King’s Road is one of the busiest roads in Horsham. A dead straight line from one of the main suburbs in the north, towards the centre of the town, cars commonly exceed the 30 mph limit. Traffic is particularly heavy at peak commuting hours, and also at school pick-up time – there’s a primary school here.
Fortunately, for the aspirant cyclist, there is some excellent, Dutch-style infrastructure – a wide, segregated cycle path, which allows anyone on a bike, young or old, nervous or confident, to navigate up and down this road safely and conveniently, without having to negotiate traffic, or worry about close passes from speeding vehicles.
Who am I kidding. No, it’s the usual crap.
Here’s the cycle lane, at the northern end of King’s Road. It’s about 80 cm wide, about half the recommended Department of Transport minimum. As you can see, people like to drive on it.
But look, there’s a nice shiny blue sign. This is a Cycle Route!
Further along, the lane gets worse. Much worse.
It takes you slap bang into the door zone, alongside a parking bay. Nice. This driver has helpfully folded in their mirror, which gives you an indication of the proximity of passing motor vehicles here. (You can also see, in the background, what a bicycle user makes of the road conditions here.)
A little further along, and the cycle lane has transformed, mysteriously, into a parking bay. You’ve no choice but to negotiate your way out into the traffic now. Although, frankly, that’s almost certainly the best place to be, given the standard of this cycle lane, and its tendency to position you right up against the kerb, or parked cars. Note the condition of this superior cycling facility here. You can feel the love with which it has been maintained –
Next, we encounter the primary school.
Despite the encouragement of a blue sign, you will not see children riding their bikes to this school along this road.
At the southern end of the King’s Road, we meet a busy gyratory. The solution here? Get on the pavement, you pesky cyclist.
Then try and get across to the other side of the road, without any assistance, at the point shown in the video below. This is hard.
As you can see, if traffic is not coming around the roundabout, traffic will be be emerging onto it from your right. Consequently, there are rarely any gaps in traffic (this video was taken on a less busy Sunday evening) and you will usually have to rely on someone being nice, seeing your predicament, and letting you cross first. I do not bother trying to cross here under normal circumstances.
How many people do you think are going to be minded to take up cycling because of this infrastructure, which is apparently good enough to merit inclusion on West Sussex County Council’s map* of Cycling Routes in Horsham?
I am almost certain the answer is ‘none at all.’
But don’t take my word for it. As has already been noted by a body no less august than West Sussex County Council itself,
The current provision of pedestrian and cycling facilities throughout the District, and in particular within Horsham, are not sufficient to support and maintain sustainable travel. This is because much of the network is disjointed and suffers from inadequate signing, safe crossing points and poor surfacing.
(See previous post here for details).
*It should be noted that, although this map suggests there is an ‘on-road’ cycle route on King’s Road, it neglects to mention that there is no provision at all northbound. This post has dealt entirely with the southbound ‘facility.’ I leave it up to the reader to decide whether it is better for cyclists than no provision at all.