The worst place in the UK for cycling?

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

Postby Vorpal » 20 Sep 2019, 3:53pm

simonhill wrote:
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 had a look around on google earth (maybe I should have done that before posting :oops: ) and I see there aren't any little blue signs on the pavements along the A13.

When I had occasion to cycle there, I used the road, but other cyclists I saw were mostly on the pavement. If I had to take a guess, less than 10% used the road. So I assumed it was pavement shared use. Certainly, the pavements are wider in some areas than places other authorities have made shared use. I have used the pavement by Hadleigh, as I thought it was cycle path, and I'm quite sure that I saw others doing so, as well.

simonhill wrote: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.
I agree that it is a leisure route. I never commuted in Southend, so I haven't experienced it early enough to be nice, though I can well imagine that it's lovely place to ride a bike at 6:00 am.
simonhill wrote: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.

I've used the A127 cycle paths for most of their length at one point or another. I can well imagine that they were quite good before the slip lanes were put in. Because honestly, where the original ones are still there, they're wide enough that, if well maintained, they'd be fine between junctions. But some of the slip roads are an absolute nightmare. The speed limits have been reduced in some areas since I was cycling in the area, which must help a little, but those cycle paths would be *greatly* improved with safe crossings.

The A12, where the paths haven't been taken out as part of road widening schemes are much the same.

The shame of it is that there is some really lovely cycling on the lanes in the area.
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mercalia
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby mercalia » 20 Sep 2019, 3:58pm

clearly Mancester if this is what they allow to happen?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-m ... r-49769107

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby DaveGos » 20 Sep 2019, 4:06pm

Si wrote:Well, my nomination, back in 2011, was Telford. Funnily enough I went through there a couple of weeks back on a cycle tour. Don't know what it's like as a whole but I followed the Silkin way and NCN85. Have to say that it was very pleasant. Used a perfectly adequately surfaced old railway line to get out of the Severn Valley rather than the 1 in 7 that I used to use. Cycle paths (some shared, some segregated, but all perfectly fine to use) to get me right into the centre with little effort. Signs in a couple of places could have been better, although in one place the signs were right and opencyclemap was wrong IIRC. Also took me through a very nice park in the middle that I'd never got to by bike before.


I live on the edge of Telford just in the country . I dont think its the worst but its not good. It should be a lot better . Its a number of mining towns and one Market town combined into a new town . This means it had lots of old railway lines and canals suitable for conversion to cycling paths , some of this was done the best one being as mentioned the Silkin way , but very little in North Telford. There was quite a few cycle paths built with the original new town work , including underpasses but much of it is not maintained full of glass and brambles and not sign posted and not used. They had lots of opportunities to do a good job but did not , plenty of land, old lanes etc that could be used , but the original work was done in the 70s a time when the bike was forgotten . There are a few issues because its a bit hilly . The most annoying thing is they have done virtually nothing in recent years. They spent 10 million on a replacement footbridge to the railway station . It spans two 2 lane dual carriageways and is vital for cycling as the alternatives involve 3 lane traffic islands. Its worse for cycling than the bridge it replaces You are suppose to walk , there is no ramp down on the oneside that they use to have so you have to use a lift or steps . It does not join up to the closeby main cycle route . Thats with £10 m for a footbridge , and somehow it won awards. They have spent many millions on making the traffic roundabouts bigger , but that makes them very dangerous for cycling

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby mjr » 20 Sep 2019, 7:12pm

The utility cyclist wrote: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.

(deep breath): Yes, I've seen the Leeds Bradford and it's far far worse than London and several other recent UK builds and yes if you pick the worst it's awful. If done well, it doesn't increase conflict points (see illustration below). I don't ignore the truth and I don't understand why you do. Maybe the Dutch have over 60 deaths a year at conflict points and 200 annually because 93% of Dutch residents cycle frequently, compared to 17% of English and Welsh, with over a third listing cycles as their most common vehicles (a question not even asked here!) and a modal share of 27% (compared to 1.7%). It's probably rising partly because of e-bike crashes at standstill being classed as cycling deaths in NL, which they are not in GB which hinders comparisons

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,

Those are the absolute numbers. What are the rates, please?

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?

That's a false dilemma because it seems to me that you've misunderstood safety in numbers, which is "the more people cycle, the safer it is for each individual cyclist" - so if cyclist numbers increase enough, the absolute number of deaths may increase, but the risk for each cyclist can still fall.

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.

London's bad in some ways but most of that sounds like because it's busy in so many ways, not because of the refuges. (And they're not segregation because cyclists can and do still use the other lanes when the infra overflows.)

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).

Yes, those are all good moves which could and should be done here and the red light turns aren't only in Paris, but I was more interested what you thought of the cheapskate infrastructure there? Stuff like https://goo.gl/maps/TTeEjnHFHZaJbkyc8 although that one has a square (optional) sign not a round (compulsory) one.

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.

So why hasn't Paris's worse infra resulted in more cycling deaths than London's? Maybe the hazards are not primarily about the infra existing...
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby Ivorcadaver » 20 Sep 2019, 9:35pm

mjr wrote:
Si wrote:I'm guessing that I may have nominated Birmingham as one of the worst towns too.

Guess no longer! 2011's nominations were:
· Cheltenham (Mark R)
· Guildford (ChrisPeck)
· Reading (thelawnet)
· Bolton (Nutsey)
· Preston (Nutsey)
· Bury (Nutsey)
· Salford (blackbike, Nutsey)
· Liverpool (jochta)
· Telford (Si)
· Sheffield (nez)
· Warrington (ransos)
· Cambourne, Cambs (snibgo)
· Slough (PW)
· ...and then the usual suspects posts the usual lies about Milton Keynes and it all gets derailed.

The only one of that list near me is Cambourne and I've still never visited it - probably partly due to there being no great route to it by bike and no real reason for me to go to or through it. Of the others, I've ridden Sheffield a few years ago and thought it was average but the tramlines are a big hazard they've not dealt with at all.

I've visited a few of the others without riding much and didn't see much to indicate them as good or bad. Still nothing sticking in my memory like Nuneaton - I've just looked at 2019 photos and the bad designs are still there. It should be made a criminal offence to paint a cycle lane so narrow that the bike symbol's wheels are not only oval, but almost square and still touching both line and kerb!

I'm not much interested in the usual "any town", "anywhere with hills" and "anywhere without hills" suggestions unless there's something special about that place which makes it specially bad for cycling compared to a similar place elsewhere.[/quote

I note Bolton and Salford on this list. My daily commute takes me through these gems of cycling infrastructure; the daily battle with school run SUVs, black Audis/BMWs, black smoke belching buses and skip lorries, gutters full of nitrous oxide canisters (who would have thought squirty cream was so popular in Salford.....), potholes (don't get me started..), broken glass, gormless school kids....etc. After 7 years of this I have had enough but the alternatives are even worse: Northern Rail or the M61.

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby David9694 » 20 Sep 2019, 10:00pm

Worst for geographic obstacles is the Gloucester/ Cheltenham near-conurbation. That constitutes the first one and the gap between them is traversed by motorways and dual carriageways. Then the Cotswolds escarpment, the River Severn. All contribute to feeling pretty boxed-in, albeit there’s some nice countryside not far away.

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby Si » 21 Sep 2019, 1:03pm

DaveGos wrote:
Si wrote:Well, my nomination, back in 2011, was Telford. Funnily enough I went through there a couple of weeks back on a cycle tour. Don't know what it's like as a whole but I followed the Silkin way and NCN85. Have to say that it was very pleasant. Used a perfectly adequately surfaced old railway line to get out of the Severn Valley rather than the 1 in 7 that I used to use. Cycle paths (some shared, some segregated, but all perfectly fine to use) to get me right into the centre with little effort. Signs in a couple of places could have been better, although in one place the signs were right and opencyclemap was wrong IIRC. Also took me through a very nice park in the middle that I'd never got to by bike before.


I live on the edge of Telford just in the country . I dont think its the worst but its not good. It should be a lot better . Its a number of mining towns and one Market town combined into a new town . This means it had lots of old railway lines and canals suitable for conversion to cycling paths , some of this was done the best one being as mentioned the Silkin way , but very little in North Telford. There was quite a few cycle paths built with the original new town work , including underpasses but much of it is not maintained full of glass and brambles and not sign posted and not used. They had lots of opportunities to do a good job but did not , plenty of land, old lanes etc that could be used , but the original work was done in the 70s a time when the bike was forgotten . There are a few issues because its a bit hilly . The most annoying thing is they have done virtually nothing in recent years. They spent 10 million on a replacement footbridge to the railway station . It spans two 2 lane dual carriageways and is vital for cycling as the alternatives involve 3 lane traffic islands. Its worse for cycling than the bridge it replaces You are suppose to walk , there is no ramp down on the oneside that they use to have so you have to use a lift or steps . It does not join up to the closeby main cycle route . Thats with £10 m for a footbridge , and somehow it won awards. They have spent many millions on making the traffic roundabouts bigger , but that makes them very dangerous for cycling


is that the railway bridge that is actually on top of the station, the one with the glass (perspex?) sides? If so i may have been naughty boy as i must have missed the 'get off and walk' signs, although there was certainly a ramp on the station side as i didnt have to dismount at all.

My original nomination for telford was partly due to the Daniel Cadden incident where a cyclist was prosecuted for riding in primary/not using the cyclepath(which wasnt actually a cyclepath).

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby MikeF » 1 Oct 2019, 9:38pm

The utility cyclist wrote:London, end of conversation.
Define "London".
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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby The utility cyclist » 1 Oct 2019, 11:19pm

MikeF wrote:
The utility cyclist wrote:London, end of conversation.
Define "London".

ALL of it where there is motor traffic.

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby drossall » 2 Oct 2019, 8:37am

Vorpal wrote:A friend who lives in London came to visit me in Norway. She has asthma. She uses steroid inhalers every day in London and still has some symptoms. Whilst she was here, she did not use her inhaler once, and she did not have any symptoms. Not one. And we did some fairly aggressive hiking, up steep hills and things. Something she said she could not have managed in London air. That was about 4 years ago that she was here.

I've took Scouts cycling to youth hostels for a number of years. I remember once we had two brothers along. Their asthma did not cause any issue during the event, and their mother told me later that they had not needed inhalers for days afterwards. We live in a town, not a city, and she put it down to the deeper breathing, which may also have happened to your friend. I'm not an expert, but I believe that some forms of asthma can be helped by exercise (although for others the breathing may itself be an issue).

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby drossall » 2 Oct 2019, 8:46am

Sometimes it's the getting in or out of a town, as much as the riding there.

Whatever you think about riding in London, there aren't enough good ways in or out across the M25. Mostly you're either crossing roundabouts at motorway junctions, or at least using A roads. The minor roads were not always thought worth preserving as thoroughfares when the motorway was built, or are rat runs except in rare cases where bollards have been installed. There are quite a few exceptions of course, but never quite where you're trying to go. I know of one "cycle route" that uses a track and a culvert. In general, ring roads can sometimes be rings of steel (tarmac), and as good as fences.

Getting to places can be hard if the Strategic Roads Authority forgot all ideas of being Strategic when thinking about cycle routes. I've mentioned Norwich before, which is hard to get to from the south-west (and let's face it, that's where a lot of traffic will come from, given how wet it is riding from the opposite direction). They basically cut off the approach between Mildenhall and Thetford by dumping a dual carriageway on the only highway while, frustratingly, providing a cycle route that, for some reason, only goes half way. Manageable if you're touring and don't mind huge, wandering detours, but not much use if you're actually going somewhere.

So what about the places that are least accessible by bike or, conversely, where cyclists are trapped forever?

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby geocycle » 2 Oct 2019, 9:14am

Most cities that you don't know can be problematic. When you are confident on your route and the cycling routes they are often OK. Some of my worst cycling experiences have been in unexpected places like the Peak District, Lake District and Cornwall -all have that combination of lots of traffic,narrow yet fast roads,and hills. That said, these areas also have some great routes as well if you plan carefully.

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby drossall » 2 Oct 2019, 9:26am

Absolutely. I have nothing specific against cycle routes and cycle paths, and use them if they're the best route. But never, never in an unfamiliar area, because the planners probably assumed that you wanted to go to the nearest shops, schools or park, and will cheerfully dump you there with no obvious onward route, and certainly no indication of the way to the next town.

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby geocycle » 2 Oct 2019, 9:38am

drossall wrote:Absolutely. I have nothing specific against cycle routes and cycle paths, and use them if they're the best route. But never, never in an unfamiliar area, because the planners probably assumed that you wanted to go to the nearest shops, schools or park, and will cheerfully dump you there with no obvious onward route, and certainly no indication of the way to the next town.


Yes I agree. For example in many places using say a canal bank is fantastic, in another it can be a big mistake.

In London I find you have to be confident and assertive. I know a few routes from Euston across town that I am fine with, but if you dither you risk a collision with a vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian. That also applies when walking.

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Re: The worst place in the UK for cycling?

Postby mjr » 2 Oct 2019, 9:58am

drossall wrote:Getting to places can be hard if the Strategic Roads Authority forgot all ideas of being Strategic when thinking about cycle routes. I've mentioned Norwich before, which is hard to get to from the south-west (and let's face it, that's where a lot of traffic will come from, given how wet it is riding from the opposite direction). They basically cut off the approach between Mildenhall and Thetford by dumping a dual carriageway on the only highway while, frustratingly, providing a cycle route that, for some reason, only goes half way. Manageable if you're touring and don't mind huge, wandering detours, but not much use if you're actually going somewhere.

Be fair. Thetford is over 30miles from Norwich and basically connected by quietish lanes south of Wymondham (10miles out) and the Blue Pedalway the rest of the way - although to agree with your ring road point, the crossings of the southern bypass (now basically part of a third ring road) and outer ring are both tedious rubbish. 30miles out from London puts one somewhere north of Ware in mid Herts and I wish the cycle route was half as good as to Thetford!

Also, the policy-violating disconnection of Elveden-Mildenhall without a cycleway is a disgrace but adds 2 miles of fairly straight B road as the detour, not a long wandering one. That distance is obnoxious for short journeys but a bigger problem for touring is that the parallel route reached by the detour is sand and gravel, which is tedious.

So what about the places that are least accessible by bike or, conversely, where cyclists are trapped forever?

Now I find that difficult to assess. I've ridden in many places but not out of them in enough directions to tell. Usually there is some way across the ring roads but, as mentioned, not always good.
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