More motorway ‘idiocy’

So another person cycling on a motorway has been stopped by the police.

The last time this happened – just a few weeks ago – Beyond the Kerb succinctly described the different types of ‘idiocy’ involved here.

I don’t for one moment condone the idiocy of venturing onto a motorway on a bicycle. And I suspect nor do you condone it. It’s insane. It’s incredibly dangerous. And it’s illegal, and in this case a fine was levied.

But nor do I for one moment condone the idiocy of highway engineering that directs people to behave in precisely the same manner (with about a quarter of the width of tarmac to cycle on and far fewer safety criteria for the road as a whole). Yet, most people do condone it. It’s insane. It’s incredibly dangerous. Yet it’s legal, and people get paid for it.

On the A3, just a few miles from where our first idiot had his collar felt, is engineering that designs in the exact behaviour he exhibited; behaviour that attracted widespread and vociferous criticism from the police, the media and an angry public. And this is far from an isolated example of such engineering.

The latest example of motorway cycling is even more delicious, in that the motorway the man was stopped on is, objectively, far less dangerous than the A-road he had previously been cycling on, which simply ‘becomes’ a motorway at Sunbury.

Where the A316 becomes the M3

Where the A316 becomes the M3

Lets take a look at these roads.

The A316. No shoulder. Legal to cycle here.

The A316. No shoulder. Legal to cycle here.

The M3. Cycling illegal here

The M3, effectively the same road. But with a shoulder. Illegal to cycle here

The chap was ‘surrounded’ by police vehicles and escorted from the motorway with a £50 fine.

The cyclist apparently joined the motorway after riding along the A316, but “didn’t think to stop and walk off,” as the police put it.

Well, quite. Given that the objective conditions on the M3 are superior to the A316, and  that the two are essentially the same road, I can see where he’s coming from.

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9 Responses to More motorway ‘idiocy’

  1. Joel C says:

    Fancy a game of “spot the difference”?

    Here’s the M8 J8 (Bargeddie) – totally 100% illegal to ride here:,-4.090727,3a,75y,106.82h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sSz4PCHDYBNb5defBpXaKnA!2e0

    …and now a couple of hundred metres up the SAME road, here’s the A8 – completely 100% legal to cycle on:,-4.083421,3a,75y,129.68h,86.09t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1skR-WD8Or3V8m21ZImwsstQ!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x48886e867875d743:0x509a63c3195307e

    … finally, here’s the bad old M8 J6 (Chapelhall) – 100% illegal to ride here again. Only an idiot could mistake it for the sleepy, safe old A8 a few metres west.,-3.936479,3a,75y,87.41h,93.72t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sUeRV7NZ0NjWyHUpgnxPgMw!2e0

  2. pm says:

    The depressing thing is, though, that I suspect its only a matter of time before the anomaly is ‘resolved’ by simply banning cycling on those A-roads.

    On the rare occasions I’ve ventured out of the city on the bike, Its always distressed me the extent to which routes which have, I think, been existent for centuries, have now been rendered almost unusable by anyone not in a car, as a result of decades of individual decisions by road builders/planners always on the assumption that only motorists exist/matter.

    On the other hand, I have used a few such A roads where there’s a wide, barrier-separated, footpath alongside that is categorised as ‘shared use’ but pretty much never sees a single pedestrian. Those are actually pretty good for cycling. In a just world all such major A-roads would have such provision (and why not motorways as well?)

    • platinum says:

      I don’t find it depressing at all to be ‘banned’ from using busy dangerous A-roads. In fact I can’t wait for the day, I’ll throw a parade. It is the de facto situation for 99.9% of the population right now anyway.

      The Dutch realised long ago it just isn’t safe, reasonable or acceptable for bikes to ‘share’ the same roads as vehicles going 60 or 70mph, and there are no Dutch cyclists calling to be allowed to use these roads. Perhaps if the Brits realised this too, there would be more impetus for change, for safe cycle paths in the countryside as well as the cities…

      • I won’t be upset either- but there will uproar from the time trialists, who insist on using them as race tracks

        • platinum says:

          Yeah, well there could be exceptions made for organised events, I don’t see anything wrong with that, just like we have exceptions that allow car rallying on the public roads under controlled conditions.

          There’s room for everyone. I certainly don’t want to be a fuddy-duddy spoiling people’s fun just because it’s not my personal cup of tea, but all I ask is for speed-freaks to reciprocate, or at least to not block and deny safe cycle facilities for people that are not such hardy he-men and want to have slower fun on a bike!

          Of course it’s also worth pointing out that well designed cycle paths =/= slow, the Dutch at the moment are very into building fast cross-country routes “snelfietsroutes”.

    • dave lambert says:

      They won’t ban cycling on these roads because it’s the only figleaf they have for their carcentric policies. They are required by law to make provision for access to non-motorised people and they point to these almost-motorways as the covering answer. Should cycling and walking be banned, they will have to make proper cyclepaths and footpaths.

  3. livinginabox says:

    More A3 madness here, adjacent to the off-slip from the Southbound carriageway towards Ripley and Ockham in Surrey. From Google maps the relevant markings are visible in satellite view and on Streetview. It is a de facto motorway (National speed-limit), and complete madness to cycle there. Although entirely legal. No dedicated cycle lane.
    I have cycled alongside the A3 between Cobham to Guildford and back, on a rather noisy, somewhat crap, unpleasant and piecemeal cycle way. It’s not very safe either.
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