Cut the Crap

22 September 2014

Look, I’ll make this simple.

A load of crap

We say “Don’t ride on the pavement! It’s dangerous!”


—and then we paint cycle paths on pavements.


We say “Don’t ride on the motorway! It’s dangerous!”


—and then we paint cycle paths on roads which are just as fast and just as busy, yet have less space.


We say “Don’t ride in the gutter! It’s dangerous!”


—and then we paint cycle paths in the gutter.


We say “Don’t get into HGVs’ blind spots! It’s dangerous!”

—and then we paint areas for cyclists that are the exact shape of HGV blindspots.


We say “Don’t pass large vehicles on the nearside! It’s dangerous!”


—and then we paint lanes that put cyclists up the nearsides of large vehicles.


We say “Don’t ride in the door zone! It’s dangerous!”


—and then we paint bike lanes in the door zone.


We say “Don’t change lane suddenly! It’s dangerous!”


—and then we build cycle lanes with abrupt endings and turns.


We say “Use a cycle path if it’s available!”


—and then we build cycle paths so tortuous, inconvenient, obstructed, abused, ill-considered, discontinuous, dangerous and plain stupid that they’re very often barely usable. 


Enough of this crap

With all this hypocrisy, whether in terms of giving advice or excusing unsafe or unhelpful infrastructure, is it any wonder that people appear not to heed the advice, or trust the reasoning, or use the infrastructure? Is it any wonder that in some cases people don’t even heed certain laws?

We build stuff that forces people into cycling in ways we say are dangerous, berating them for riding that way whilst berating them for not using the infrastructure, and we wonder why the problems haven’t been solved.

You can’t repeatedly build crap, repeatedly point out that it’s dangerous, and expect people to use it.

Is it so hard to understand?

If you build crap, you get crap safety and crap behaviour — no matter how much you implore people not to use the crap you’ve built.

You want to improve safety and compliance? Then cut the crap.



  1. Glenn Mealing 22 September 2014 10:43pm #

    Sums it up pretty well. I almost never use cycle lanes, but then I’m usually doing over 12mph (which is advised somewhere official, I seem to remember), and I’ll generally overtake buses, and stationary vehicles rather than undertake. Crap cycle lanes are worse than useless, as motorists think that if they are there you should use them, and if not then you deserve punishment.

    • kruidigmeisje 22 September 2014 11:14pm #

      Wow. Impressive!
      My body wil not let me do 12 mph.
      I am a scared wussy, and would not overtake busses.
      Does that mean I cannot cycle in GB?
      (I currently cycle ca. 10 Mm pr yr in NL, so I suppose experience cannot be the problem)

      • Paul M (@Suitonbike) 25 September 2014 12:02pm #

        I can probably manage a little more than 12mph at the moment, when I need to, but I am heading in your direction and yes, I thin kit probably does mean that I soon will not be able to ride a bike in GB, because the officially-approved approach to safety for cyclists is to wear a helmet, maintain phosphorescent visibility, occupy the middle of the lane, and ride at the speed of the motor traffic around you.

  2. Adam Trickett 22 September 2014 10:56pm #

    You have summed up in pictures plenty of my pet hates.

    Interestingly our Viking friends don’t do what we do and have a drastically “safer for everyone”, road system…

  3. Colette Cox 23 September 2014 9:49am #

    Great summary which all cyclists can relate to. I am so with you on this one.

  4. Kylie (@kylie_j_s) 23 September 2014 10:16am #

    It’s the same here in Australia. I wonder how nobody has found a way to make this a legal issue. If a doctor prescribed diabetes medication and a strict diet of sweets, well, you know what would happen when all their patients died. How long until the governments are accountable for the deaths they’ve caused?

  5. T.Foxglove 23 September 2014 10:33am #

    “and then we build cycle paths so tortuous, inconvenient, obstructed, abused, ill-considered, discontinuous, dangerous and plain stupid that they’re very often barely usable.”

    Yay, Durham!

    That picture is of a bus stop bypass as imagined by W.Heath Robinson.

  6. Steven Webster 23 September 2014 12:18pm #

    The best article about cycling on the roads I have every read. Sums up all the hypocrisy in one go.

  7. David Robjant (@bike3isavolvo) 23 September 2014 1:57pm #

    This post deserves a bookmark, for handy use against the hordes of councillors and council officers responsible for this folly.

  8. Rowan Goodfellow DeBonaire 23 September 2014 1:59pm #

    What more can I say, except what Steven just said above me! Shared far and shared wide.

  9. baoigheallain 24 September 2014 8:49am #

    Bez, your best post yet.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. On my morning ride there are a series of pinch points (brought about by unnecessarily large central islands) where the dashed paint invites cyclists to move to one side and encourages vehicles to squeeze past. Taking the lane is difficult because one has to flaunt the markings.

    In France they do the reverse: at pinch points the cycle markings are repeated umpteen times through primary; reminding drivers to expect bikes there.

    Here, we design the danger in.

    • paulc 25 September 2014 8:20am #

      You mean cr@p like this here which I face daily?

      bet they counted those few metres of paint in their totals for cycle lanes as well…

      • David 8 April 2016 12:07pm #

        Wow. That looks awful. Seems specifically designed to move the cyclists to the left and deliberately encourage larger vehicles to squeeze past at a point of maximum danger and minimum space. That’s mad!!!

  10. Sarah Higham 24 September 2014 7:20pm #

    Couldnt agree more! Manchesters cycle lanes are so very dangerous, I’ve come off my bike or been close to collisions because of gutters, pot holes, random pedestrains, cars on the cycle path, buses and taxi pushing me off the cycle lane and best of all nearly came off when the police stopped me on the cycle lane when busses were behind me (to tell me about how dangerous cycling is – really?) So well said…. reposted!

  11. Barry 24 September 2014 11:27pm #

    Exactly – excellent post spells out how crap transport thinking in the UK is.

  12. Liane 25 September 2014 10:13am #

    Great article very succinct, I teach bikeability & much of our first session is just getting the kids not to ride up the pavement, many look at us in horror when we say we will be cycling on roads as they have always been told that its too dangerous & when (if) they ride with parents its generally on the path! I have had this discussion in staff rooms where the teachers tell me they also cycle on the paths. Something needs to happen. much more education is needed the erratic coverage of schools (via 0hrs min wage coaches) is not enough.

  13. Christine Jones 25 September 2014 10:24pm #

    Yep, they make it as dangerous as they can, then get angry when only the brave and determined few do it.
    They have done a very effective job of banning cycling for most people.
    When 99% of the provision is solely designed for motor vehicles, is it any wonder cyclists choose to ignore it and do what’s safer for them?
    Give me a pin head on a bike rather than one in charge of a motor vehicle any day, and where I cycle in Holland, believe me there are plenty of both but thankfully we don’t have to share the main roads with the ones with motors.

  14. Matthew Hardy 26 September 2014 7:50am #

    All the more reason why we need to get behind the current proposals in Central London – which are pretty good – as the City is trying to stop them. If they don’t get built, we can pretty well kiss goodbye any decent cycle infra in this country.

  15. allthoughtswork 18 January 2015 9:18pm #

    In Portland, Oregon, they design and build roads wider to accommodate special bike lanes. The city keeps these lanes clean and in spectacular repair compared to most of the nation.

    And cyclists still ignore them and veer out into the roadway to get smacked or cause accidents. Then they complain about the haters. Because logic.

  16. renofailure 18 January 2015 10:40pm #

    This is the same situation in Seattle, WA, USA.

  17. malkiabektemba 18 January 2015 11:07pm #


  18. lawschoolissoover 19 January 2015 1:12am #

    Hear, hear! In New Haven, Connecticut, we have “sharrows,” which are an improvement over bike lanes, and we have some streets with marked bike lanes. Personally, I am an advocate for taking the lane when on the road. I sometimes use dedicated greenways/bike paths, but they seldom go where I want to go…

  19. An Imagination Asylum 19 January 2015 4:44am #

    As somebody who lives in Vancouver, an extremely prominent bike-friendly city, this hits pretty close to home! Great post.

  20. Jason 19 January 2015 6:37am #

    My favorite are the bike lanes that abruptly vanish. Are we supposed to just stop and wait for the rest to be painted?

  21. curiosetta 19 January 2015 10:39am #

    Cycle lanes are the way they are because

    1. The people responsible for them are not the ones using them

    2. The people responsible them are not paying for them (taxpayers are)

    3. The people responsible them are mostly interested in justifying their jobs rather than making cycling safer. They are only interested in ‘being seen to be addressing a problem’ rather than actually addressing a problem.

    4. Cyclists are not a significant voting block, and they do not pay road tax (which does not go to roads, but is still a valued source of income) and nor do cyclists buy petrol or expensive cars. Cycle lanes are designed to silence cyclists’ complaints (rather than actually benefit cyclists), and do it in a way that does not inconvenience motorists who are the ones with the most voting power and the ones who spend the most money.

    5. Most cities were build before cars, lorries and bicycles were invented.

    • Pascal van den Noort, Velo Mondial 19 January 2015 11:26am #

      Cycling is not glamorous enough yet, in the cities you are referring to. This results in a less adequate city hall approach: read and execute: Enabling Cycling Cities; Ingredients for success:

  22. johnberk 19 January 2015 10:55am #

    I believe you have nailed the problem of city infrastructure. Cyclists are too few to represent a successful lobbying group in order to advance their own interests – the only difference being the anarchist movement Critical Mass, which gain in its popularity. In my city, bike lanes are not sufficiently wide so it is impossible to stay on the path for the whole time. Also, there are parts which are highly unfriendly to cycling overall. What I believe should help us to plan better are the drones – they enable us to see where we should focus our efforts to improve cycling paths, and enable more people to enjoy riding a bike.

  23. Dre Elaine Eglin, Chiropraticienne, D.C., B.Sc., M.B.A. 19 January 2015 2:36pm #

    And there is a park on the edge of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City where you are not allowed to ride your bicycle or even walk beside your bicycle….

  24. sachinaravind 19 January 2015 3:37pm #

    We can generally don’t use cycles. It’s dangerous. :-p

    • sachinaravind 19 January 2015 3:47pm #


  25. firebrandnotes 19 January 2015 3:38pm #

    Mate, I reckon simply get a nice car but your wisdom here is indisputable!

  26. segmation 19 January 2015 3:40pm #

    Love this blog and topic. Thanks for making others more aware that there are 2 sides of the stories. One thing for sure when cycling you need to be aware of your environment. Perhaps with blogs like this, people will try to improve the cycling paths when building them so they are safe for all to use and enjoy wherever we live. I hope the designers of these paths, try them out as well and make sure they are safe for all.

  27. My Perfect Breakdown 19 January 2015 4:05pm #

    I love this post! The design of bike lanes drive me absolutely crazy. I live in a city where the transportation engineering and urban planners seem to believe that outside of the downtown core cyclists are second class infrastructure users based on the poor design on the cycle paths. There seems to be a real obsession with placing cyclists in the gutter right next to high speed traffic and having the cycling lanes abruptly end.

  28. thoughtfullyCRITICAL 19 January 2015 5:38pm #

    Here in London, Canada, we barely have any bike lanes. Our council has promised that all re-pavement jobs would add bike lanes, which has not happened.

    However, what’s clear is that most places around the world do share one common thread when it comes to cyclists: they just don’t give a crap. Hell, I’ve almost gotten hit by a police SUV (no light nor siren). Brilliant.

  29. PA 19 January 2015 6:01pm #

    Brilliant! Absolutely brillliant! Theres a general election coming up. How do I vote for you?

  30. Sparrowgrass 19 January 2015 6:08pm #

    We have a cycle path near us that was recently resurfaced … with deep loose stone chips. It looks nice, and mountain bikes can just about cope, but all the road bikers who used to use it have been forced back on the road!

    • Sparrowgrass 19 January 2015 6:12pm #

      Also got yelled at once by a pedestrian for cycling on the pavement … which was a cycle path with pedestrian + cycle sections clearly separated and marked. Did she think the little pictures of bicycles were there to make it look pretty?!

  31. Devin 19 January 2015 9:10pm #

    Makes sense. However, it would take so much time and money and extra traffic (grr…) to fix!

  32. awtytravels 19 January 2015 9:32pm #

    I wholeheartedly agree. I used to cycle to Heathrow up until last year and the cycle path along the A4 was drawn on the sidewalk, between the doorways of the houses and the kerb, right next to where cars park. I used it once and got immediately fed up by the low tree branches, the seemingly endless rattling caused by the trees’ roots lifting the tarmac and, obviously, the close encounters with people opening their cars’ doors without looking in the mirrors.
    Next day, I was taking my chances on the road.

  33. pezcita 21 January 2015 5:32am #

    I hear you on a lot of this. Where I live, (somewhat west of the greater Chicago area) there is a cycling path that actually crosses a busy road, right before the turn lane that leads to Wal-Mart. Small wonder I have never seen a cyclist using it! Fortunately, we do have some well-maintained country paths just west of that area and a riverfront path just to the east. We can’t have too many as this area was just made for cycling.

  34. MyTornHeart 21 January 2015 9:55am #

    Summed it all up pretty well. Hoping something gets changed eventually in future thought I doubt it will. If nothing else I hope this points out some things for the more inexperienced like myself.

  35. Anne 21 January 2015 11:37am #

    Seems like it’s the same in many parts of the world. Love the drains in my bike lane in Brisbane

  36. Luptuous Life 21 January 2015 11:52am #

    Lol, so much truth. It really is ridiculous and the reason I don’t bike everywhere. Well that and because it would take me forever to get anywhere at my current fitness level lol. But I love cycling and if the roads were safer for cyclists I’d definitely start using my bike for more than just cycling round the park.

  37. LifeLoofah 21 January 2015 3:42pm #

    Awesome post… there are so many reasons for bicycles not to follow the rules of the road in order to ensure safety, and yet we are criticized for riding unsafely in that case. So true that all these rules and lanes are created by people who don’t actually bike anywhere themselves.

  38. KaSonndra Leigh 22 January 2015 4:43pm #

    Never would’ve thought of these circumstances in this way, even though I’m always concerned about biker safety. Mentally I’ve seen the things in this list and wondered “what would happen if…” You tool the words out of my head and put them in a post. Well done. Thx for sharing.

  39. Kathy Simmons 22 January 2015 7:08pm #

    I live in a small town that does not have bike lanes and the shoulders of our roads are dangerously narrow. What happens is cyclists ending up driving closer to the middle of the road which causes frustration among drivers as they often don’t have room to pass cyclists safely. There is often a love hate among cyclists who feel they should have right of way and autos who too claim superiority. Old song by Roger Miller “King of the Road” comes to mind. Can’t we all get along?

  40. OneWaySwim 23 January 2015 8:07am #

    I cycle in London too, great post. It’s set in NYC, but anyone that didn’t see this Casey Neistat vid that makes a similar point check this out (it went viral a couple of years ago):

  41. Juanita Sumner 23 January 2015 3:43pm #

    When I’m out among the cars on my 56 year old Raleigh Superbe Ladies Roadster (I’m 55), I will fear no evil, for the bike lane is there to protect me. This magical painted stripe will allow no car to overtake me, as I am A GOOD PERSON.

    Just kidding, I fear for my life every day out there, and when I’m behind my husband on our Schwinn Twin, I think, “Dang it, I got to get our wills updated…”

    Thanks Kathy Simmons, for putting “king of the road” in my head – great song! I’ll be singing that while I’m skimming along on my bike (Old Myrt!) later this morning! Ain’t got no cigarettes!

  42. notneurotic 25 January 2015 7:46pm #

    This is why I prefer the sidewalk when riding a bicycle, but I know that even that is against the laws and regulations so now I just do not ride my bike.

  43. youregonnagofarkidjustyouwait 26 January 2015 8:02pm #

    They need to build them like in the Netherlands!

  44. The Bold Bluebonnet 26 January 2015 8:41pm #

    I live in a medium-sized town in the states and the bike lanes are around the universities. During the day the students use the bike lanes for parallel parking. Half the week the lanes are obstructed with people’s trash bins too. This is a great article about the realities of being a cyclist commuter. Glad to know I’m not alone in using the streets because the bike lanes are idiotic!

  45. Andy Morris 26 January 2015 9:53pm #

    Lets not buy the fairy tale that its all just fab in holland. Its the idea of keep out of the way cycle lanes that is flawed, not just its implementation in the UK.

  46. db4three 27 January 2015 10:23am #

    Haha this is so true. I have a bicycle here in japan where the streets are so narrow and I feel as if I am going to die every time I get on my bike. It’s crazy. Has anyone else had trouble biking the small streets of japan?

  47. Robert Beckett 28 January 2015 12:54pm #

    What is the advice on approaching advance stop boxes at lights . I get criticised whether I use the space next to the gutter , between the two lanes of traffic ,or on the outside of everything . If I can’t cycle past stationary cars to get to the front then the advance stop boxes are useless . Good blog , bookmarked for future reference . Thanks for any replies .

    • Bez 28 January 2015 1:05pm #

      Personally, I just behave exactly as if they aren’t there. The safest place, if you ask me, is to be in the middle of a lane, not filtering alongside or between columns of cars.

      Which isn’t to say I’m anti-filtering—I pass between 50 and 150 stationary cars every day by doing it—but I only do it when I’m pretty certain I can get back into primary position in my lane safely by the time the traffic starts moving.

      • Robert Beckett 28 January 2015 1:20pm #

        Thanks 🙂

  48. Dean Whitehorn artblogs 29 January 2015 3:51am #

    If I feel I’m in some drivers cross hairs i ride on the footpath but ultimately ride on dedicated cycle paths and linear parks. in South Australia it is a $45 fine if you are caught riding on a footpath which is cheap compared to getting taken out by a car!

  49. reshhossen 30 January 2015 12:14pm #

    My average speed is 13mph on my single speed. Sadly an idiot in a van thought a cycle lane was a good area to block and ignored me riding past him. This was in Scotland.

    A survey was passed and almost everyone who took that route, van drivers and all said the cycle path is wrong and it puts people in danger. They fixed it? Yeah they painted the lines bright yellow. Now more people are having accidents.

  50. hazelnootje 23 March 2015 6:12am #

    Thanks for letting me appreciate the luxury bike lanes in my home country…always knew we had nice lanes but only just now I see and realize how save and spacious they are, not many roads where you are ‘touching’ cars anymore…they are still rebuilding them.
    But now see me biking in Mexico city with my dutch bike! They are promoting biking here and they should, i notice the awfall smogg blankets every day, But how they disrespect bikes and pedestrians it is amazing; result; i only bike on pavements, which i think is really dangerous and anoying for pedestrns, but what can I do….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *