On diversion, again

This is a follow up to a recent post on being diverted while cycling, during road repairs.

Last week I encountered a similar diversion to the one described in that post – a country lane has been closed for repairs, with users of that lane being sent on a diversion, again on a busy A-road. Instead of the dual-carriageway A24, the diversion this time was on to the A272, which is no more attractive a prospect.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 13.40.20A little less busy than the A24, but probably more dangerous to cycle on, given the restricted width, an absence of a shoulder, and fairly heavy traffic levels. In fact, at this point – 18,000 vehicles a day, including 800 HGVs.

The (closed) country lane in question is Maplehurst/Nuthurst Lane, which connects these two small villages to the A272 to the south, and the A281 to the north.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 13.55.07Signs have been put out at the junction with the A272 (at the bottom of the map), informing users that the road is closed.


I ignored these signs, because I didn’t want to cycle for around 5 miles on single-carriageway A-roads.

IMG_6223Sure enough, as I came around the corner, I found that, while this road is not usable by motor traffic during the repairs, there was no real justification for closing this road for people walking and cycling.

IMG_6224A new crash barrier is being installed on a bend, but people walking and cycling can easily get past the vans and the workmen on the site.

So this is partly a plea to West Sussex County Council to think a little more about their diversion signs – if people on foot and on bike can easily get through a road closure, then that should made explicit on the temporary signs. Otherwise you will be sending a good number of people cycling onto dangerous roads, needlessly exposing them to heavy traffic.

And, of course, just as in the previous ‘diversion’ post, closures like this show how we should be thinking more clearly about the function of these country lanes, which should be closed to through traffic permanently, and not just for the period of roadworks. Residents should still be able to access their properties, but in this case there are, again, parallel A-roads which should be carrying any through traffic.

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17 Responses to On diversion, again

  1. Ian Wescombe says:

    Not just West Sussex Mark but certainly Kent CC could do the same. Last Weekend they had the road to Teston Bridge “closed” but I checked with the guy putting out cones and he said I’d get past okay. A car would not have passed the crew putting in double yellow lines on this narrow lane but I had no problem; and neither would have the rally of vintage solo motorcycles I passed checking their maps for an alternative route.

  2. canamsteve says:

    I agree, but of course Councils would then have to obtain a second type of sign and we would have to hope they would be used correctly. In general, I ignore such signs when cycling in rural areas. That is, I assume they mean “temporarily closed to motor vehicles” as it is extremely unlikely that a road will be closed to pedestrians. And a cyclist walking a bike is a pedestrian.

    I suppose there could be a bridge out, or some huge excavation across the road. These would usually be notified by a more-significant sign showing dates of closure (and advance warning). And even so, in rural areas, there is often an alternative bridleway or footpath (dismounted, of course) that can be used with less inconvenience than the suggested diversion.

  3. Even if one didn’t shift motor traffic from the road, wouldn’t it be cheaper & better to reduce the motor speed limit from 60mph than to install a crash barrier on a country lane? Will there be room for walkers behind the barrier or will they have to walk on the road on the inside of the bend?

  4. Mark Hewitt says:

    It’s my understanding, by no means accurate, that the ROAD CLOSED signs only legally apply to motor vehicles. I’ve certainly seen examples of where there has been a supplementary “Road Closed to Pedestrians and Cyclists” sign if the road really is completely blocked.

    Many times I’ve encountered Road Closed but gone through anyway and more times than not I can physically get through. But I can understand why workmen wouldn’t want cyclists weaving around them while they are trying to work.

  5. Gonçalo Peres says:

    Those are not “crashing barriers”. They really are “crashing barriers made exclusively for cars, and death traps for all other road users like pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists”.

  6. And this is why I always ignore road closed signs.

    • Paul says:

      so do I – they usually are ideal cycle routes (Traffic Reduction in action) but just occasionally you come across a complete blockage (eg under a bridge) usually at the bottom of a steep hill !

  7. Shocking to see crash barrier being installed on that country lane.

  8. gregoryiain says:

    Same now being installed throughout Loxley Valley Sheffield

  9. smsm1986 says:

    I’ve been told by council officials that all pedestrians and cyclists should just ignore road closed signs and continue through any if it’s safe to do so. Their response to adding an except pedestrians and cyclists, was where do you stop in the list of exceptions, cyclists, horse riders? Maybe adding the shared cycle/pedestrian sign could be a simple solution compared to lots of text?

    • Mark Williams says:

      Almost all Hovis Freewheel bike rides, etc. and play streets take place behind `ROAD CLOSED’ signs which are just a variant of the `SLOW WET TAR’ sign anyway. The real problem is trying to ape the USA in using textual signs everywhere which do not mean what they say in order to avoid confronting scofflaw motorists with straightforward prohibitions (or enforcing them).

      There are standard `no motor vehicles’, `no vehicles’, `no horsing’ and `no walking’ roundels in the Vienna convention. Simply affix them to a yellow background and you have a temporary sign which ought to be understood by all road users, including the illiterate and non-English speakers. I made a similar point in the consultation on proposals for the temporary `NO OVERTAKING CYCLISTS’ sign.

  10. Joe says:

    Astonishing to see a crash barrier being installed on a country lane to prevent speeding drivers from hitting what…? Bushes?
    And in the space that they have installed the barriers (at enormous expense – I know because I’ve specified them in the past on approaches to bridges) they could have put a much cheaper cycle lane.
    It just goes to show the level of stupidity you are up against.

  11. Paul M says:

    A short section of the lane I ride en route to the station is closed this week and next for cable laying works. It is only thanks to our local independent councillor, Nikki Barton, an active-travel advocate, that we know that the closure is only for 8 hours a day and only applies to motor vehicles.

  12. Notak says:

    I’d almost always assume there’s a way through on bike or foot. I don’t have much experience of horse riding so don’t know about that! Occasionally you have to wait for the workers to let you through, but that’s no big deal. As others have said, if it’s a bridge out or total closure, it’s usually advertised extensively in advance. That was certainly the case with the GWML bridge lifts last year (at least one of which was still passable on foot/bike).

  13. Notak says:

    As for the crash barrier, I assume it’s because of the steep slope. (Yes, it might be preferable in a long-term, holistic way to reduce speeds and even, being slightly callous, let fastards and drunkards roll.) It doesn’t look as if there’d be room to walk on that verge anyway, cos there isn’t really a verge.

  14. Mike Adams says:

    We were once confronted by a road worker as we pedalled carefully past his truck on a closed road. “I can’t let you ride through this area.” he said. Quick as a flash my mate replied, “It’s OK, we’re Special Branch, under cover.”
    The chap gave a conspiratorial wink and waved us through.

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