Design of Cycle Paths

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
PeterInCumbria
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Design of Cycle Paths

Postby PeterInCumbria » 14 Feb 2020, 4:36pm

The excellent purpose built cycle path network in West Cumbria has a potential flaw, it is too narrow for two bikes to pass without the risk of collision in some places.

The Highway Code states that there should be a gap between vehicles and our bike but the same gap does not seem to apply between two bikes travelling in opposite directions on a cycleway. I had an alarming near miss when someone on a racing bike travelling downhill hurtled towards me, he nearly in the middle of the track, me sauntering uphill also nearly in the middle of the track. The track has no centre line so what law covers whether we should ride on the left or right or centre? I suspect that his speed was at least 20 and maybe 30 mph, what speed limit applies on cycle tracks? If we had collided then would my Cycling UK insurance apportion equal liability or would the speeder, or the person not cycling on the left be held responsible (assuming that evidence was provided to support either argument)? I cannot see any comment or direction on these matters in the Highway Code.

Cycling UK officers are considering a comment. Perhaps readers could comment if they have experiences of cycle paths being too narrow for two bikes passing safely in opposite directions.

Peter Nicholson

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mjr
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Re: Design of Cycle Paths

Postby mjr » 14 Feb 2020, 4:49pm

PeterInCumbria wrote:The track has no centre line so what law covers whether we should ride on the left or right or centre?

Left, by the same law as on any other highway: Highways Act 1835 s78.

I suspect that his speed was at least 20 and maybe 30 mph, what speed limit applies on cycle tracks?

There is no speed limit, but riding dangerously fast is an offence even without any speed limit, same as motorists can commit an offence driving too fast for conditions even when below a limit.

The design speed for cycle tracks should be 20mph average but often isn't, same as I think the design width is 2.5m (should be 3m and suitable for use by emergency vehicles as a jam bypass IMO) but that's widely ignored. I'm in two minds whether there should be a centre line but it's not required by guidance (Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, Local Transport Note 2/08, London Cycle Design Standards or whatever) as far as I recall and is fairly rare.

If we had collided then would my Cycling UK insurance apportion equal liability or would the speeder, or the person not cycling on the left be held responsible (assuming that evidence was provided to support either argument)? I cannot see any comment or direction on these matters in the Highway Code.

I don't know for sure, but I would expect the one who failed to keep left would be mainly liable. You may be partly liable if you failed to stop when you realised a collision was likely.

The keep left thing should be in the Highway Code but I have not checked. The Code definitely tells you to act to avoid a collision if you can, no matter who is in the wrong.

Cycling UK officers are considering a comment. Perhaps readers could comment if they have experiences of cycle paths being too narrow for two bikes passing safely in opposite directions.

It happens. I've never hit an oncoming rider as a result, but a friend has hit one who refused to move to their left. No damage or injury, fortunately, but I think it was pretty close: the oncoming wrong-side rider laughed as they crashed and fortunately my friend didn't lash out at her...
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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mcshroom
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Joined: 30 Aug 2011, 12:00am

Re: Design of Cycle Paths

Postby mcshroom » 17 Feb 2020, 2:49pm

I'd be interested to know where this network actually is. The path you could probably get the most speed up on round here is the Whitehaven to Rowrah section of NCN71. That should be wide enough for two bikes to pass, if the undergrowth has been cut back to the edge of the tarmac which is normally not the case. There's sections like the new one out of Cockermouth to the A595 which I think should be wider (especially the 90 degree bend to take you into the housing estate, and the Seascale to Gosforth path (Viking Way) gets a bit narrow in places. Those are pretty flat though, so 30mph would be quite difficult.

I'd agree the person who didn't stay left would probably be deemed at fault, and speed might be a factor. In general, however, I would suggest it's better to avoid crashing in the first place, regardless of liability. Even with the C2Cers groups that fill the whole path at times, I've not had much reason to worry about collisions on any of the West Cumbrian paths.