The worst place in the UK for cycling?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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TrevA
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby TrevA » 19 Sep 2019, 6:29pm

Regarding London pollution, I used to attend regular business meetings in London (Westminster) right up until when I retired 4 months ago. My experience is therefore quite recent. As I said, dirty and still polluted despite ULEZ. My son lives in London so I still go quite regularly.

About a year ago, I caught a bus from Waterloo to Oxford Street. It took half an hour to get to Charing Cross, which is only halfway (I got off and walked after that as it was quicker). The bus didn’t move at all for 10 whole minutes along the road towards Charing Cross station. No stop/start technology, the bus just sat there belching out fumes all that time.

I used to work next to the most polluted junction in Nottingham (London Road roundabout), but it was nothing compared to central London.
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foxyrider
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby foxyrider » 19 Sep 2019, 7:22pm

Having been domiciled in Sheffield for 40 years I have to that its a joy compared Chesterfield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Mansfield...... :wink: There are easy bike friendly routes out of the city, there is no need, indeed bikes aren't allowed on the main arterial route into the city. Oh its far from a cycling nirvana but considering the somewhat hilly terrain the city occupies there is a disproportionate number of cyclists in the city.

Chesterfield on paper looks good with lots of cycle lanes and routes - problem is you can't use most of them as they allow parking at all times on most of the on road network making the lanes/routes actually more dangerous.

Rotherham is swathed in busy dual carriageways and I've yet to find a route that's usable across the town.

Barnsley is a nightmare of steep climbs, poor road surfaces and no joined up cycle infrastructure.

Mansfield suffers from parking in the sometimes strange bike lanes that weave in and out, up and down curbs, throw you into the traffic at pinch points...There are some good bits but its a place I try to avoid using the bike infrastructure as it makes my journey more not less stressful.
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby brynpoeth » 19 Sep 2019, 7:55pm

The air in London is very bad now, tiny particles one cannae see or smell
Last edited by brynpoeth on 20 Sep 2019, 5:28am, edited 1 time in total.
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ossie
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby ossie » 19 Sep 2019, 8:35pm

mjr wrote:
And a special mention for Harwich: greeting Dutch cyclists with a cycle route sign pointing across a high kerb and then an unnecessary 2½ mile detour around the headland on steep bumpy bramble-infested cycleways and narrow painted footpaths before joining unreconstructed B roads and back roads anyway... Well, it might lower their expectations appropriately but it's embarrassing!


Agree...that route out of Harwich really is a disgrace and those B roads are hellish if you are coming off the morning ferry . Welcome to the UK just a totally unpleasant experience . Even passport control look at you with a degree of sympathy.

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Sweep
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby Sweep » 19 Sep 2019, 8:38pm

The utility cyclist wrote:London, end of conversation.

Care to say why?
I find london excellent for cycling in so many ways.
And getting better all the time.
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Sweep
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby Sweep » 19 Sep 2019, 8:43pm

Mick F wrote:Me and a mate went to London - early 1970 - in uniform. We were very junior at the time, 17 years old, dressed in "sailor suits" as we always had to go ashore in uniform. We weren't allowed plain clothes. First time I'd been to London too.

My mate had a girlfriend in Bethnal Green, so we hopped on the train from Portsmouth to Waterloo, then worked our way via the Underground to BG and walked to her house, then I played gooseberry whilst we went out to see the local sights . London was filthy. The white fronts of our suits went grey, snot and muck blocked our nostrils. Horrible filthy place.

This is from me who hails from Wigan. Also smelly and dirty back then, but London was a quantum leap further. Never forgotten it, and my nose is still smelling it even now.

Mick, london has changed out of all recognition since 1970 (always amused me the swinging london many folks thought of) i arrived in 78 and it is now barely recognisable from that. I fear you are living in sweeney land.
There are also clubs these days, or there were until recently in the east end, where you would totally fit in in your sailor togs.
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby francovendee » 20 Sep 2019, 8:07am

I was born in London in 1943 and lived there until 1983.
London was a dirty city, coal fires were the norm, building were uniformly black and I well remember the smogs.
London isn't the same place today and I struggle to recognise it as my city of birth, multi ethnic, very crowded and much smartened up.
I must stress none of this is a bad thing, I just can't see anything that reminds me of my childhood.
Air pollution around Oxford street is beyond acceptable levels, truly choking. and must be as bad as in the days of coal fires.
I've heard that air pollution in some of the wealthiest parts such as Kensington have the highest levels of pollution.
As for cycling in the Capital, it isn't for me, I'd leave that for the brave souls who risk their lives sharing the crowded roads and breathing that heavily polluted air :(

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby mjr » 20 Sep 2019, 8:21am

francovendee wrote:As for cycling in the Capital, it isn't for me, I'd leave that for the brave souls who risk their lives sharing the crowded roads and breathing that heavily polluted air :(

I don't have to share the crowded London roads with incompetent motorists much any more. There are refuges on the busiest roads and routes signed along quieter and filtered roads. It does mean one rarely cycles much in the refusenik boroughs like Kensington and Westminster except for the Royal Parks but, unsurprisingly, they're amongst the worst polluted anyway.

The brave and bold are still there cycling among heavy traffic and taking risks I wouldn't, but that's no longer the only option.
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby pwa » 20 Sep 2019, 8:24am

There are crap places to cycle all over the UK, mostly in urban areas. What distinguishes them is the lack of alternatives to noisy, busy roads if you want to go any distance on your bike. Places like London, Manchester and Birmingham obviously have issues due to the scale of the urbanisation, though new infrastructure can improve things and arguably provides best value for money in those high population density regions. But the are less obvious problem locations. The Rhondda in South Wales is a place I avoid because in the steep sided valleys the urban development, and the traffic, is confined to the valley bottom and lower slopes, and if you are going far it requires detailed local knowledge to avoid the worst roads for long. Even with that knowledge you will end up on congested roads at times. There simply aren't alternatives.

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby Vorpal » 20 Sep 2019, 9:00am

The place I disliked the most for cycling was Southend-on-Sea.

The promenade is inviting, but extremely busy on nice weekends. The alternative road is very busy with traffic, including racer types showing off their modifications and all too happy to harass cyclists. An unfortunate proportion of drivers are aggressive and unforgiving.

There are a couple of patches of decent cycleway, one of which is on Victoria (A127), separated by a hedge from the main carriageway. But it only lasts a couple hundred metres or so.

There are lots of parallel residential streets that would make brilliant quite routes with a little permeability engineering, but instead they are full of parked up cars and rat-runners.

There are no direct routes approaching Southend-on-Sea that are not busy, though Rayleigh Road or Southend Road are better than the A13 or A127. The A13 and A127 have segregated cycle tracks, but they vary hugely from halfway decent to narrow, bumpy, overgrown, glass strewn pavements without safe crossings. The best bit is the A13 along Hadleigh Castle & park, where the cycle path is away from the road a bit, and there is parkland on the other side.
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The utility cyclist
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby The utility cyclist » 20 Sep 2019, 11:42am

Sweep wrote:
The utility cyclist wrote:London, end of conversation.

Care to say why?
I find london excellent for cycling in so many ways.
And getting better all the time.

See my previous post.
Sheer numbers of pedestrians stepping out in front of you (yes even on a Sunday), the motor traffic numbers/density and propensity of drivers not giving a fig about your safety is far worse than any other place I've travelled, the number of larger vehicles also increases the problems as we see every year in the death toll. Add into which the installed infra is pretty much garbage, luring unsuspecting people on bikes to use it which actually increases conflict points (with peds and motorists) and simply pushes you out of sight and out of mind of motors, I was fooled into using the infra on my last visit and was left hooked, if I had been riding on the road itself I would have been safe and the incident would not have happened. There's next to zero priority, it's not joined up, it's circuitous, takes you behind bus stops with ramps up and down, it's simply a load of pony.

I've cycled through a lot of the bigger UK cities during rush hour, not commuting as such, it's irrelevant that the problems stem much from London's size/popularity, it's simply a hateful place to cycle, it's dangerous more so than anywhere else I've ridden, even Paris was nicer though that was some years back but comparing to London at the same time period London back in the 90s was still a hole and remains so just even worse.

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby mjr » 20 Sep 2019, 11:57am

The utility cyclist wrote:Add into which the installed infra is pretty much garbage, luring unsuspecting people on bikes to use it which actually increases conflict points (with peds and motorists)

As I posted recently in another topic when you made that claim, it's not true - and it won't be, no matter how many times it's claimed.

and simply pushes you out of sight and out of mind of motors, I was fooled into using the infra on my last visit and was left hooked, if I had been riding on the road itself I would have been safe and the incident would not have happened.

Why? Cyclists still get left-hooked riding on the road itself, sometimes even if they ride centrally in a narrow lane.

There's next to zero priority, it's not joined up, it's circuitous, takes you behind bus stops with ramps up and down, it's simply a load of pony.

I've no problems with bus stop islands in general, but I think you were on CS2 near Stratford, which is one of the earlier attempts and one I won't really defend much. It's not very good and has some pretty bad defects. Some could be fixed easily but annoyingly haven't and it should be basically rebuilt in the manner of central sections of CS3 and 6, but it's probably right that the mayor prioritises the sections that still have nothing except hostile roads, so far as is possible. Of course, rebuilding CS2 could happen sooner if a mayor would put a higher share of the transport budget into cycling, but that's been a problem with mayors of all parties - and governments all over the UK.

I've cycled through a lot of the bigger UK cities during rush hour, not commuting as such, it's irrelevant that the problems stem much from London's size/popularity, it's simply a hateful place to cycle, it's dangerous more so than anywhere else I've ridden, even Paris was nicer though that was some years back but comparing to London at the same time period London back in the 90s was still a hole and remains so just even worse.

I suspect you may not like what Paris has been up to, building a big network of cycleways very quickly but some of them really really on the cheap, joined up with painted lanes across pavements, with some inexplicably having compulsory cycleway signs on them. Completing the network quickly seems to be getting prioritised over building the best designs possible.
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby simonhill » 20 Sep 2019, 1:47pm

Vorpal wrote:The place I disliked the most for cycling was Southend-on-Sea.

The promenade is inviting, but extremely busy on nice weekends. The alternative road is very busy with traffic, including racer types showing off their modifications and all too happy to harass cyclists. An unfortunate proportion of drivers are aggressive and unforgiving.

There are a couple of patches of decent cycleway, one of which is on Victoria (A127), separated by a hedge from the main carriageway. But it only lasts a couple hundred metres or so.

There are lots of parallel residential streets that would make brilliant quite routes with a little permeability engineering, but instead they are full of parked up cars and rat-runners.

There are no direct routes approaching Southend-on-Sea that are not busy, though Rayleigh Road or Southend Road are better than the A13 or A127. The A13 and A127 have segregated cycle tracks, but they vary hugely from halfway decent to narrow, bumpy, overgrown, glass strewn pavements without safe crossings. The best bit is the A13 along Hadleigh Castle & park, where the cycle path is away from the road a bit, and there is parkland on the other side.


As someone who knows Southend very well, I tend to agree that it is pretty poor for cycling.

sadly, as far as I am aware your best bit along the A13 in Hadleigh isn't actually a cycle path it is the footpath/pavement. Also I wasn't aware that the A13 had a segregated cycle path.

I agree that the seafront cycle path is a bit iffy, but this is mainly due to pedestrians. The Council (no fan) have made it as clear as possible that it is a cycle path - hard kerb on either side, different colour (green), signage and painted cycles on the path, etc. Nonetheless, the peds just walk across it without looking. Others park too close, ignoring the safety zone and then use the cycle path to unload on. I cycle this route most mid week mornings in the summer and it is OK if you are early enough (pre 10 am). Once the trippers arrive and particularly at weekends it is very difficult to use safely. A further flaw with it is that in the middle it becomes a shared space around the busiest part of the seafront - madness. For me most days, pedestrians are a far bigger problem than cars

I always consider it a leisure route, more suited to gentle pedalling and not fit for faster road bikes (particularly ones without a bell). Most (sensible) fast roadies use the road, but they attract the ire of drivers who wonder why they aren't on the cycle path. The problem with the road is that it is a mixture of people going slow and enjoying the seafront and others who use it as a fast East West route through the town.

The Council did 'make' a new inland route through the western half of town route, following Prittlewell Brook. Great idea, except that in about 3 miles, it crosses 13 side roads with no crossing protection. You emerge from a leafy path right onto the pavement. Dodgy for adults, potentially lethal for kids.

In Southend, the use of advance stop zones is wonderfully indiscriminate, presumably based on where it was convenient to paint them, rather than where they are really needed. Many of the town centre on road cycle paths fade in and out as space allows. Personally I rarely use them and just ride the roads that I need to ride to get to wherever.

On one thing Southend was years ahead of other towns as back in the 1930s the A127 was constructed with full width bike lanes on either side (as was the A12) all the way from London to Southend. For a great part of the A127 these still exist on at least one side and give reasonable access into the town, albeit probably with plenty of road debris and sometimes compromised by slip roads and other 'road improvements'. Unfortunately as you get into the town, these paths are often used for parking etc.

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby The utility cyclist » 20 Sep 2019, 2:20pm

mjr wrote:
The utility cyclist wrote:Add into which the installed infra is pretty much garbage, luring unsuspecting people on bikes to use it which actually increases conflict points (with peds and motorists)

As I posted recently in another topic when you made that claim, it's not true - and it won't be, no matter how many times it's claimed.

and simply pushes you out of sight and out of mind of motors, I was fooled into using the infra on my last visit and was left hooked, if I had been riding on the road itself I would have been safe and the incident would not have happened.

Why? Cyclists still get left-hooked riding on the road itself, sometimes even if they ride centrally in a narrow lane.

There's next to zero priority, it's not joined up, it's circuitous, takes you behind bus stops with ramps up and down, it's simply a load of pony.

I've no problems with bus stop islands in general, but I think you were on CS2 near Stratford, which is one of the earlier attempts and one I won't really defend much. It's not very good and has some pretty bad defects. Some could be fixed easily but annoyingly haven't and it should be basically rebuilt in the manner of central sections of CS3 and 6, but it's probably right that the mayor prioritises the sections that still have nothing except hostile roads, so far as is possible. Of course, rebuilding CS2 could happen sooner if a mayor would put a higher share of the transport budget into cycling, but that's been a problem with mayors of all parties - and governments all over the UK.

I've cycled through a lot of the bigger UK cities during rush hour, not commuting as such, it's irrelevant that the problems stem much from London's size/popularity, it's simply a hateful place to cycle, it's dangerous more so than anywhere else I've ridden, even Paris was nicer though that was some years back but comparing to London at the same time period London back in the 90s was still a hole and remains so just even worse.

I suspect you may not like what Paris has been up to, building a big network of cycleways very quickly but some of them really really on the cheap, joined up with painted lanes across pavements, with some inexplicably having compulsory cycleway signs on them. Completing the network quickly seems to be getting prioritised over building the best designs possible.


installing cycling infra as it is in London and much of all the infra in the UK does increase conflict points, you've actually seen the Leeds Bradford infra right? You keep saying it doesn't but that's clearly untrue, why do you keep ignoring the truth, why do the Dutch have over 60 deaths a year at these conflict points when it's supposed to be the safest place to cycle on the planet, 200 deaths annually (and rising despite no increase in cycling) with most of that on segregated shows you that it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Why do cyclists in London continue to die and get injured at a worse rate despite the increases in cycling and infra? Deaths 2016 at its lowest and since more cycling infra has been put in place those deaths have gone back up in 2017 and 2018, deaths in 2019 are likely going to be higher again, 55 people (peds/cyclists) already dead in the capital up til mid September, cycling has increased but safety in numbers right, well either that's another lie told to cyclists or the infra isn't working, which is it?

I didn't just cycle through CS2 but if you commute through London enough or cycle around it for any other reason you will encounter hardly any infra, and what there is is pretty much already rammed because it's not wid enough and because the thinking is as you, that we need segregation, which is the wrong answer to the problem.
It all adds up to make London a horrible place to cycle, any day of the week, even worse during the week/commuter times.

Oh and as for Paris, it already has a much larger and already existing motorist free days, London doesn't have any of that does it, it's coming up but it's within a very small area, Paris allows people on bikes to go through a red light, changing the road laws to allow cyclists to go straight on or turn right (or left for us). Also cycling deaths in Paris are between 3 and 5 according to a BBC report, London is doing well if it has 10 sorry but London is miles behind in cycling safety terms and as I first said, London is the worst place to cycle in the UK, hands down IMO, nowhere else I've cycled is anywhere close to that hole. Oh and I car commuted into, around and through for a decade, I've seen how things work and changes that never came to make things safer.
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby nirakaro » 20 Sep 2019, 3:17pm

Forty-odd years ago, I had a regular commute through Docklands and along the Commercial Road, which was pretty lively; plus the occasional ride 'up west', with the exhilaration of navigating Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch on a bike. Loved it!
These days, my London cycling is limited to crossing the centre between stations, Kings Cross to London Bridge or Victoria, with a fine bit of sightseeing on the way. I still love it. Horses for courses I guess.