be a typical day.

This image from Google Streetview shows cars parked almost continuously along the cycle lanes. Note that these are only ‘advisory’ cycle lanes, which have dotted lines, so even if the DfT had completed their ‘consultation’ it would still not be illegal to park in these lanes. There are however also cars parked on the zig-zags of the approach to a crossing which is highly illegal. Get video evidence of who is driving and the police may even accept it and prosecute.

Parking in cycle lanes on Crowbridge Road East

And then this one a few meters down the road on a junction where a cyclist was seriously hurt recently. It shows a van clearly parked fully on the pavement, and a 4×4 across the cycle-lane with two wheels up on the pavement within 10 meters of a junction.

Parking on the pavement and in cycle lanes on Crowbridge Road East

The wonderful OpenStreetMap is a good way to confirm that the speed limit around here is 30 mph which in practice generally means 35mph at which speed most pedestrians and cyclists that are hit will die. So now lets look at the safety record. Here is a map showing reported road casualties on this road. The map shows that one 16 yo boy and a 45 yo man and a motorcyclist have all been killed on the road in the past 11 years (between 2000 and 2010) with over a dozen serious injuries, including at least seven pedestrians and two cyclists and numerous slight injuries.

Road injuries on Crowbridge Road East and the surrounding area

So… did Google Streetview show up a huge problem of pavement cycling? Not exactly, more a problem of vehicle owners behaving anti-socially making cycle lanes unusable pushing cyclists onto either the main road (where they occasionally get killed) or onto the pavement.

‘Safe’ routes to school – no pavements and unlit at 60 mph?

5 Sep

Rural roads without pavements and 60mph speed limits are apparently officially considered ‘safe’ for children to walk to and from school on as long as the section without a footway is less than 3 miles long (2 miles long for under 8s). To quote the guardian todaySchool transport spending cuts mean that from this week many pupils will be walking to school along unlit 60mph roads without pavements … The current guidelines presume children will be accompanied by a responsible adult, meaning councils can declare routes up to three miles long (or two miles for under eights) safe even if they are unlit, have 60mph speed limits, no pavements or step-offs, and are used by heavy commercial traffic“. I believe that this is the road illustrated in the article as shown on Google Streetview.

Walking to school along 60mph roads with no pavements

Of course if drivers were to travel at a speed where they could stop within the distance they could see and ensured that pedestrians could walk safely along the edge of the carriageway then this might be sort of OK, but in current conditions where pedestrians are frequently forced to climb onto the verge for their own safety then it is not. Do check out my recent post about what happened to the father who wanted to ensure the safety of his child walking to school along a road that is probably very similar to the ones being discussed in this article who was threatened with arrest if he ‘willfully obstructed’ the traffic again.

Incidentally, in 2009 the Department for Transport proposed dropping the speed limit on many rural roads to 50mph estimating that this would cuts deaths by 250 per year but the idea was soon dropped. Rospa noted in 2010 thatAround one third of pedestrian fatalities occur on rural roads and the other two thirds on urban. Pedestrian injuries in rural areas are more likely to be fatal however, and the figures from table 2 show that 5% of all recorded pedestrian injuries resulting in a fatality, compared with urban areas where fatal casualties are 1.5%” and proposed lowering speed limits to 50 mph on some rural roads. Brake proposed it again earlier this year after commissioning a survey which found that one in eight drivers admitted overtaking on single carriageway roads when they could not see if it was clear.