Heading South from Sandbach one passes through the small settlements of Wheelock, Winterley, and Haslington, before arriving at Crewe. The road carries only local traffic, because two very expensive bypasses carry through traffic past the villages.
Perfect territory then for some good quality bike paths! I imagine the Bike Lane Makers setting out with optimism and enthusiasm as they painted therir way down Crewe Road:
A nice wide road, big detached houses with off-road parking, so no-one will stop on the cycle path. And buses only stop for a little while, so it doesn’t matter about the bus stop.
After a while they reached the narrower bit approaching Wheelock:
I imagine the conversation went something like this: “We have to paint SLOW here”….. “But the bike path line will go right between the the S and L of SLOW….” “Better end the bike path. It’ll be Okay, after all the traffic will slow down when they see the SLOW…” Alternatively, our painters may have just been beginners who had not yet passed Module 2 Dealing with Junctions.
A bit further on there was a different problem. They painted a lovely bike lane line but were told to go and remove it because vulnerable motorists were being forced too close to the island with bollards.
Erasing white lines isn’t that easy! Luckily further on there was a stretch that didn’t need any bike lanes at all, because it is the narrow dangerous bit where vehicles go too fast:
The key principle for building British Bike Lanes, which puts us so far ahead of other countries, is this: Only put them in safe wide roads. This means that we get much cheaper bike paths! We get more bang for our buck!
The Netherlands, wasteful as ever, would have dealt with this narrow section by putting in a single lane for traffic, and a wide bike path on either side, with priority for the bikes. Cars meeting head-to-head in the single lane would have to wait till a bike lane was empty before swerving into it to pass the oncoming vehicle. They would have to slow down rather than just ignoring the slow sign. Clearly the Dutch are decades behind us in recognising the need for free-flowing traffic. But don’t judge them too harshly, they have to deal with the awkward fact that thousands of Dutch children and old people persist in cycling around even though they could travel in cars.
Further on one gets to the big roundabout where the route crosses the A534 bypass. Here the bikes are very sensibly routed onto the pavement where they can cross like pedestrians, when there is a break in the steady stream of traffic.
After safely negotiating the roundabout, cyclists can seamlessly merge back into the flow of vehicles:
Soon one reaches Winterley Pool, where the bike lane had to be sacrificed to make room for some car parking:
Not long after, the bike lane inexplicably starts to fade, and then after a while wanders to the left to end, not with a bang but a whimper.
There are conflicting theories about what happened here:
* The painters knocked off and went home to watch Top Gear.
* Congleton Borough met its target mileage for bike lanes and gave the order to stop.
* The painters had a crisis of confidence in the value of their work and committed group hari-kiri with thir paintbrushes.
But do not be dismayed. More cycle paths will feature in future installments!