Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Cyclists fear aggression from motorists as signs making clear they can ride in Cambridge bus lanes are erased . . .


Cyclists fear aggression from motorists as signs making clear they can ride in Cambridge bus lanes are erased

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Cycle signs are removed from bus lanes in Newmarket Road, Cambridge. May 2014. Picture: Twitter / @ThePeram

Cyclists fear they will face fresh aggression from motorists after signs making clear that they are allowed to ride along bus lanes in Cambridge were removed.

Large bicycle logos painted in bus lanes around the city are being erased to bring the routes into line with legislation allowing the start of enforcement with cameras later this year.

Cyclists are still permitted to use the lanes, and blue signs next to the road will remain – but campaigners and MP Julian Huppert fear it will give the impression that cyclists are banned.

In a letter to Cambridgeshire County Council, David Earl, from Cambridge Cycling Campaign, said: “Previous experience suggests that when some drivers receive incorrect messages about cyclists like this they punish cyclists.

“Some bus drivers in particular use their extremely large and heavy vehicles as weapons with which to intimidate and scare cyclists whom they think are in the wrong.

“The small blue signs will have no bearing on the outcome when it is the huge signage that has been altered explicitly.”

Mr Earl said the campaign “strongly supported” the use of cameras to catch motorists who drive or park in bus lanes, but said he also feared police officers would receive the message that cycling was no longer permitted in bus lanes and would stop riders.

The campaign called on the council to stop the erasing of bus lanes until the issue can be raised with the Government and for prominent signage to be erected making clear that cycling in bus lanes was permitted.

Dr Huppert said he was taking the issue up with the council.

He told the News: “We all want to see people being able to cycle safely and using the bus lanes, while not perfect, is safer than forcing cyclists to mix with car traffic, and is better than shared-use cycle paths, which create conflict with pedestrians.

“Changing the signs may, incorrectly, make people think cyclists are not allowed to use these lanes. This would be unhelpful for everyone, and I hope the county council can use signage that makes the rules clear to everyone.”

A council spokesman said one of the main reasons for introducing camera enforcement was to protect cyclists.

He said: “Although the council’s hands are tied by Department for Transport legislation on what can be painted on the road surface we are making it clear that the bus lanes are still for cyclists with appropriate accompanying and extra signage on the side of the road as used across the UK.

“National legislation is very clear that a cycle symbol on the road surface in the bus lane would indicate contraflow cycling and could lead to some riders believing they could cycle down it the wrong way.

“We have consulted with the local bus and taxi industry as well as the emergency services who understand that the lanes are still for cyclists as well. Officers are meeting with the cycling campaign to discuss the works this week.”

Bus lanes in Newmarket Road are being simplified as part of the £180,000 Government-funded project which will see motorists caught breaking the rules fined up to £60.

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