Dangerous Cycle Lanes

Following on from my post about the cyclist hit by someone opening their door without looking, I asked people to provide examples of cycle lanes that abutted parked cars, which not only encourage cyclists to ride in a dangerous position, but give drivers an incorrect notion of where cyclists ought to be.

I was completely inundated with responses. It seems this problem is widespread, with locations all over the UK and abroad where road designers have actually built cycle lanes that increase the danger posed to cyclists. The purpose of cycle lanes is too often seen as a way of removing cycles from being “in the way” of motor vehicles, rather than safely separating cyclists and motor vehicles to make it safer for cyclists. Designers need to build it right, or not build it at all.

We desperately need minimum design standards for cycle infrastructure, in the same way as we have design standards for “normal” roads, that local authorities are obliged to follow.

Here are a few of the examples I received.

Many thanks to the following twitter users:


And thanks to everyone else who responded. Sorry I couldn’t use them all, but this post was getting loser-length enough as it was!


The Door Zone

Most cyclists know to avoid the door zone; that area abutting parked cars where a door could be carelessly flung open into one’s path. And here is an excellent example as to why.

The driver did well to get on the brakes and avoid running over the cyclist. If I had been driving I would have hung back and not overtaken the cyclist until there was more room – don’t forget, cyclists can fall off for all sorts of reasons such as pot holes.

Official training and advice reinforces this.

However, there several instances of “official” cycle infrastructure that encourages you to ride in the door zone

Furthermore, it is also a common occurrence to receive abuse from some ignorant motorists for taking primary.

Do we need a public information film to explain to drivers that when we take primary position, it’s not to annoy drivers, but for our own safety and visibility?

Pinch Points

Pinch Points.

Pedestrian Havens

Build Outs

Pinch Point

Not enough room for a car to safely pass a bicycle.

Whatever you call them, if you are a cyclist, you probably hate them. They narrow the road, meaning there is not enough room for a car to safely overtake you.

That means that for your own safety, you need to get into primary position or else invite a dangerously close overtake. This brings its own issues, as some motorists cannot understand why a cyclist will “take the lane” like that and assume, wrongly, that they are doing so purely to annoy them. And we all know that an angry driver is a dangerous one.

Even when you do adopt a strong position, you sometimes get motorists dangerously forcing their way through when there simply isn’t the room to do so safely. Have a look at some of the close passes I have had through these pinch points.

On some of those my positioning could have been better, but drivers really need to be aware that they shouldn’t overtake through pinch points. It would not affect their journey time by more than a few seconds, if that, to simply wait behind until the cyclist is through the pinch point. I always make a point of waving my thanks at drivers who have patiently waited behind until clear of the pinch point.

I get that they are mainly designed for the benefit of pedestrians, but they are unsatisfactory for even that purpose, as pedestrians still often have to contend with fast moving traffic.

They are basically a failure of road designers to properly take the needs of vulnerable road users into account. They are awful, and in my opinion they should all be replaced with zebra crossings or pedestrian traffic light crossings.