A little while ago there was some discussion on Twitter about cycling in Swindon. It started from a question asked by whoever was running the PeopleOfSwindon account that week, and we got onto the topic of Swindon’s cycle paths.
The following observation was made:
To which I replied:
and one of our local councillors asked more, and I replied that, to see what’s wrong with the new Wichelstowe road, he should hop on a bike and cycle it end-to-end. I then offered to take him on a guided tour.
What I actually did was go and record a video tour.
In this video, I’m slightly over-egging my reaction to the complexities and absurdities I encounter en-route. I’m playing the hammed-up cycle campaigner and come across as much grumpier and more confused than I probably really am.
And I willingly acknowledge that this path is incomplete and that it may all make sense once the rest of the Wichelstowe development is created.
BUT…I think that this road and the facilities it has for cyclists is typical of the UK’s cycle infrastructure in general:
- Cyclists are forced to stop and start frequently
- There’s no continuity of the journey – you are directed around everything else, rather than having your own route through
- The signposting is bad
- In some places things are over-engineered and highly confusing
This was a brand new road to a brand new housing estate that promised to ‘set new standards of urban design, sustainability and modal shift in transportation away from the private car.’
It represented an opportunity to do something bold, different, and challenging that would demonstrate real thought for cyclists. Instead it’s a broken, confused piece of infrastructure that hinders the cyclists progress to such an extent that it’s quicker and easier just to hop onto the road for most of it.
In fact, when reflecting on the tour, it seemed to me that to make cyclists cross the road, choose to share with buses or pedestrians, and then cross back again is the main cause of all the problems. Simply extending the existing path all the way along the northern side of the road would have been so much simpler.
So here it is…The Grumpy Cyclists guide to cycling the new Wichelstowe road.