Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Petition on Cycle Lanes

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to pass legislation so that cyclists on cycle lanes accompanying main roads should not have to give way to traffic on joining minor roads.

Traffic on cycle lanes accompanying main roads are currently forced to give way to traffic joining the main road from a minor road, as well as the main road traffic turning into the minor road. On roads which are joined by many minor roads, cyclists are effectively forced to use the main road rather than the cycle lane in order not to waste time and endanger themselves at these nonsensical junctions. This negates the possible safety benefits of cycle lanes. We petition that cycle lanes should have the same rights of way as a lane of a main road, with traffic on joining minor roads forced to give way to both cyclists and vehicular traffic, thus making traveling on cycle lanes a safer (and quicker) method of transport.

If you would like to see a cycle lane accompanying a main road where cyclists are currently forced to give way to traffic joining the main road from a minor road, as well as the main road traffic turning into the minor road, have a ride along McMullen Road in Darlington where the fairly newly-created cycle lane forces cyclists to give way at every side road and car salesroom entrance.

I ride along McMullen Road once a fortnight and use the road rather than this cycle lane. While doing this, I can almost feel the car and truck drivers passing me muttering "use the effing cycle lane". I won't use the cycle lane. In it's current design, this cycle lane places me in more danger than being on the road whilst also enforcing drivers' attitudes that I shouldn't be on the road in the first place.

Sign the petition.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Meeing with Nick Wallis

Last Thursday we had a out second meeting with Councillor Nick Wallis and two council officers. As Nick blogs, there are lots of changes in store for cycling and we as a campaign feel that it is important that we have some input into these changes, so these meetings are really appreciated by us.

I won't go into details here just now, as I wouldn't want to misrepresent anything we discussed; Richard took notes but is away for a few days.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Cost of Free Car Parking

The Northern Echo today includes a story about Conservative proposals to have free disc parking within the town, and car park sale days. Nich Wallis has opposed these plans, pointing out the traffic congestion which would be caused by free parking, and the disincentive to use public transport if this went ahead. His own plans are for a third hour of free parking after paying for two.

Personally, I feel there's already a huge disincentive to use public transport. Car parking costs 80p an hour for short stay, or £3 for all day in a long stay car park. Bus travel from the edge of town to the town centre costs around £1.20 each way.

Even as a relatively car-light family, we used the car to get to the train station on Saturday. It cost us £3 to park for the whole day. Getting the bus would have cost us almost £5 for the two paying adults. If our children were a little older it would have cost us £7.20.

We're a family who will happily walk places, rather than using our car. (I cycle to work and my wife walks with my daughter to her nursery - the 1-year-old get pushed the 1.7 miles, while the three-year-old walks.) However, given the choice between paying almost double to take the bus, we choose to avoid the wait in the cold and the unpredictable bus service.

How likely is it that a car-committed family will choose to take the bus, walk or cycle into town to do their shopping, given the increased financial cost of doing so?

The argument given for keeping car parking costs low is that we have to compete with other shopping centres, but if a family are getting into their car to get to the Town Centre anyway, why not just pop along the A66 to Teesside Park or Middlebrough instead?

Encouraging non-car access to the Town Centre is surely the best way to ensure its long-term survival, rather than going further down the path of car-dependance.

What is the cost of free car parking?

Update: In my hasty look this morning, I couldn't find the story on the Northern Echo website, but in Nick Wallis' post about the Conservative parking proposals in Darlington, he links to The Northern Echo story Political gulf widens over town car parking policies.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I want a cargo bike!

The Bakfiets Cargobike - Living with the Dutch kid and cargo hauling workhorse in Portland, Oregon, USA.

And one with a power assist - "the rare but growing presence of a certain kind of Dutch workbike (Bakfiets) on the streets of Portland. Want a bike that seats five kids, with weather protection? No problemo."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I feel like a proper cyclist now

In all the years I've been cycling and the two years I've been commuting every day, I've never had abuse shouted at me by 'White Van Man'. I have now.

Coming down Yarm Road past the station, I took the correct line past the two traffic islands - there's not enough room to safely pass, so I moved to around 4 feet from the kerb. I heard an engine behind me as a vehicle slowed down before the first island and it stayed behind me through the second island.

Given how close it was I was surprised when it didn't overtake me straight away, instead it came alongside as I moved into the bus/bike lane and the three neanderthals onboard shouted abuse at me. Not very inventive language to be honest, but ending with what was either advice, "Move over next time", or a threat against my life, "I'll run you over next time". They then turned right into Borough road.

Nice people.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The future for Darlington?

Documentary about the use of bicycles in cities such as Copenhagen (Denmark), Amsterdam and Houten (Netherlands), and Bogotá (Colombia).

I've only watched the first few minutes so far, but this looks like a great vision for the future of transport in Darlington.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tom Harris MP, Minister for Transport visited the town

Tom Harris MP, Minister for Transport visited the town yesterday to review our progress as one of England's 7 Cycling Demonstration Towns. He was joined by Philip Darnton from Cycling England, the body which has overseen the initiative.

Nick Wallis took them on a tour to see the new College building, where they saw a model of the bridge which will be built over the railway on Haughton road, and to Heathfield Primary School, where cycling has really taken off.