Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Pete Owens
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby Pete Owens » 19 Jan 2019, 12:10am

The reason for banning cyclists (along with other slow vehicles such as tractors) is not safety, but to avoid slowing the flow of traffic. Motorways are our safest roads - so long as you were only riding from one junction to the next and not attempting to filter across slip roads it would in most cases be safer than alternative local roads. There are fewer conflicts, few junctions, wide lanes and good sight lines and the traffic on the inside lane of motorways (trucks limited to 56mph) is usually slower than you would encounter on other roads.

The purpose of motorways is to provide high speed long distance routes for motor vehicles (regardless of whether we might consider this a desirable objective). The authorities try to avoid local motor traffic using motorways for short stretches due to the disruption this causes at junctions. Also, the hard shoulders are not "spare" but have a function to ensure breakdowns to not obstruct the free flow of traffic and also access for emergency vehicles. When queues build up you will sometimes see a driver using the hard shoulder to get to a nearby junction. Harmless enough when there is only one of them - but if significant numbers made a habit of it then the hard shoulder would become unavailable for its principle function.

In any case motorways are unlikely to provide useful routes for cyclists - our journeys are inevitably local - typically shorter than the distance between junctions. And because motorways are intended for long distance travel they tend to bypass the destinations we are heading for. Indeed they do not serve destinations directly - they are an addition to the highway network rather than a replacement for it.

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Tigerbiten
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby Tigerbiten » 19 Jan 2019, 5:05am

If I was doing a short ride probably not.
If I was on a long tour and wanted to get somewhere fast then yes, but I'm not sure if I'd enjoy it due to the volume of traffic.
But it would be safer than some of the roads I've cycled on because I would be out of the traffic.

thirdcrank
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby thirdcrank » 19 Jan 2019, 8:34am

The boat which has been missed is dealing with traffic on roads near new motorways.

eg When the M62 was opened, it was assumed it would reduce traffic on the A650 but the opposite was the case. That lesson was ignored so when the M1 was extended to the A1(M) no attempt was made to protect the A642; when I asked about it at a consultation meeting it was a no-no.

As for the hard shoulder having a purpose, it's not seen that way by Highways England who covet what they see as dead space. For long enough, it was the police who wanted the hard shoulder (to enable fast attendance at collisions etc) so when the first so-called smart motorways were introduced, the hard shoulder was only used occasionally to ease congestion and in conjunction with a reduced speed limit. (IIRC that was largely justified on experience gained in the Netherlands.) More recently, HA has taken over duties the transport ministry had been paying the police to perform - operating control rooms and traffic management patrols - and more recent smart motorways use the former hard shoulder as a permanent running lane and with simpler roadside signals rather than gantries.

M62 three lanes + hardshoulder
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.72977 ... 312!8i6656


M1 four lanes
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.71754 ... 312!8i6656

rmurphy195
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby rmurphy195 » 21 Jan 2019, 5:33pm

No.

Put simply - the hard shoulder (or emergency lane) is a place to pull over into in case of emergency - vehicles doing so will be travelling at speed, and the presence of any vehicle on the hard shoulder inhibits this emergency manouvre. Also for the use of emergency vehicles traveling to the scene of an incident.

It simply isn't safe to be on it - breakdown operators have found this the hard way, its the reason why you will see their vehicles, when attending a broken-down vehicle, parked several yards behind the breakdown, at an angle with the steering turned to the left. This is so that if a vehicle drifts onto the hard shoulder it hits the parked breakdown van and shoves it off the road instead of into the mechanic!

Scares me on stretches of m'way where the hard shoulder has been removed - scared my friend even more when he suffered engine failure and had no hard shoulder to pullover onto - no power, could only steer and stop, nowhere to go - scary. Having to give clearance to a cyclist would mean his risking being stranded in one of the traffic lanes even if there had been a hard shoulder.
Scott Purgatory MTB, Brompton, Condor Heritage, creaky joints and grey hair
""You know you're getting old when it's easier to ride a bike than to get on and off it" - quote from observant jogger !

brynpoeth
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby brynpoeth » 21 Jan 2019, 5:40pm

Cycling ways beside motorways with parallel alignments, grade separation, would be great, separated and protected, I bet Boardman could set a new 25 record there
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott
We love safety cameras & STOP signs

Bmblbzzz
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby Bmblbzzz » 21 Jan 2019, 6:03pm

Where there is no hard shoulder or where the hard shoulder is sometimes used as a driving lane (smart motorways, managed motorways) clearly the idea is not possible. Places where cycling on hard shoulders is allowed, as in rural areas of Spain and some parts of USA, have much lower population density and correspondingly less traffic so presumably do not use the hard shoulder for driving.

Putting that to one side and going back a few posts to address the problem of emergency vehicles accessing incidents when there is no hard shoulder, one way would be to train and possibly mandate the German system (probably used in other countries too) whereby vehicles in the lane nearest the central reservation pull onto that and the others move to the side, thus freeing the width more or less equivalent to one lane. It's not going to be as good as an unobstructed hard shoulder but has the advantage that it works where there is no hard shoulder, on dual carriageways.

Grandad
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby Grandad » 21 Jan 2019, 11:07pm

Code: Select all

vehicles in the lane nearest the central reservation pull onto that

Wishful thinking for the UK where the central barriers are very close to the outside carriageway.

brynpoeth
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby brynpoeth » 22 Jan 2019, 3:53am

The lanes are much wider than even the widest vehicles, it is quite easy to clear a Rettungsgasse, rescue lane
It must be cleared inside the outside lane in a queue, as soon as traffic is crawling

Good news from Germany, there is talk about a maximum speed limit on Autobahnen, 130 kmh! The motoring minister thought the suggestion absolutely crazy :(
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott
We love safety cameras & STOP signs

Debs
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby Debs » 22 Jan 2019, 2:54pm

brynpoeth wrote:Good news from Germany, there is talk about a maximum speed limit on Autobahnen, 130 kmh! The motoring minister thought the suggestion absolutely crazy :(


"Wir fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn" 8)

thirdcrank
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby thirdcrank » 23 Jan 2019, 10:29am

Not much to do with cycling on a motorway but AIUI, one of the ideas behind smart motorways is that an obstruction in whatever lane, including a broken down vehicle, is quickly detected by the sophisticated electronic kit and then lane closure signals are activated immediately. This means that a driver experiencing a sudden mechanical problem in the overtaking lane isn't forced to try to get across a couple of lanes to reach the hard shoulder. The reality is that with all the tailgating, even easing off the speed can cause trouble and then a lot of drivers don't understand the lane signals or else ignore them. Also, in spite of all the CCTV, which should mean that control room staff know what's happening without having to wait for a report from a patrol at the scene, warning messages which don't match what drivers can see just brings the system into disrepute.

ThePinkOne
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby ThePinkOne » 25 Jan 2019, 10:38am

Bmblbzzz wrote:Where there is no hard shoulder or where the hard shoulder is sometimes used as a driving lane (smart motorways, managed motorways) clearly the idea is not possible. Places where cycling on hard shoulders is allowed, as in rural areas of Spain and some parts of USA, have much lower population density and correspondingly less traffic so presumably do not use the hard shoulder for driving.

Putting that to one side and going back a few posts to address the problem of emergency vehicles accessing incidents when there is no hard shoulder, one way would be to train and possibly mandate the German system (probably used in other countries too) whereby vehicles in the lane nearest the central reservation pull onto that and the others move to the side, thus freeing the width more or less equivalent to one lane. It's not going to be as good as an unobstructed hard shoulder but has the advantage that it works where there is no hard shoulder, on dual carriageways.


In practice, this happens already in UK. Coming back from client sites in East Midlands I regularly use the A46- that stretch with the nasty 3-lane section between the M69 and the M40. On both the 2-lane and 3-lane sections when they are chocker-block with traffic I have experienced the "blue lights coming from behind" thing, the traffic just shuffles across left and right and the emergency vehicles come down the middle.

TPO

ThePinkOne
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby ThePinkOne » 25 Jan 2019, 10:54am

thirdcrank wrote:The boat which has been missed is dealing with traffic on roads near new motorways.

eg When the M62 was opened, it was assumed it would reduce traffic on the A650 but the opposite was the case. That lesson was ignored so when the M1 was extended to the A1(M) no attempt was made to protect the A642; when I asked about it at a consultation meeting it was a no-no.

As for the hard shoulder having a purpose, it's not seen that way by Highways England who covet what they see as dead space. For long enough, it was the police who wanted the hard shoulder (to enable fast attendance at collisions etc) so when the first so-called smart motorways were introduced, the hard shoulder was only used occasionally to ease congestion and in conjunction with a reduced speed limit. (IIRC that was largely justified on experience gained in the Netherlands.) More recently, HA has taken over duties the transport ministry had been paying the police to perform - operating control rooms and traffic management patrols - and more recent smart motorways use the former hard shoulder as a permanent running lane and with simpler roadside signals rather than gantries.

M62 three lanes + hardshoulder
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.72977 ... 312!8i6656


M1 four lanes
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.71754 ... 312!8i6656


Yes, my least favourite work route (the A46) is another example of a road which links the M69/M40/M5 and so has become quasi-motorway in places, particularly in the area centred on Tollbar End.

The thing I notice is that because the planners of the 1950's were London-centric, the M-way network is predicated on linking London with the "provinces"- so there isn't much in the way of East-West routes and what there is tends to carry a lot of traffic as do alternative A-roads). The railways have a similar problem, with the Beeching axe getting rid of some valuable east-west links (including the Woodhead Tunnel).

The big A-roads are often much better for cycles in terms of gradient and route than the little minor roads, and TBH, with the risk of SUVs (have you seen the popularity of range rovers recently???!!!) the minor roads can be nasty on a bike too.

My "pipedream" is like what Brynpoeth suggests; it's a cycleway on each side of all A-roads and M-ways, on M-ways and big A-roads protected with a big concrete barrier of the sort used for the central reservation and properly wide, on other A-roads probably a metal barrier fence would be OK. If it meant getting rid of the M-way hard shoulder to build it, then I reckon it would be worth it- and the busy 3-lane A-roads show that a 3-lane road will work without it. (And modern cars break down way less than cars did when M-ways were designed in the 1950's). Maybe a blanket 60mph speed restriction on M-ways too? (Before people complain, I find that plodding along the M-way in the big work van at max 60mph loses me very little time to get me to where I'm going and fuel efficiency is MUCH better at 60mph than 70mph; of course I can only do 60mph on dual carriageway and 50mph on single carriageway anyhow- and I find that's plenty fast enough even on long journeys). That's a dream as I've pretty much stopped riding my trike due to the increased traffic around where I live- and the aggression of SUV drivers (the HGVs were never a problem funnily enough).

TPO

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CJ
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby CJ » 26 Jan 2019, 1:13pm

Of course no sensible cyclist really wants to ride on a motorway hard shoulder, but that the suggestion can even be made should focus our moral outrage upon all those general purpose roads that have gradually been 'improved' into VIRTUAL motorways - without providing anywhere else for slow traffic, not even a hard shoulder.

FACT: whichever way you count it, per head of population or per unit area, Britain has about HALF as much actual motorway mileage, or less, compared to any comparable European country. And we make up the difference by using far more of our general-purpose road network as VIRTUAL motorways. And whilst other countries, when they create a virtual motorway, either build it with hard shoulders for use by slow traffic (e.g. Spain typically does that) or build this virtual motorway on a new alignment whilst keeping the original road for slow traffic, or build a parallel service road for slow traffic, or at least a 3m-wide bicycle path (e.g. any of the cycle-friendly countries of Northern Europe), Britain does NONE of those things.

Britain expects slow traffic simply to vanish. And mostly it has. :cry:

And what is CUK doing about that? It's campaigning for us still to be allowed to ride on these virtual motorways! :roll:
Chris Juden
One lady owner, never raced or jumped.

ThePinkOne
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby ThePinkOne » 26 Jan 2019, 1:47pm

CJ wrote:Of course no sensible cyclist really wants to ride on a motorway hard shoulder, but that the suggestion can even be made should focus our moral outrage upon all those general purpose roads that have gradually been 'improved' into VIRTUAL motorways - without providing anywhere else for slow traffic, not even a hard shoulder.

FACT: whichever way you count it, per head of population or per unit area, Britain has about HALF as much actual motorway mileage, or less, compared to any comparable European country. And we make up the difference by using far more of our general-purpose road network as VIRTUAL motorways. And whilst other countries, when they create a virtual motorway, either build it with hard shoulders for use by slow traffic (e.g. Spain typically does that) or build this virtual motorway on a new alignment whilst keeping the original road for slow traffic, or build a parallel service road for slow traffic, or at least a 3m-wide bicycle path (e.g. any of the cycle-friendly countries of Northern Europe), Britain does NONE of those things.

Britain expects slow traffic simply to vanish. And mostly it has. :cry:

And what is CUK doing about that? It's campaigning for us still to be allowed to ride on these virtual motorways! :roll:


Totally agree- and I admit I had similar thoughts when I wrote the original post, but you've expressed it better than I could.

I really wouldn't dare cycling on any of these "pseudo M-ways" yet the PTB seem to think it's OK whilst simultaeneously preaching how "the hard shoulder is the most dangerous part of the M-way." Logically, if that is the case such that cyclists (and pedestrians) are not alowed to use M-way hard shoulder, then the lack of an alternative on/to the pseudo M-ways for cyclists and pedestrians is outrageous. Unlike M-ways, many of these pseudo M-way A-roads are on routes with few alternatives- maybe that's partly why they are not M-ways. OK, so there is now some decent cycle/pedestrian provision at Tollbar End on the A46, but I wouldn't fancy my chances riding the stretches of A46 either side of it.

TPO

Bmblbzzz
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Re: Should cyclists be allowed to use (some) M-way hard shoulders?

Postby Bmblbzzz » 26 Jan 2019, 1:59pm

That might be part of the reason they are not designated M-ways but there are others, which are directly related to the lack of provision: a road designated a motorway is much more expensive to build, in part because it has to have alternative provision for all the minor roads and footpaths and farm traffic it interrupts. It also means it can be built by "stealth", upgrading one section then another, then building a bypass, etc, all treated as individual sections so arousing less local reaction but linking up to form one continuous virtual motorway.

Another point is that most countries in Europe have a separate designation for these virtual motorways, such as Expressway, with separate regulations - similar to motorway but lower speed limit typically. These are marked by the green car silhouette sign, or similar, signifying no non-motor traffic, farm vehicles, etc, and a separate route is signed or built alongside. This sign is blue, some are green, depending on country:

Image