Centre hatching

Mark1978
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Centre hatching

Postby Mark1978 » 29 Oct 2013, 3:50pm

What's the assembled panel's opinion on the centre hatching on main roads - the likes of here: http://goo.gl/maps/wQwU8

It's obvious why this exists, in order to keep opposing flows of traffic seperate, and possibly discourage overtaking too, but it occurs to me that it's a massive waste of road space, would it not be better to just have a standard white line down the middle and then extend the verge such that reasonable width cycle lanes are on each side?

At present a few cyclists do use this road, but because the traffic is so fast they/we end up cowering in the gutter on the left of the white line.

An example of how the layout could be is this: http://goo.gl/maps/V0EZo similar road width, different space allocation.

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ArMoRothair
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Re: Centre hatching

Postby ArMoRothair » 29 Oct 2013, 5:08pm

There is an increase in the use of central hatching like this.

From the motorists' perspective it is confusing because, as you point out, it is obviously done to discourage overtaking but so long as the lines are dashed (broken), not continuous, then crossing them is permissible.

I'm guessing it also has the affect of speeding the traffic up because there is a greater perception of safety (albeit false) given by a nice thick red central reservation.

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gaz
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Re: Centre hatching

Postby gaz » 29 Oct 2013, 6:37pm

Mark1978 wrote:At present a few cyclists do use this road, but because the traffic is so fast they/we end up cowering in the gutter on the left of the white line.

Cowering in the gutter facility.

The above road was two lanes each way, 60mph limit which resulted in head on collissions* between overtaking vehicles at 140mph+.

The scheme was implemented to separate the lanes of motor traffic whilst continuing to allow motor traffic to travel at excessive speed, now a 50 mph limit. The cycle lane is of no benefit to cyclists. IMO it is detrimental as it is woefully narrow (<1.0m) and encourages close overtakes. At this time of year it is also full of leaves, chestnuts and today is blocked by fallen trees.

If the scheme had been implemented without the traffic islands, a narrower central hatching, wider cycle lanes (>1.5m) and a 40mph limit it would probably form a regular part of my commute.

*poor choice of words, the road layout didn't result in the collissions, poor overtaking decisions and excessive speed resulted in the collissions.
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gaz
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Re: Centre hatching

Postby gaz » 29 Oct 2013, 6:48pm

Another interesting example here where the hatching protects the central reservation :roll: .
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honesty
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Re: Centre hatching

Postby honesty » 29 Oct 2013, 7:39pm

I was always taught that you shouldn't overtake using these areas...

The relevant part of the highway code is paragraph 130, which states:

"If the area is bordered by a broken white line, you should not enter the area unless it is necessary and you can see that it is safe to do so."

Is overtaking "necessary"? I'd probably argue not, then again its a woolly word and the relevant law is probably more specific.

snibgo
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Re: Centre hatching

Postby snibgo » 29 Oct 2013, 8:37pm

The central hatching in the OP is designed to discourage overtakers from moving to the other side, and provide a fast safe smooth flow for motorists.

In theory, the appropriate place to cycle is far enough from the kerb that overtakers are forced to move out. If there isn't much oncoming traffic, this should be okay. But if oncoming traffic is heavy, overtaking traffic will become frustrated and annoyed at cyclists.

It's a good example of a road designed for motorists, at the expense of everyone else.

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Re: Centre hatching

Postby cjchambers » 29 Oct 2013, 10:40pm

Without the wide shoulder and centre hatching, that road is easily wide enough to drive 'three abreast' - so I think the treatment is intended to stop people driving up the middle and to create some order. People can still overtake if they wish, of course . . . the view ahead along there is so good that (IMO) double white lines would be difficult to justify.

ArMoRothair wrote:I'm guessing it also has the affect of speeding the traffic up because there is a greater perception of safety (albeit false) given by a nice thick red central reservation.

On the contrary, I think the 'traffic planners' hope that reducing the perceived width of the lane will actually result in a reduction in speed. I'm sure I remember reading some results from an experiment which showed a progressive reduction in vehicle speeds as the lane was narrowed.

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CREPELLO
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Re: Centre hatching

Postby CREPELLO » 29 Oct 2013, 10:54pm

Mark1978 wrote:
An example of how the layout could be is this: http://goo.gl/maps/V0EZo similar road width, different space allocation.
Looks like a good use of white paint :D . But I see I'd have to go to Spain to cycle it:( . Is there any typical road like that in the UK?

This is my local main road, the A5 near the Welsh borders https://www.google.co.uk/maps?ll=52.848 ... 10.13,,0,0 - just 'orrible. It's wide enough that vehicles often overtake in the face of oncoming traffic. It should be wide enough to cycle on, but I simply don't feel comfortable with drivers lane discipline. They often drive nearer the edge because of the oncoming overtakers. Or they could be driving anywhere really, as you can see from the google view. If it could be given that Spanish road treatment, I would happily cycle it.

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Re: Centre hatching

Postby Pete Owens » 30 Oct 2013, 12:11am

Centre hatching can make things better or it can make things worse depending on the lane dimensions before and after the treatment. (the example in the OP looks like the latter).

To explain this we first need to consider what makes a good traffic lane width from a cycling perspective -

Ideally a traffic lane should be wide enough for motor traffic to overtake a cyclists with a comfortable margin without changing lanes. For a fast road with HGV traffic you would want at least 5m so if the road is wide enough then the best arrangement for cyclists is a simple centre line. As lanes become a bit narrower there is still room to overtake safely in the face of oncoming traffic by straddling the white line, but eventually you reach a point (about 4.25-4.5m) where there is insufficient room to overtake safely without changing lanes. Unfortunately some drivers will still attempt to squeeze past. So, if there isn't sufficient room for wide lanes then narrow lanes (and I mean very narrow < 2.8m) are preferable as it is obvious to even the dumbest driver that they need to overtake properly.
In summary:
Wide lanes (>4.5m and preferably >5m) are best.
Narrow lanes (<3m and preferably <2.8m)
Critical width lanes (3m-4.25m) are most intimidating and should be avoided.
Unfortunately standard British traffic lanes at 3.25m-3.65m fall in the middle of that range - almost as if they were deliberately optimised to make things unpleasant for cycling.

Now we come to how hatching can help.
If you start with a 7.3m wide road with with 3.65m wide lanes (a fairly common and unpleasant arrangement) - then a 1.5m wide hatched centre line would reduce the lanes to 2.9m. This is narrow enough that drivers realise they cannot overtake within the lane - and by using the hatched area they have effectively got a 4.4m lane to overtake even in the face of oncoming traffic.
This example shows a road that has been improved:
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=birchw ... 5,,0,13.62
though it would be better still if the hatching was wider and the lanes narrower. It is also important that the hatching is fairly light - rather than painted red as in the example in the OP.

To see how hatching can make things worse.
If you start off with a 10m wide road with 5m lanes where everyone has plenty of space then 3m wide hatching can push you into the critical zone with 3.5m lanes. Drivers are reluctant to change lanes if they think there is enough room to squeeze past so you end up with close passes.
This is my route to work:
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=birchw ... 8,,0,15.92
It used to be fine before they put in the hatching (if you zoom out you can see a normal centre line). Now I have to be very careful to ensure a good road position far enough out to force drivers to change lanes, but not so far that even when they use the hatching they are still too close.

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Re: Centre hatching

Postby Pete Owens » 30 Oct 2013, 1:00am

CREPELLO wrote:If it could be given that Spanish road treatment, I would happily cycle it.


To see how much worse cycle lanes make conditions take a look at:
http://www.warringtoncyclecampaign.co.u ... -lanes.pdf
Yes - the drivers adopt a more consistent position - the trouble is that it is consistently closer to any cyclist they are overtaking.

Of course the worst treatment of all is centre hatching AND cycle lanes

Mark1978
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Re: Centre hatching

Postby Mark1978 » 30 Oct 2013, 8:39am

CREPELLO wrote:
Mark1978 wrote:
An example of how the layout could be is this: http://goo.gl/maps/V0EZo similar road width, different space allocation.
Looks like a good use of white paint :D . But I see I'd have to go to Spain to cycle it:( . Is there any typical road like that in the UK?

This is my local main road, the A5 near the Welsh borders https://www.google.co.uk/maps?ll=52.848 ... 10.13,,0,0 - just 'orrible. It's wide enough that vehicles often overtake in the face of oncoming traffic. It should be wide enough to cycle on, but I simply don't feel comfortable with drivers lane discipline. They often drive nearer the edge because of the oncoming overtakers. Or they could be driving anywhere really, as you can see from the google view. If it could be given that Spanish road treatment, I would happily cycle it.


Yes; the A5 example is another one, even without centre hatching where the idea that roads are just not wide enough to permit cycling is proved to be bunkum.

byegad
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Re: Centre hatching

Postby byegad » 30 Oct 2013, 8:57am

The lines either side of the hatching are broken so a driver may overtake across it. Had the lines been solid you may not cross them. Durham CC or whoever is responsible for the road markings seem keen on them. And your right they narrow the lane and so encourage unsafe passing distances. However the inside lane markings do offer a modicum of a safe area for cyclists. These roads were a long time ago three lane roads with the centre lane as a head on alley for impatient drivers, hence the attempt to create an illusion of narrow lanes to encourage fewer silly overtakes.
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squeaker
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Re: Centre hatching

Postby squeaker » 30 Oct 2013, 9:53am

IME, these have helped locally (was single centre hatched) if for no other reason than they present more of a psychological barrier than a single dashed centre line, and thus discourage cavalier overtaking.
There is also the point that, not being used much, all the crap accumulates on the hatching, so if you do drive over it you can get the full rallycross gravel - or worse - experience :roll: Not sure if it's made things better for cyclists or not - I only use this route if the rural alternative on the west side of the valley is blocked.
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Mark1978
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Re: Centre hatching

Postby Mark1978 » 30 Oct 2013, 12:09pm

I must also point out that in my original example there is actually a shared use path alongside - although I'm not adversed to these sort of things on occasion this is one of the worst examples of a footway in bad repair being designated a cycle route by no other work than some signs. It's narrow, often dangerously so, and the surface is terrible, exceptionally bumpy, even on a full sus MTB you'd be thinking twice.

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simonineaston
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Re: Centre hatching

Postby simonineaston » 30 Oct 2013, 1:27pm

When you're turning right, it's sometimes the only thing between you and the arctic. / Audi TT / nutter in a Subaru, as in here, at the apex of the fast rising & sweeping bend on the A420.
PS no offence meant to sensible Subaru drivers etc.etc.
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