I am at a loss to explain the rationale behind the arrival of the posts separating the cycle lane in Valley Road from the traffic other than it was a quick and simply way of spending Government money (assigned to facilities for improving cycling after Covid-19).  

I am told by nervous cyclists, for whom these posts were installed to improve their confidence, that by using the cycle lane they now feel trapped, wobble a little to the left and touch the kerb, wobble a little to the right and clip the post with your pedal.

The psychological effect of reducing the width of the cycle lane makes it somewhat more difficult to avoid potholes, broken glass and other detritus.  The posts really do create the perception of a narrower cycle lane.

It is interesting to note that wherever vehicles and cyclists come together because of a lack of road space the new posts are nowhere to be seen, a pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road causes motorist to move towards the kerb (and the cycle lane to disappear).  

Where there is plenty of road space at roundabouts the new posts are prolific (Westerfield Road), where road space is less abundant (Rushmere Road roundabout) the cycle lane, and the new posts are notable by their absence.   In my opinion this has been an inappropriate expenditure when there is so much that could, and should have been done to improve cycling facilities in Ipswich.

Finally, and this has nothing directly to do with Ipswich, but it will equally apply here as elsewhere, a new Highway Code is in preparation and the major change is the very rationale behind the new edition:-

‘Those who can cause the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they pose to others’.  This creates a hierarchy of road users where motorists have a responsibility for the safety of cyclists, and cyclists have a responsibility for the safety of pedestrians.  

This last 'rule' is particularly pertinent when cyclists are sharing space with pedestrians (on shared pavements, footpaths and shared cycle paths) and suggests cyclists should slow to walking speed to pass pedestrians. (Rule 63).

A further piece of advice to be included is the 'Dutch Reach', a technique which causes car drivers to turn, look over their shoulder (or at the very least, look in their door mirror) and spot cyclists before opening their car door.  

Very simply the driver should open the driver’s door using their left hand, reaching across the steering wheel naturally turns the body towards the offside of the vehicle.  An action that makes glancing backwards logical and brings cyclists, particularly those in the blind spot, into view. 

As a regular cyclist I welcome the changes that improve road safety for vulnerable road users but I also welcome the responsibility placed on cyclists to respect those who feel threatened by their presence, by their speed or by the invasion of their space.

John Norman

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