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Cycling - Daft Cycle Lanes - Benfleet
 

I was told about these by Azure from the Cycling Plus forum. I went and had a look and was amazed at what I found.

All these photos were taken between the bottom of Bread and Cheese hill and the junction of the A13 and A130. The path itself is Castle Point’s route number 8, which has remained in a state of incompletion since it was realised what a bad path was being constructed.

Update - May 2005 - I've found out that this cycle path is under review.



There's the path, how do I get there?My route today brought me north up the B1006 to the A13, where I was going to turn left onto the route. The first thing that struck me was just how devilishly difficult it was to get onto the path! Here in the first photo, if you look closely enough, you can see the path on the far side of the road. (Arrowed)

The trouble is it is a 40mph road here, with two lanes in each direction. The only way to cross it is to use the pedestrian crossing to get to the centre island, the next pedestrian crossing to get to the far pavement, then to walk along the pavement to the start of the cycle path.

Normally when I ride the A13 here I just stay on the carriageway. There is no problem with this, in fact the two lanes is an advantage since they allow vehicles to pass cyclists with very little problem. Today I used the crossing and it added FIVE minutes to my journey, and that’s not counting the slower speed I had to ride at once I was finally on the path.

 

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That's not that smoothEven if I did want to ride at a high speed on this path it wouldn’t be safe. This isn’t just because of the dirt and detritus all over the path (which doesn’t show very clearly in the photo) it’s because the path goes up and down at each and every drive.

 

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So it stops for the bus stop, where do I go? Now the signing of this area puzzled me. First I had a post which had two signs, one telling me I was on a segregated path, the other telling me that the cycle route ended. Then, slightly further down the road, the path stopped at a give way sign. After the bus stop it restarted.

What I couldn’t understand was why there was an end of route sign when it was obvious that the route simply continued after the bus stop. Also I wasn’t certain whether I was supposed to sit and wait at the give way until all pedestrian traffic had ceased (as I do with traffic at all other give way markings) or whether since the cycle route had ended I should be crossing back over the 4 lanes of traffic to get back onto the carriageway for those few yards…

I used my common sense and just walked for the short distance of pavement as I felt that the only safe and legal thing to do.

 

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Is this up to minimum width? The path here is one of the narrowest I have ever seen. It’ll be narrower when I come back the other way in a minute though…

According to the specifications I have here (from both the CTC and Sustrans), a cycle path should preferably be at least 1 metre wide, 0.75m as an absolute minimum. Now that’s a two way path painted there, does it look like 2 metres wide?

 

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Now that's what I call tight! Then the cycle path suddenly stopped. I used my common sense and turned left. I was rewarded with what must be one of the narrowest and tightest lanes ever.

As you can see in this photo my back wheel is on the edge line, my front wheel is on the centre line, and my pedal has hit the post! I'm glad I wasn't on the tandem, we'd never have got round the bend.

What is most frustrating is that this post is just the post that signs the cycle path!

Put a sign in the way, just in case the red paint wasn't obvious.From the other direction it is very clear that the signpost was put in for the sole purpose of this path. But what is stranger is the post after it in the hedge that both says this is a segregated path as well as the end of the cycle route…

Is the path just a few inches from the metal pole to the wooden post? I really cannot work out how this can be both the end of the cycle route as well as a segregated path.
A more sensible solution would have been to install the dropped kerb at the corner of the road, rather than the centre of the dead end, so that the lane on the pavement remained straight. Obviously a better place for that post could have been found!

 

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A path that finishes at a pedestrian crossing. Following the path around the corner I again found a typically strange sign. The blue sign clearly shows the pedestrians to the left of the cycle path, yet the markings on the ground have the pavement to the right of the cycle path.

The path then stopped at a pedestrian crossing. This dual carriageway is the borough boundary, no cycle facilities exist on the other side of the road! To remain legal the cyclist has to either get off and walk for a considerable distance, or rejoin the main carriageway and backtrack the way they came. For experienced cyclists this isn’t a problem (although they’d be in the road at that junction and nowhere near this farcility) but for the people that it has been designed for this farcility offers no assistance at all!

 

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It'll be overgrown in a couple of years. As you can see, it isn’t maintained either!

 

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Does the phrase 'get on the cycle path' apply here? So this time it stops for a crossing... I turned round to head back up the path at this point. I wanted to check out the section of the path to the east of the B1006. It wasn’t any better.




Although I suspect it was designed and signed by a different member of the highways department, they had just as little understanding as the first one of either signs or the needs of cyclists.

Here we have the same ending of the path to pass a crossing as we had earlier to get past that bus stop. The difference here though is that the signs are much more prominent.

Just look at the amount of lane markings and signposts that have been placed here, then look at the path. It is a standard pavement with no concession made to cyclists at all. If cyclists were to be expected to ride here they might as well just ride on all pavements; as that family is on the other side of the road. (We won't mention the illegal motorised scooter that's waiting to ride across the pedestrian crossing...)

 

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Is this an obstacle course? This section of path is unsigned, but was created at the time that the rest of the path was. On the left is the pavement which has always existed, on the right, where my bike is, this tarmac path replaced the grass verge.

As you can see it is very tricky to cycle on because of the sideways gradient and the undulating surface over each and every driveway.

 

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Is this an obstacle course? Those undulations are actually so bad that it is possible for the pedal of a bike to hit the ground as you cycle over them. My bike here isn’t leaning against the tree, it’s leaning on its own pedal!

 

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Is this an obstacle course? Further up the road the signs really are confusing. I’ve never seen these before as I am always in the middle of the road at this point overtaking the queue

As you can see all along this pavement are markings saying end of cycle path but there is nowhere for the cyclist to go; and the cyclist can see that the path continues anyway.

Is this an obstacle course? The post in front of my bike, that from this direction shows a shared use path, has this “No Pedestrians” sign on the other side. Are pedestrians supposed to walk up to the sign then turn around and walk back again? You can just make out in the photo that a second path exists to the left, which I suppose was intended for walking on; with this being a segregated path. In reality it is just a mess.

 

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