Just how good is the cycling infrastructure in Bracknell?

A visit to the Transport Research Laboratory on Friday gave me the opportunity to cycle through Bracknell, a New Town designated in 1949.

A gentleman named Pete Owens of Warrington Cycle Campaign (perhaps most famous for the Facility of the Month site) would have you believe that Bracknell – like many other New Towns – is, in effect, a small piece of the Netherlands, parachuted into Britain.

He argues –

For 50 years our planners have bought into the “build it and they will come” segregationist hypothesis. Ever since Stevenage, every new settlement in the country has been built around a segregated cycle network. And it is not just Stevenage and MK – though those are probably the most comprehensive examples, but we have a whole premier leagues worth of “baseball stadia” that have been unremitting failures in terms of encouraging cycling. Indeed they have tended to be the most car dependent towns in the country. They built it and they didn’t come … to Stevenage, to Milton Keynes, to Harlow, to Bracknell, to Hatfield, to Telford, to Livingston, to Warrington … the list goes on.

And it really doesn’t wash claiming that this somehow doesn’t count because these were “botched”. They may not quite be up to the standard of the best examples from the NL (although in the ’70s the Dutch took our new-town planning guidelines as their model), but they certainly meet the central requirement that the segregationists claim is stopping people cycling ie people in these towns do not need to mix with busy traffic. [My emphasis]

The broad thrust of this thesis is that we have already tried the Dutch approach in Britain – specifically, segregation – and that it has failed to bring about mass cycling. Instead, so he argues, we should look instead to places in Britain that eschew cycle tracks – places like Hackney, among others – for how to increase cycling levels.

… it is the constraint on motor vehicles (or lack of it) that is the key to getting folk cycling and that building cycle paths (or not) is entirely irrelevent. This is why mainstream cyclists organisations have been making all along and why limiting traffic volumes and speeds (as they do in NL) are at the top of the hierarchy of measures and cycle specific infrastructure as a last resort.

It is notable that those places in the UK that do have some success at encouraging cycling are those that follow this approach and have reputations as anti-car towns. Hull – with the early take up of widespread traffic calming (though they are now slipping), Oxford – which actively discourages through traffic, Central London – with the congestion charge – and particularly Hackney (the only traffic authority in the country where more people cycle to work than drive) where they explicitly reject the segregationist approach.

Regardless of the relative degrees of success of these two different approaches (not something I wish to get bogged down with here), I have to say that Pete Owens gets it very wrong – astoundingly wrong – when he writes that places like Bracknell are ‘not quite up to the standard of the best examples from the NL’. In reality Bracknell is far, far below the standard of even the very worst Dutch cycling infrastructure.

There are, of course, cycling underpasses in Bracknell, that run under the large roundabouts. This means you can cycle across these roundabouts, without interacting with the heavy traffic on them.

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This is exactly the sort of thing the Dutch do at roundabouts carrying a similar volume of motor traffic (although to a much better standard) –

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So far, so good.

There are also some cycle tracks running around the town. In the main they seem to be some distance from the road network (indeed, if you were driving around Bracknell, you probably wouldn’t ever see a cycle track).

DSCN0057When these cycle tracks have to cross a major road, the solution seemed to be – just as at the large roundabouts – to put the track into an underpass. And in most cases, that means the cycle track has to slope down, then back up again. (You can see how the cycle track in the picture above undulates up and down – this is so the path to the left can pass under a road.)

DSCN0110And another example –DSCN0150

Note how the cycle track – looking quite tired – slopes down substantially into an underpass, while the roads remain flat and continuous.

Underpasses like this are actually rather rare in Dutch towns and cities, and are typically only employed when a very large junction, usually on the periphery, has to be negotiated. In Bracknell, however, I found myself constantly cycling up and down, through numerous underpasses, just to get around. The picture above is taken only a few hundred yards from the shopping precinct in the centre of town. A flat town has been converted into a  hilly one.

Indeed, it was while musing about the large number of underpasses in Bracknell – and why they are so rare in Dutch towns and cities – that I realised why cycling in New Towns was always going to be doomed. And why, despite claims to the contrary from the likes of Pete Owens – they bear absolutely no resemblance to the Dutch approach.

The only form of ‘segregation’ available to their designers, back in the 1950s and 60s, was precisely of this form – placing roads and cycle tracks on different levels. A kind of vertical segregation, that the Dutch employ only when they have to (crossing railways, for instance) or when the volume of motor traffic necessitates it.

By contrast, where cycling is designed (or ‘designed’) at the same level as a particular road or street, Bracknell is just as pitiful as most other towns and cities in Britain.

Where cycle tracks meet distributor roads on the same level, they just give up. They end. Proper provision ceases if you want to cycle along this road.

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Indeed, I was struck by the complete absence of cycle tracks alongside all but the most major roads I encountered, despite copious amounts of space being available (this is a New Town, remember).

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These are not attractive places to ride a bike.DSCN0132

And these roads – which connect cul-de-sacs to the main road network – often do not even have pavements, let alone cycle tracks.DSCN0119

Where cycling ‘infrastructure’ does exist directly alongside roads in Bracknell, in almost all cases I saw it took the form of a shared use pavement.

DSCN0064 DSCN0073 DSCN0079

These have all the horrible design flaws you would expect at junctions.

DSCN0149 DSCN0141 DSCN0140 DSCN0125 DSCN0103

 

DSCN0067As I have already said, where cycling infrastructure in Bracknell exists at road level, and directly intersects with the motor vehicle network (rather than being placed below it, or far away from it), it is pitiful, with very few exceptions. I did come across this nice junction treatment, but it is a two-way track, shared with pedestrians, and rather over-engineered for the entrance to a cul-de-sac.

IMG_2551

The cul-de-sacs themselves – which should theoretically prioritise cycling, by making driving more indirect – are themselves a problem. In many cases, they are impermeable to cycling; they don’t form through-routes, so the most obvious route is the distributor road, which usually doesn’t have any provision at all, beyond a shared use pavement.

DSCN0126

Other cul-de-sacs do have access through them onto the cycle track behind, but it’s not particularly obvious.

DSCN0080On the right. Behind the wall. Then around the fence.

Typically, in trying to find the most direct route, you will find yourself bumping along a bit of tarmac, unsure of whether you are on a cycle track, a shared use route, or a footpath, until it becomes clear that it’s the latter.

DSCN0116

The ambiguity of these (foot?)paths is obviously problematic, with people apparently cycling in places that were not designed for cycling. Guardrail provides a clue to difficulties or collisions that might have occurred in the past.

DSCN0121

And in Bracknell the rule when it comes to guardrail seems to be ‘too much is never enough’.

IMG_2550 IMG_2555

IMG_2541

The pedestrianised centre of Bracknell is enclosed by two concentric rings of road, neither of which have any provision for cycling on them. The outer one looks like this –

IMG_2570

And the inner one – ‘The Ring’, which resembles a race track – looks like this –
IMG_2571

Did someone say ‘Dutch’?

The final irony is that in ‘cycling friendly’ Bracknell cycling is not permitted at any time in the shopping precinct at its centre (although a van was driving through while I took this picture).

DSCN0146

It is a sick joke to pretend that Bracknell – or indeed any other New Town that put in similar ‘infrastructure’ to a greater or lesser extent – is anything like a Dutch town, transplanted to the UK. At the time these places were built, there was only a very limited kind of ‘segregation’ on offer, the kind that places cycling far away from roads, either vertically or horizontally, and that has little or nothing to offer whenever cycling provision has to come into close contact with the road network. Given the way cycling was designed for, the only way in which cycling in New Towns could ever have been a comfortable or viable experience would for it have to been placed entirely on a different level from the road network, which would have been monstrous, as well as impractical.

This shouldn’t really be news; as long ago as 1978 Mike Hudson’s Bicycle Planning Book described how the cycling network in a number of New Towns, including Bracknell, was ‘incoherent and incomplete, and often inconsistent’. (Hudson also states that ‘cycle tracks are absent from Hatfield and Warrington’, which contradicts Pete Owens’ claim that they ‘built it’ in these two towns). That incoherence and inconsistency must surely be a direct consequence of the failure to design cycling in – with both objective and subjective safety – at ground level, and across the entirety of the town, not just the provision of underpasses at the biggest roundabouts.

It would be a little unfair to blame the original designers for these problems. In a way, the networks they built did partly function in the way a Dutch cycle network functions today, in terms of insulating anyone cycling from interactions with motor traffic. This is because, back in the 1960s, there was not the volume of motor traffic there is today. Cycling around on the distributor roads (the ones that have horrible shared use pavements today) would most likely have been fairly pleasant and traffic-free, in much the same way you can cycle around Dutch towns and have very few direct interactions with motor traffic. And in the places where motor traffic would have been substantially heavy and off-putting in these New Towns – at the large roundabouts and alongside the dual carriageways – the cycle tracks (albeit limited and circuitous) were usually provided.

But this kind of separation was fragile, and could never last, because it relied upon people not adopting the car as a mode of transport. As increasing numbers of people began to own cars, so the distributor roads would have become less and less subjectively safe, and less pleasant to use by bike. Over time, these roads have been converted to ‘provide’ for cycling, but only by the apparent legalising of cycling on existing pavements. Modern Dutch-style measures to separate cyclists from motor traffic are almost entirely absent. To that extent Bracknell is essentially no different from any other town in Britain, and not in any way an example of how segregation has failed, or will fail, in this country.

This entry was posted in Bracknell, Infrastructure, Subjective safety, The Netherlands, Town planning. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Just how good is the cycling infrastructure in Bracknell?

  1. Arthur says:

    I agree with this post but is it really useful to personalise it to Mr Owens? I ask because this approach usually just antagonises people, whereas a more general tone, attacking the scheme without attacking a specific person is more conciliatory and often gets better results. I am also a little surprised that you did not draw attention to the joined up aspect of cycling in the Netherlands versus in the UK. Maybe these few brave new towns thought they were going Dutch but doing so on their own is almost entirely pointless, especially as they were designed as commuter towns and thus the links to other places were almost of more importance than the towns themselves. How good were those link roads for cycle infrastructure? I suspect, not great.

    • To be clear, Pete Owens has, as far as I am aware, nothing to do with Bracknell.

      He has the notion that Bracknell is a ‘Dutch-style’ town; it’s that specific idea of his I’m criticising.

  2. I think it’s important to address Mr Owen’s hypothesis that it’s not the infrastructure, but the culture. Clearly he’s wrong. The “culture” in the Netherlands is that the local authorities see cycles as vehicles that need provision everywhere and that they are constantly aware of the fact that lorries can be lethal next to bikes. The “culture” in this country builds roads within places people live that don’t even include crossings and pavements, let alone cycle provision. The “culture” is unless you own a car, you can take your chance, so culturally, if you don’t have access to a car, you are an endangered species. How crazy is that?
    I’ve just spent a fortnight in Utrecht and having cycled every day in and around Utrecht with a cargo bike with two kids in it, I had plenty of opportunity to observe.
    1. I saw no HGVs, not one articulated lorry. Anywhere other than on the motorway. I was over taken once by a Luton size lorry on a road with a cycle path painted on it, but I had plenty of room. I was told by the locals that this is because the city has weight limits due to the age of the city and subsidence in places (surely our towns and cities have similar issues but they prefer to ignore it), but also that deliveries and lorries were limited to times of the day where there are virtually no people around; during the night and early morning.
    2. I took a while to adjust to the fact that at major junctions, if I pressed the cycle crossing button, the pedestrian lights didn’t change – they are separate. You have three separate systems for pedestrians, bikes and motor vehicles.
    3. Every junction seemed to have a different take on provision, the only thing that each junction seemed to have in common was wherever you needed to go, you could see your way as a cyclist (or pedestrian etc). It was very clear using the sharks teeth where I had priority and where the motor vehicle would have priority.
    4. About two thirds always stopped at lights and there were always a few numpties either in a hurry or generally feckless but they were far less of a liability on a bike than in a car, lets face it and we saw the odd near miss but never an actual prang.
    All in all “culture” is another word for the priorities set out by government and passed on to local authorities. Then it’s just the water you swim in, water the Dutch are extremely proud of.

  3. Great post. Clear and to the point, you demolish the idea that New Towns like Bracknell (or, indeed, Stevenage) can be constructively or truthfully labelled as ‘Dutch’.

  4. Warrington is similarly not there. There are the usual scraps, but the centre is prohibitively encirciled by a dual carriageway and junctions that make even walking there unpleasant and difficult and allow pretty much no cycling access. To claim Warrington has anything in common with the Netherlands is simply to admit you’ve never been to the Netherlands.

    Milton Keynes may also be dismal, but the margin infrastructure attracts double the national average modal share.

    These examples aren’t useful anyway because New Towns are so disimilar to normal UK cities in layout – what happens to large, congested cities when comprehensive connected infrastucture is introduced? Cycling rockets – Seville, Bogota, Berlin et al. It’s insane to claim “it’s the culture” when you look at these diverse examples mirroring the NL experience.

  5. Paul M says:

    I don’t have any experience of Bracknell, or of Stevenage, but I have tried MK’s cycle path network – unintentionally, and unplanned. My plan had been to take the train to Bletchley and cycle from there to a conference hotel some six miles away, but on arriving at Euston Station I found the while system in meltdown due to problems with the overhead power lines, so I took the first train I saw advertised, first stop Milton Keynes.

    Having planned my route from Bletchley, and having a map just for that route, I had to improvise from MK. My first try was to use the road system but after a few hundred yards I gave up on it through sheer confusion and terror, and went back to the station to get a taxi to my destination. Finding that the cash machine at the station was kaput, and I didn’t have enough for a taxi fare, necessity threw me back on my Brompton, and this time I managed to find my way across the railway tracks on a footbridge to a cycle path badged “NCN 4”.

    This lifted my spirits, as my route from Bletchley joined NCN 4 about 2 miles out and took me to within a half-mile of my destination, along a “restricted byway” (no motor vehicles). How hard could it be just to get on NCN 4 right there and ride?

    Quite hard, actually. The path was OK – not great, but serviceable, especially on a Brompton which is not really designed as a race machine. The problem was that it jiggled around a lot and the signing was crap. I lost track of it, briefly found myself on a dual carriageway, and fumbled my way through a housing estate using a brief glimpse of a “You are HERE” map poster and roadsigns to a hospital for navigation. Finally back on track.

    What I observed was much of what you say about Bracknell, about vertical segregation etc, mediocre though not truly awful paths, and that useless signage. The other thing I observed was that the roads system was not merely segregated from the cycle paths, it was completely and utterly separate following different tracks and while I can’t say that its routings were more circuitous – perhaps, perhaps not – it was designed and executed to make it easier to use (for motorists) than falling off a log.

    While Pete Owens, and Carlton Reid, and various others may all apparently disagree about why systems in new towns like Stevenage have not been as successful as hoped, why they were built but people didn’t come, one thing that somewhere underneath all the dispute they all seem to agree is that it is not enough to make cycling attractive in absolute terms, you have to make it relatively attractive, ie you have to make motoring relatively unattractive. Our new towns, built in the brave new world of mass car ownership aspirations in the 50s and 60s, did precisely the opposite.

    • “One thing that somewhere underneath all the dispute they all seem to agree is that it is not enough to make cycling attractive in absolute terms, you have to make it relatively attractive, ie you have to make motoring relatively unattractive.”

      Hmm. Depends what you mean whether I agree with that or not. David Hembrow would, I think, argue that the Dutch have not made driving all that unattractive, they’ve just made cycling more convenient than driving for many short journeys. In pre-existing urban environments definitely, maybe even also in centres of designed new-town environments, you can’t give cycling really good conditions without impacting somewhat on motoring possibilities anyway, so it may be a bit meaningless to claim it would be possible to do the “absolute” without the “relative”.

      I say this because I think it’s important to separate the “make cycling relatively more convenient” perspective from the “bash the motorist” perspective. The latter encompasses ideas like: make it impossible or expensive to park, charge them to use roads, don’t spend on roads to reduce congestion: ideas that most cycle campaigners have traditionally been very keen on, but which win them few non-cycling allies.

      What I’m getting at is that if we only put the positive case for excellent cycling conditions, that will be enough. You can’t do that, in the places that matter, those subject to dispute, without simultaneously making driving more circuitous, or slightly increasing inbuilt, as opposed to congestional, delays to drivers (but congestion itself may actually fall). Once the logic is followed through, cycling will indeed become relatively more attractive than making short journeys by car. But I think if we put stress on “doing down” the motoring experience to push people on to bikes, we’ll fail politically in a car-dominated society. That’s my real disagreement with people who argue like Carlton Reid.

      • davidhembrow says:

        I certainly agree. I’ve pointed out several times that The Netherlands is not anti-car. I’ve done so because to characterize the country as such would be dishonest. It’s not particularly expensive to own or use a car in The Netherlands and Dutch people like cars so they own plenty of them. The roads are wonderfully maintained and a joy to drive on (segregated cycle-paths combined with unravelling of driving routes from bicycle routes cuts both ways – it means that you mostly don’t have to concern yourself with bikes when you’re driving), many places have generous, inexpensive, often free of charge car parking and lots of people enjoy watching “Top Gear”. But despite all that the Dutch have the lowest use of motorized transport of any European nation.

        How did this happen ? Cycling is simply very attractive here.

        Actually, cycling is attractive to people everywhere. Just look what happens at any cycling event on closed roads. Thousands of people will magically appear even in cities which normally have hardly any cycling at all. That’s your pent-up demand for cycling. I used to have a job on which I drove around the country with a big van full of bikes which we’d let people try out on closed courses. There was never any problem encouraging people to ride the bikes. However, when I suggested to average members of the public who were riding our bikes and smiling that they should take to cycling to work in rush hour and the reaction was always the same. I may as well have told them to jump out of an aeroplane. Very few ever try it. Those who do quite often give up after the first unpleasant incident.

        Now that’s the difference between the UK and The Netherlands. These unpleasant incidents simply don’t happen to Dutch cyclists. It’s not because the drivers are any different, but because whatever stupid stuff that drivers might get up to, us cyclists are over here ……………… while ……………………… the drivers are somewhere over there. There’s plenty of bad driving in this country but when cycling you mostly don’t even notice it.

        Not only is it unnecessary for cars to have serious restrictions placed on them in order for cycling to be popular, it’s a serious own-goal for any cycling campaigner to campaign about restricting cars. The only source of new cyclists is people who currently do not cycle. Many of them are drivers. Many of those who do not drive are reliant for some of their journeys on someone who does. In trying to drum up support for anti-driving measures in order to increase cycling, you’re doing the equivalent of asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.

        The main thing that I know from personal experience about Warrington is that it’s only place that we ever took the van full of bikes and had no-one ride them at all. Truly bizarre. We were engaged by the council to visit a secondary school and the headmaster of the school refused to let the children come out and see us. Lots of noses against the windows, though. Some council employees accompanied us so they saw for themselves that the money they’d paid was wasted. A shame. I can’t claim to have stayed there long, this was a one day appointment. However we stayed there overnight and rode bikes to the pub in the evening, and it looked much like any other British town to me. Not similar at all to any Dutch town…

        • Eduardas Kriščiūnas says:

          David, sorry to say that, but your understanding of car use restrictions is very strange. Yes, in the Netherlands it is very easy and comfortable to ride a car OUTSIDE of towns. INSIDE towns everything changes. Even in such small cities as Assen, car drivers face with problems with finding car parking spots near destination. Yes, there are plenty of them, but not for commuters full day parking, because that will become pricey, and even forbidden to park longer than 2 hours on the street. If you go to visit someone not in your parking permit area, you have to find where to park on signed spot, which usually is not in the street next to entrance. Parking on street in not signed spots is permitted only for residents and for guests residents should take separate short term permit. Yes, it is cheap to have car for the resident, but to use this car in the city limits daily is not as comfortable as using bicycle. I’ve done my research and determined, that this resident and guest parking system is commonplace in all of the Netherlands. Yes, permit is cheap, but since cities have designated only fixed amount of parking places, to get parking permit it is common to wait in line for 2 years. In such places second car parking can be arranged only in private properties. Without permit you can park only in private car parks, in signed and not free parking places or in friends garage.
          In 2011 you promised article about parking policies, but it seems, that we should wait longer😉
          Directness and priorities at intersections inside cities in the Netherlands is also different for cars and bicycles. remember this traffic cells concept, when you should go in circles to get 100 metres by driving car: http://goo.gl/maps/I3fVD
          Talking about Bracknell city priorities are clear. Cyclists should give way every 50 metres to cars entering parking spots: http://goo.gl/maps/PNCUk
          Car oriented infrastructure fo 52 000 citizens is ENORMOUS. Such wide roads and big roundabouts we have in Vilnius with 500 000 citizens: http://goo.gl/maps/FpvmV

          Thank you for your effort, but as worlds most influential bicycle blogger you should work harder in explaining car usage patterns and sustainable safety concepts🙂

          • inge says:

            Are you sure you have read all David’s blogposts? I don’t understand what your complaint is. Do you mean that, as a car owner you should not have to walk a few meters but park there and then when and where you want to? Is this a rant against discrimination of those poor motorists? In most Dutch cities you can park at Transferia , big parking places just outside the city centre and take a bus every 6 minutes to the centre. Or, use a folding bike and ride that short distance. Livable cities an all that!

          • Andy K says:

            Indirect routes in cities? Hard and expensive to park in cities?

            Central London, much? This isn’t a problem because the local Dutch authorities HATE cars and LOVE bikes. When population densities get too high, there simply isn’t space for everybody to drive cars along any possible route and park right next to their destination. Bicycles take up so much less parking space, and take much less road space to provide for lots of simultaneous journeys than lanes of cars.

            The Highway Code explicitly states you should not cycle side-by-side along a road. But this is in fact the most efficient use of road space. On Dutch cycle tracks this is commonplace. Two or even three streams of cyclists side by side – in the same or less space than ONE car lane. The bikes are closer together end-to-end than cars too.

            Frequent sideroads are a safety problem for cyclists (left hooks, etc) and cause ratrunning problems. Lots of cars driving through hurt local communities – streets get noisy, children can’t safely play, walking is discouraged, local air quality suffers, the elderly, disabled and so on feel unable to cross the street and of course cycling doesn’t feel safe on a busy ratrun street.

            Where roads are not that wide (like in Groningen or Central London) blocking most side-streets to cars to make them take an indirect route is not an anti-car measure, it’s a pro-resident measure.

            There’s a benefit for motorists too: you get a much easier junction (e.g. traffic lights, or a mini-roundabout) onto the nearby main road than giving way to a constant stream of cars (imagine Inner London). With most sideroads eliminated, driving on the through routes is less stressful (no chance of vehicles pulling out in front of you). Of course, you don’t have to worry about overtaking bikes much in the Netherlands either.

            On the streets involved, all the cars driving through disappear, the street becomes quiet and pleasant again. People can walk and cycle easily. Children, disabled, the elderly etc can freely walk and play, rather than being squeezed out of their own street by the blight of the motor car.

  6. congokid says:

    I doubt if similarly grand or outlandish claims have ever been made for my nearest large town, Redditch. Here we have many of the same failings as Bracknell, including a one way ‘ring’ road round the central shopping mall that resembles a Formula One track, and ‘vertical segregation’, which at least would be something except that Redditch is already a very hilly town.

    Most of Redditch’s many sprawling housing developments include a network of paths that provide routes for pedestrians and potentially also for people on bikes, but they are generally very narrow, extremely steep in places, overgrown at this time of year and in autumn and winter slick with uncleared leaves. They also wind tortuously in and around housing developments and under major roads, but with no clear sightlines or signposting there is little to help anyone who does try to use them.

    I lived in one of these developments for a few months, near a cluster of large schools. I don’t remember ever seeing schoolkids making their way to school on bikes. In the nearby park, however, I saw notices aimed at parents requesting they drop their kids at the car park there rather than further add to the congestion each morning round the schools.

  7. Alex M says:

    I live in Bracknell and I love cycling, the comment about the town centre is not that it is anti cycling is just that the town centre can get very busy and pedestrians have been injured in the past by cyclist (especially kids and there off road bikes that don’t know the meaning of cycling with care), hence the ban on cycling in the town centre, as to the Van in your shot there are rare exceptions where a delivery / utility van or a vehicle which had to tow a trailer into position for events, which is allowed to drive into the pedestrian zone all be it at a very slow speed and this is not a common occurrence.

    I do wish there were more cycle routes but considering some towns and cities at least Bracknell does have some segregated routes, which keeps cyclists out of harms way near main roads and there are some shared cycle/pedestrian routes such as the road between Bracknell and Ascot.

  8. cliff says:

    What is the reason for the guardrails?
    How far apart are they?
    Is there room for a tandem or a bike trailer?
    Is this an example of a “bicycle friendly” policy
    that’s not too cyclist friendly?

  9. Giles Meaden says:

    I think the author of the original piece didn’t spend long enough in Bracknell to get the whole picture. I can’t blame him, it really is a sh*thole, but it’s one redeeming feature is it’s cycle network. The complaint about the split levels making a flat area hilly is invalid. We’re talking a up slope and a down slope ~ not the Pennines. There are a lot more and different types to those pictured too, loads of good track is secluded behind houses tucked out of view ~ it takes a lot of local knowledge to make good use of it all. I’ve lived here for seven years now and used the network for my daily commute and all local utility trips ~ compared to where I lived before, it’s brilliant in that respect. Way under used though! As the author said, it’s often invisible from the roads, so many people don’t even know it exists. The local authority seem to do very little to promote it which is a shame and a waste of a good facility.

  10. paulc says:

    There are similar problems in Gloucester. Cycle paths/tracks stopping for every side street, chicanes/barriers in cycle tracks that make if difficult for cyclists and impossible for those with trailers or tandems… and they wonder why we’re still using the road instead of the cycle path next to it…

    I know why they put the barriers and chicanes up, inconsiderate motorcycle/moped/scooter riders were using the cycle paths to cut through estates and the police couldn’t catch them… but it’s disgracefull that the bad behaviour of a small criminal contingent results in everybody else being penalised…

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