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Cycling - Daft Cycle Lanes - Southend - NCN 16
National Cycle Network, blocked again.
This is Sustrans NCN 16 along Southend seafront.

I have not yet ridden this route on a day when it was not blocked by excavations or similar obstructions.

It is my personal belief that this path isn't a cycle lane but an access point to the gas main; and as it is not under the road carriageway it is exempt from the time schedules that are allowed for blocking the carriageway with excavations.

What I find most frustrating about this path is that prior to its creation this was a safe on road route!
Please note the following "safety improvements", starting from the far right.
- Build outs from the kerb to reduce road space and ensure sufficient space to park cars (and remove usable road space when the bays are empty)
- Central bollard creating a narrow pinch point on both lanes
- High kerb (at least 10 to 20 cm for the entire length of the lane). This is of sufficient height to keep bikes in (and injure cyclists who swerve) but is not of sufficient height to keep cars out. I have witnessed one car swerve to avoid an obstruction and drive staight onto this cycle lane, fortunately without hitting anybody.
- Lane of insufficient width to allow two typical cyclists to pass safely without slowing to a crawl. Remembering that some cyclists, such as toddlers with stabilisers, need to be given greater space when passing them for their safety.
- Lack of any exit to enable the cyclist to exit the lane to get around the normal obstruction (today it is the monthly hole, often it is family groups and pedestrians)
- A signed diversionary route for pedestrians to walk around this hole, but nowhere for the cyclist to go (are supposed to go to the right of the keep right signs? Or are those for cars? Either way we can't get off the lane without dismounting and carrying the bike)
- The pavement is of its original width. I don't know if any locals can confirm this, but I seem to recall that the black tar repair running up the centre of the photo is the ORIGINAL kerb line of the road!

Update 31/3/06 National Cycle Network, blocked again.
While searching the internet recently I came across the Google maps and its sattellite photos. The one from Southend is interesting... it clearly shows that yet again the path is blocked, this time by a different excavation and three parked vehicles.

Update 20/5/08 National Cycle Network, blocked again.
I just re-visited this page, followed the link, and see that Google maps has been updated. The previous blockage has been cleared, but the images now show this one slightly further east. A friend counted the "repairs" to the path where these gas work excavations have taken place. Not including the patches to previous holes he claims there are over 50! And as I type this a colleague is bemoaning the path in my left ear, he attempted to ride it on Sunday but as usual it was obstructed by pedestrians, rollerbladers and oncoming cyclists; as well as slower cyclists he wanted to overtake but had no room to do so, and faster cyclists wishing to overtake himself. He no longer feels safe using the road due to an incident caused by a driver and the fact the council have dangerously narrowed the road to create this path.


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