Against shared use

One of the most baffling aspects of British cycling policy is the contrast between the periodic clampdowns on ‘pavement cycling’ (and the intolerance to this kind of activity in general) and the way cycling is actually designed for by most councils across the country – namely, with shared use footways, and shared paths.

Footway cycling is simultaneously something that people hate, and that the police expend resources on dealing with, while at exactly the same time councils are putting cycling on footways, and lumping cycling with walking on new paths, bridges and underpasses.

To take just one example – there are undoubtedly many – Reading’s cycling strategy has this to say.

… we recognise that cyclists have varying abilities and needs. As a result, we will consider providing off-carriageway facilities by officially re-designating a footway to permit cycling when there is a high proportion of inexperienced cyclists and children to cater for, and the alternative is a busy traffic distributor route or to improve route continuity.

What this really amounts to is a lack of willingness to design cycle-specific facilities that would be suitable for any user, whatever their abilities and needs. Shared use footways are the lazy, tick-box option; roads and streets already have footways alongside them, so just punting cycling onto the footway is an easy way of dealing with the problem of hostile roads that are too hostile to cycle on for the majority of the population.

This, of course, puts cycling into conflict with walking – which is annoying for pedestrians, and for people cycling, whether it is legal, or not, and which of course provokes the periodic ‘clampdowns’ on those stretches of footway where cycling isn’t legal. Meanwhile telling the difference between footways that allow cycling, and that don’t, is often rather difficult – this case is a typical example.

If we’re allowing cycling on some footways, it is completely incoherent that it should be illegal on identical footways a few hundred metres away, or even on the same stretch of footway. The incoherence exists because the footway is a convenient place to put cycling if you can’t be bothered to do a proper job where it gets difficult; blobs of footway cycling on an overall network of footways where cycling isn’t allowed are a natural result of a policy building ‘cycle routes’ that take the path of least resistance, from point A to point B. Councils are against footway cycling; except when it’s a convenient way of dealing with a problem.

Illegal here

Legal here

Legal here

Cycling and walking are different modes of transport, and should be catered for separately.  Indeed, as Brian Deegan of Transport for London has rightly said, we should be building ‘roads for bikes’ – an excellent way of capturing the broad design philosophy required.

Designed and marked like a road - but for cycles.

A ‘junction’ on Superhighway 5 in London, with a footway. Designed and marked like a road for motor vehicles would be – but for cycles.

When we drive around in motor vehicles, we don’t ever drive on footways (except to cross them to access private properties, or to cross in to minor side streets, in those rare places continuous footways exist). And precisely the same should be true for cycling. In the Netherlands you will never be cycling on a footway. You will cycling on roads for bikes, designed everywhere for this specific vehicular mode of transport.

A road for motor vehicles, with a road for cycles alongside it.

A road for motor vehicles, with a road for cycles alongside it.

Naturally where people are walking in significant numbers, a footway, separated from the cycleway in much the same way you would build a footway alongside a road – is provided. This limits conflict between these two modes of transport. People walking can travel at their own pace, not worrying about possibly coming into conflict with people travelling faster on bicycles.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 11.04.51 Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 11.08.25

Footways aren’t provided everywhere, of course. In places where very few people are walking – out in the countryside, for instance – it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to build them alongside a cycleway.
Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.54.06

People can walk on this ‘road’ for cycles; the volumes of people walking are low enough that conflict will not be a problem. Indeed, there is guidance in the Dutch CROW manual that states explicitly when footways should be provided. Above around 160-200 pedestrians per hour, per metre of width – which would mean, for instance, a 3m bi-directional cycleway like this one should have a footway for pedestrians if there are more than eight pedestrians, per minute, crossing a hypothetical perpendicular line across the cycleway.


By analogy, this is the same kind of situation as on a country lane, where we don’t build footways for pedestrians, because there aren’t very many of them to justify it, nor is motor traffic fast enough, or large enough in volume, to do so. This situation above amounts to a 3m ‘country lane’, used only by people cycling and walking – albeit one alongside a road for motor traffic.

This is a crucial distinction; the Dutch don’t cycle on ‘shared use footways’, but instead on roads for bikes, that people can walk on, where there wasn’t a need for a footway. This means that junctions are designed for cycling, not for walking, avoiding these kinds of ambiguous bodges you encounter on shared use footways in Britain.

A smooth and reasonably wide path - but look what happens at junctions.

A smooth and reasonably wide path – but what happens at junctions? Footway-style design.

Priorities clear with roads for bikes. (Notice how footway appears alongside 'cycle road' within town limits)

Priorities clear with roads for bikes. (Notice how footway appears alongside ‘cycle road’ within town limits)

Lumping cycling in with walking ducks these crucial issues of cycle-specific design. It’s easy to put cycling on footways, but it presents significant design and safety problems at junctions, as well as storing up trouble for the future – shared use footways are not a place where large numbers of people cycling will mix easily with walking. They are a ‘solution’ (if they are even that) only for the current low-cycling status quo.

This issue extends beyond footways to paths, bridges, routes and tunnels. If we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t combine walking and cycling on a busy 3-4m footway alongside a road – so it baffles me why we design the two modes together on brand new bridges and paths in areas that will have high footfall. The new shared bridge in Reading seems to me to be a recipe for conflict, especially if cycling levels increase.


‘Sharing’ in this kind of context makes cycling slow, and walking uncertain and less comfortable; precisely the same kind of difficulties we might expect on a shared use footway with equivalent numbers of pedestrians using it.

Problematically, some councils even see lumping walking and cycling together as a way of slowing cycling down. This effectively amounts to using pedestrians as mobile speed bumps, in much the same way people cycling are used as traffic calming on new road layouts with deliberately narrowed lanes, and it’s bad policy for much the same reasons. If you’re using humans to slow down other modes of transport, that means discomfort.

It’s far better for both modes to separate; to provide clear, dedicated space for walking and for cycling. That doesn’t mean dividing up inadequate space, of course, but providing adequate, separated, width for both parties. Two examples from Rotterdam, below – the first a small bridge on a path to a suburban hospital –

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 12.27.34

The second the main tunnel under the (enormous) Rotterdam Centraal train station.Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 12.28.09

In each case, conflict is removed – people walking can amble at their own pace, while people cycling have clear passage, travelling along with people moving at roughly the same speed as them.

Lumping cycling in with walking might be easy, and not require much thought, but it’s a bad solution for both modes of transport, and will become increasingly bad if cycling levels increase.

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73 Responses to Against shared use

  1. awjreynolds says:

    Reblogged this on CycleBath and commented:
    I cannot stress enough how important this is. Do not mix cycling and walking. Do not create shared use. IT DOES NOT WORK. The new Bath Quays Bridge falls fowl of this.

  2. Simon H says:

    I wonder if the UK tendency on bridge width for walking/cycling is due to both penny-pinching and a fear of criticism from drivers. Build a bridge wide enough to fit two motor traffic lanes on and it’ll look like you prioritising bikes/pedestrians over cars (even though in terms of weight capacity requirements a bike/foot bridge is considerably less than that of an equal width road bridge).

    • Paul Luton says:

      But we should ( NICE advice , and that is as authoritative as it gets) be prioritising walking/cycling in the cause of public health.

  3. I’ve started using the off-carriageway lanes around Vauxhall Cross now as they do offer protection from cars when turning onto the Bridge and on similarly when heading off towards South Lambeth Road they can avoid a set of pedestrian lights however in typical British Fashion they are quite narrow and expect the riders to yield at side roads AND the pedestrian crossing however another issue that presents itself is the tactile paving slabs that are required for sight impaired pedestrians as they provide rather sketchy grip when it’s wet as I nearly found out this morning as I somehow managed to control a front wheel skid and remain upright! The rider behind me said nearly every morning this week he’d had similar problems at that exact spot. Combine that with a lot of leaves that fall on the track if you want to use it from CS5 it certainly makes the shared use path much less appealing. I often find shared use paths aren’t well signed as to what parts are shared use etc.

    There was a brilliant sketch I saw once where a driver is arguing with a cyclist that he didn’t want to share the road with slow cyclist and that the cyclist should ride on the pavement but they didn’t want to share the pavement with slow pedestrians….the failure in logic was glaringly obvious 😀

  4. David Dawson says:

    When segregated routes are built apart from the odd few like the London picture above they are usually poorly designed. A new bi-directional cycle track has just been finished in Norwich (a complete waste of nearly £1 million of cycle city ambition money, but that’s another story) but its so poorly designed, shown in the video on this article: and photos here:
    During the video Cllr Bert Bremner says the track could be heavily marked with large signs but its an historic area. It wouldn’t need huge signs if it were designed correctly with a contrasting colour and smooth tarmac surface rather than just tiny bicycle symbols. People walk on it because it looks like the footpath. Why is it OK for the road to be black tarmac, be littered with traffic light poles and white lines and some pedestrian guard railing and yet the cycle track has to be an inappropriate surface and colour? Just another public realm scheme dressed up as benefiting cycling using cycling money.
    I think failed schemes like this also contribute towards the proliferation of shared use rubbish. They will see pedestrians using it and just therefore assume that segregation doesn’t work rather than putting it down to the design.

  5. Clive Durdle says:

    The picture of csh5 shows pedestrians giving way to cyclists and having to use dropped kerbs and pavement markers. Other examples (from Netherlands?) also do not seem to follow a road hierarchy with disabled people and pedestrians having priority.

    Is the problem a failure to consciously think in detail about what happens where, and what assumptions of priority are being assumed?

    • someonesomewhere says:

      I do not understand your objection. For instance disabled people may drive an electric scootmobiel which has a 25 km/h speed limit and can drive on the cycle path and have to follow the same rules as an ordinary cyclist. They may also ride in a wheelchair on the pavement in which case they have to follow the same rules as pedestrians. In general in the Netherlands traffic going straight ahead has priority over traffic taking a turn or traffic from the right has priority. If there is a zebra then a pedestrian who wants to cross has priority.

      • Clive Durdle says:

        In Britain there are two types of mobility scooters – four mile an hour that may only be used on footpaths – NOT – cycle paths – and 8mph that may be used on roads. We have in UK an unresolved conflict between older highways rules and Equality law.

        There is a second issue about why pedestrians give way AT ALL. Logically the rule of the sea and equivalents is that the powerful give way to the weak.

        • Clive Durdle says:

          Mexico has a system of everyone stopping at junctions, which might be an improvement if used elsewhere.

          • AndyB says:

            I agree with Clive Durdle. (Mexico’s system of everyone stopping at junctions).

            Everyone (on the road) having to give way at junctions is something which I would like to see. Being obliged to stop is going further then I would have thought but it is logical. Either way it introduces the concept that everybody is obliged to give way, not have a right of way. You proceed by negotiation with others.

            I was told by a traffic engineer the other day that crossroads don’t work!. But I think that’s because we paint them with lines which gives one road a right over another. Near where I live there are proposals afoot to modify a set of cross roads to either a roundabout or (heaven forbid) traffic lights to control the extra traffic associated with a proposed new development. I could really see the Mexico approach working here, but I wonder if such an approach is capable if being supported by current traffic regulation procedures.

            Once you take the sting out of the tail of the Right of Way claimants it should become safer for people irrespective of their means of transport.

            • pm says:

              hmmm, I don’t know…I might be being unfair (maybe its not quite the same thing), but to me that sounds dangerously close to the nonsense that the ‘shared space’ cultists tend to come out with.

              Surely if you have a crossroad, with mixed travel modes, with no other system for determining right-of-way, it will revert to the usual rule humans always revert to of ‘might is right’? HGV>car>bike>pedestrian?

              • I realize this is an old post but drivers should not be lumped together same as cyclists are lumped together ie all are bad……. Some cyclists are crap as are some drivers but I can tell you that here in Nottingham there is a shared footpath/cycle track that would be safe but the Council cycle ego eccentrics have thought of a ridiculous idea because they think that telling drivers to give way to cyclists at certain junctions they will attract more folks to hop onto cycles. We can all see that their desires have not been successful.
                It is noted that ice and snow has been left on the footpath/cycle path to make things very dodgy for anyone to venture onto those tracks.

                Another important point is that the cyclists who were deemed to be militant and did not want to slow or stop at these junctions are using those junctions more dangerously than before the stupidity by the Council. It has always been prudent for careful motorists to slow down to be able to stop at these junctions in case a nutter were to blatantly bomb across. What these careless cyclists do not realize is that no driver can possibly see them due to obstructions such as trees ,hedges and fences that have been in place over 80 years.

                I can assure all and sundry that it most certainly is not down to cyclists if the good record re no cyclists injured on the Nottingham Ring Road is to be kept as it is. It is the good poractice of all the motorists who know full well that there may be more nutters about now that ‘they’ have been given ‘priority’.
                Incidentally I have not heard a thing re have the Council gained the sort after Final Safety
                Audit for these ridiculous junctions which no experienced safety person would condone.

              • MJ Ray says:

                I don’t understand how implementing current guidance on giving human-powered transport priority at junctions is “ego eccentric”. If motorists can’t see the priority arms of a junction, they should slow down. It sounds like that’s what Nottingham’s drivers are doing, which is good and encouraging.

                I agree we shouldn’t lump all motorists together or cyclists together, but that goes both for blaming them or praising them – any success in Nottingham is unlikely to be solely due to drivers.

            • pm says:

              Yeah, that word ‘negoitiate’ is a red-flag! Its the one shared-space types always use. And of course its nonsense in the context of substantial power differences.

            • MJ Ray says:

              “I could really see the Mexico approach working here, but I wonder if such an approach is capable if being supported by current traffic regulation procedures.” – It’s capable and a few have been built (Coventry for example, I think) but I think in good English style, they have signs to explain how the planners think it should work! (Give way to right, IIRC.)

        • Paul Luton says:

          The law of the sea is partly about sailing vessels being less manoeuvrable. Give way on turning seems reasonable for cyclists and pedestrians.

          • Clive Durdle says:

            How? Why? Where is the most momentum, who has powerful brakes? Who can cause most damage? Who has to interrupt their journey? Why? Why do not car drivers dismount or have to turn around to look when they might be near a kerb or slope and have balance problems? Why is it reasonable? Why does it seem reasonable?

            • Paul Luton says:

              Well pedestrians have the least momentum – stopping is just a question of not doing anything. Surely both sides might have to interrupt their journey.

        • paulc says:

          “Logically the rule of the sea and equivalents is that the powerful give way to the weak.”

          try asserting that logic in the English Channel with a supertanker bearing down upon your sailing boat…

        • AndyB says:

          I really like the parallel which is being drawn with the rule of the sea because I think it could be a very relevant approach to urban areas (with their mixed traffic types – pedestrians, cyclists. motor vehicles).

          The fundamental aspect about the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea is that there is no Right of Way. It is wrong to say that the powerful give way to the weak at sea as there plenty of circumnstances where this would not be the case. The regulations define the vessel which should give way – the ‘give way vessel’. Landlubbers might think this is the same as the other vessel (the ‘stand-on vessel’) having a right of way. But it’s not – there’s more to it. The ‘stand-on vessel’ remains obliged to avoid a collision to the extent that if the ‘give way vessel’ does not do as required then the ‘stand-on vessel’ must take action to avoid a collision. Both vessels have to give way. Not giving way is likely to result in being reported to the authorities.

          It is interesting to reflect that the relative speeds of ships to yachts are very similar to those of cyclists to pedestrians, and of motor vehicles to cylists.

          The big fault with highway regulation is that one group of people is given rights over another. In Bath there are now large areas of the city with 20mph speed limits (albeit not policed!) but by bringing speeds of different types of travel more into harmony with each other the need to confer a right of one group over another is reduced. People are equal.

          • pm says:

            “but by bringing speeds of different types of travel more into harmony with each other the need to confer a right of one group over another is reduced”

            But kinetic energy depends on mass as well as velocity. And motorists are still protected by armoured metal boxes, so surely the imbalance is still pretty large?

    • Har Davids says:

      In my experience, the Dutch are more relaxed about rules and prioroties; very often it’s a matter of who got at the spot first and the other yields. I drive and I cycle, a lot, so you may take my word for it. Better still: come over and see for yourself. According to foreign friends and relatives we live in cycle-heaven.

      Slightly of topic: the wide tunnel under Centraal Station in Rotterdam used to be pedestrians-only until a few years ago. You were expected to dismount or take a detour.

      • ABinB says:

        We were always taught the three important traffic rules: To be applied in order: when approaching a junction, those who continue straight ahead have priority; Traffic turning right has prioritiy over traffic turning left; slow traffic gives way to fast traffic. In cases of no traffic regulation signs. I suppose nowadays, you don’t see many non-regulated corners anymore

    • pm says:

      “The picture of csh5 shows pedestrians giving way to cyclists and having to use dropped kerbs and pavement markers.”

      You mean much like I, as a pedestrian, have to give way to motorists dozens, if not hundreds, of times a day? (Often even when I have a ‘green man’ in my favour, I’m still pretty much forced back by the failed amber-gamblers).

  6. Also, UK footway-style design picture, nothing done with the bend radius of that juction either. Meaning vehicles turning off the main road will be able to keep their speed; more gambling with people’s safety.

  7. David Dawson says:

    When segregated routes are built apart from the odd few like the London picture above they are usually poorly designed. A new bi-directional cycle track has just been finished in Norwich (a complete waste of nearly £1 million of cycle city ambition money, but that’s another story) but its so poorly designed, shown in the video on this article: and photos here:
    During the video Cllr Bert Bremner says the track could be heavily marked with large signs but its an historic area. It wouldn’t need huge signs if it were designed correctly with a contrasting colour and smooth tarmac surface rather than just tiny bicycle symbols. People walk on it because it looks like the footpath. Why is it OK for the road to be black tarmac, be littered with traffic light poles and white lines and some pedestrian guard railing and yet the cycle track has to be an inappropriate surface and colour? Just another public realm scheme dressed up as benefiting cycling using cycling money.
    I think failed schemes like this also contribute towards the proliferation of shared use rubbish. They will see pedestrians using it and just therefore assume that segregation doesn’t work rather than putting it down to the design.

  8. Ian Henderson says:

    The new Reading station has a similar tunnel beneath it to the Rotterdam tunnel, but just like the new bridge over the Thames there’s no separation for walking and cycling as far as I remember. Another missed opportunity by Reading borough council :-(.

  9. Terry says:

    ‘we don’t ever drive on footways’

    I’m surprised you say this. Motor vehicles have driven people cycling and on foot off the roads, and are now in the process of taking over the pavements too. Councils may be hostile to cycling on the footway, but they are happy to allow or even approve driving there. There are often marked parking bays on the pavement. I’ve never seen any action against people using the pavement for unauthorised parking or to get past queuing traffic. It seems to be ignored as long as they do it in a car and not on a bike, though many pavements are now reinforced to stop them being smashed up by drivers. Just today I saw a large van on the pavement between the line of parked cars and the shops, right next to a bus stop.

    • Park on a double yellow and a council enforcement officers can ticket you. However, drive onto the pavement it’s then a police matter and they won’t enforce.

      • Clive Durdle says:

        Although parking on a footpath causes (criminal?) damage as well as obstruction. What other possible offences?

        • Bikesy says:

          As people feel they have a god given right to leave their cars on the pavement when are we going to recognise that this is nonsense and lacking fairness? What right do any of us have to store our personal property, in this case a motor vehicle, up on the pavement or even half on the pavement and half in the road when we are not using it? Imagine if I decided to get a shed for my apartment that doesn’t have a garden, and instead store my shed outside on the pavement so I can have somewhere to keep my bicycles when it rains? Surely this is just as equal as keeping a motor vehicle outside?

          • ORiordan says:

            I live in London and the street has controlled parking costing £67.50 a year for a car.

            However if I wanted to have a skip on the street, it would cost £92.75 for 14 days.

            In other words a mobile skip (sometimes called a car) is over 30 times cheaper than a conventional skip, even if the mobile skip aka car is left on the same place in the street for an entire year (assuming it is taxed and licensed)

            And many residents even begrudge the charge for parking. It is somewhat ironic that the price of London property has gone up massively but they expect storage of private property on public land outside their house (sometimes called parking) to be free. Should the council provide free or subsidised space in storage facilities for residents who have too much stuff to fit in their flats as well?

      • pm says:

        Yup, See it all the time – drivers parking on pavements to avoid the adjoining double-yellow.. Occasionally they will veer onto the pavement to park even as I’m attempting to walk on it. Apparently its my job to jump out of their way.

    • MJ Ray says:

      I thought that about “we don’t ever drive on footways” too. Around here, footways are often a lane for “undertaking” other motorists waiting for a gap to turn right, run-off areas for lorries that don’t turn tightly enough or simply a place to drive struggling/stricken cars until the next junction or layby.

  10. Notak says:

    “Roads for bikes.”Oh my God yes! If only!

  11. burtthebike says:

    There is one other thing that those godawful shared use pavements do: they give drivers the right to abuse any cyclist who won’t ride on them.

    My local council, South Gloucestershire, is rather fond of these paths, complete with lamp-posts, signs, pedestrians and give way signs at every junction, and those of us who don’t want to dodge all the street furniture and don’t want to give way, are regularly abused. You know the kind of thing “get on the cycle path, you *********” complete with horn blaring and passengers making signs out of the window.

    The council, in cooperation with Highways England, have just re-engineered J16 of the M5, and made it more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, against every policy they’ve got, but since they’ve ignored them for twenty years, it was probably optimistic to assume they might start following them now. Cyclists and pedestrians are directed onto a share use path, under the motorway, next to three lanes of circulating traffic; the path is 1.8m wide, with lamp-posts in it. A girl was recently killed in very similar circumstances when she fell off her bike and was run over. The safety audits completely ignored the problem. I’m currently taking them to the ombudsman, but the case has been going for about nine months, and three appeals, and so far the only thing the ombudsman has agreed that the Road Safety Audits were inadequate, but she doesn’t think that this is a serious fault!

    We desperately need a body charged with improving road safety, independent and authoritative, because at the moment, local authorities can literally get away with murder.

    • Notak says:

      One of the worst things about that junction is not (ironically) that you’re asked to cycle on the pavement – there aren’t many pedestrians there so that’s not as bad, IME, as it could be – but that you’re then made to cross the motorway entry slip road on a completely deprioritised, unprotected crossing. Like a zebra but without any stripes, beacons or zig-zags and without, crucially, any signals or legal duty for traffic to give way to you while you’re crossing; whereas all the traffic on the roads is controlled by signals. I find it actually better to use the road there. However, if it were peak hours, I might change my mind. I’m glad I don’t work at Aztec!

    • Roland Backhouse says:

      Please can you provide further details of the death of the girl? I have recently made the case to the local council that the speed limit next to a cycle path should be dictated by the distance separating the path from the road, and where the distance is zero the speed limit should be no more than 30mph. My wife cycles daily on a narrow path next to the A52, where the speed limit is 70mph. It would be useful to have evidence of the risks that cyclists (and pedestrians) face when in such close proximity to high-speed traffic.

  12. Jitensha Oni says:

    I blow hot and cold on this, but at bottom the problem is that a rationale like the CROW table that you show is not applied. So we don’t get shared use here:

    whereas we do here:

    Completely the opposite of the CROW recommendations. This and other examples seem to be mainly designed as a way of getting slower cyclists off the road so motor traffic moves quicker, not to facilitate cycle safety or uptake. Where there are no slower riders, as in the first example, shared use does not seem to be considered necessary.

    Having said that, the Walton scheme does seem to have put a few more bums on saddles (and mostly on the shared use), so being given an opportunity to cycle legally off the carriageway is clearly something people want, and they’re not that fussy about the niceties. So I’m not sure it is fair on people who would prefer cycling over walking to deny them shared use. But if you’re going to have it through a busy pedestrian area like the centre of Walton, surely you should have it nearly everywhere on distributors of the kind shown in the first StreetView. There are a very large number of those in suburban Surrey that need converting. Plenty are cycling on them already.

  13. MJ Ray says:

    Dutch don’t cycle on ‘shared use footways’ – technically, neither do the British, do we? We cycle on cycle tracks which pedestrians are allowed to walk on, which may be rubbish redesignated footways with no replacement footway offered. I think stamping out the fuzzy language of “shared use” may help to clarify that both walking AND cycling should be given space, not simply lumped in together in insufficient width.

    • Notak says:

      When a line is painted on the pavement and it’s designated ‘shared use’ then pedestrians retain the right to walk on the whole width of the pavement (for that matter, they have the legal right to walk in the carriageway, subject to not causing an obstruction – a right is not always an ability). So, yes, it’s a shared use footway, that is the technical term. And of course if there’s no line, then it’s the same but more so!

      • MJ Ray says:

        Can you point me to the definition in law? It smells an awful lot like a marketing attempt to redefine cycle tracks as extra footways, which they aren’t, in order to avoid building both where both are needed.

        • Notak says:

          Para 10.2:
          A shared use route can be created by converting an existing footway or footpath, or
          by constructing the facility on a new alignment. Where the route is unsegregated, its
          full width is a cycle track on which there is a continued right of way on foot. For
          segregated facilities, only part of the width is a cycle track – the remainder is a
          footway or footpath on which cyclists cannot legally ride. People on foot normally
          retain a right of way on a cycle track.

          Note the last sentence especially.

          • Clive Durdle says:

            “People on foot normally retain a right of way on a cycle track” Can you point me to the law behind that assertion? A shared use document is not law! As mobility scooters are treated as pedestrians that means they are allowed on cycle tracks, contrary to actions of authorities in Oxfordshire. Also, pedestrians can walk where and whwn they like on cycle tracks!

            • Notak says:

              It’s a government document giving guidance on the general principles. I’m sure you can find the relevant legislation and post it here.

          • MJ Ray says:

            So? People normally retain a right of way on foot on a carriageway too, but we don’t claim that “shared use paths” is an acceptable technical term for those. The legal term is cycle track and we should use it. If pedestrian volumes are high, a footway should be provided too.

  14. D. says:

    Your photo of the new bridge in Reading looks the same as Pero’s Bridge in central Bristol. Narrow- certainly less than 3 metres- and busy with pedestrians but “shared use” and on the main cycle route… A bit rubbish, really.

  15. unironedman says:

    Oh the luxury! Come to Ireland where we are decades behind the UK in terms of cycling paths. And as most readers would concede, the UK is also way behind some of the more progressive continental countries. Here we have really poxy facilities for cyclists (for which read ‘mostly none’), and the few cycle paths we do have are always cheek-by-jowl with pedestrian footpaths. They are subsequently diseased with every manner of manhole cover, drain and access point known to mankind, with frequent cross-road interruptions and cunning kerbs to keep you on your toes (or more often on your arse). It’s a massive legacy issue and often simply boils down to a lack of road width. But more often than not, it’s really a complete lack of imagination, and a deficit in terms of the willingness to change from within the departments who are supposedly charged with bringing about that change.

    • someonesomewhere says:

      There is a nice tag on the blog a view from the cycle path:
      The Netherlands has a few cities with a road plan straight from the middle ages, cycling could be accommodated there, so why not in Ireland?
      You could also put drainage in the kerbs etc.

      • unironedman says:

        Yes indeed the Dutch have (largely) solved the problem, but I still maintain the critical location for the ‘space’ required is actually within the minds of the decision makers. That’s where it starts. The Dutch (and others) solved their problems because there was a willingness to do so. That space is first and foremost a mental space, a vision. This sort of vision rarely exists in Ireland. Sure we’re still marveling at the fact that people surf in this country, as if it was the most bizarre thing in the world. We can’t even get the cycle route through agricultural land in Galway because farmers are… actually to be honest I’m not really sure what farmers are thinking, but they have a strong lobby and get listened to by decision makers. We don’t have a legacy of public or ‘common’ land, or bridal paths, in this country. In many respects we are hundreds of years behind the times in this regard. So in relation the Middle Ages comment… perhaps we haven’t even caught up with the Dutch yet!

  16. paulc says:

    legal on the right hand pavement, illegal on the left hand pavement…
    No wonder pedestrians are so confused about people cycling on the pavement…

  17. Roland Backhouse says:

    One point that is not made in the article is the additional dangers at night time. There is a wide shared-use path on Victoria Embankment alongside the river in Nottingham. It is relatively well used (by UK standards) by both cyclists and pedestrians. At this time of year, however, anyone cycling to and from work will be doing so in the dark, at least on the home journey and it is very difficult to see pedestrians (and their dogs). Paradoxically, the problem is exacerbated by car headlights: a wall and trees separating the path from the road mean that car headlights create very deep shadows. This is one reason I never use the path. However the main reason that I never use the paths is that the primary purpose of so-called “cycling facilities” in the UK is to facilitate speedy movement of motorists and to give motorists impunity against causing accidents: the cyclist is always expected to give way to turning motorists and the cyclist is responsible for his/her safety when rejoining the carriageway, the motorist being completely absolved of any responsibility.

    • Motorists absolved of any responsibility……… never in a million years. Where are all the dead cyclists on the ring road which has been abused by cyclists for years. I have video of some of their antics = no hands, on the phone, playing a game, two abreast one on the footpath with total disregard for an old lady coming out of the front gate, wheelies on the footpath !

      If it were not for the vigilance of us drivers our no claims would not exist….Mine is 56 years & wife’s is 40 odd. She has never ever had an accident which is no thanks to the average nutter cyclist around here, it is through her very careful and observant driving.

      • MJ Ray says:

        Vigilance has little to do with No Claims Discounts. I lost mine at one point because other people crashed into my seldom-used parked-in-a-shared-car-park car too often.

  18. Shared Use is a cop-out. People vote with their feet/pedals. So when cyclists don’t use a shared use path (because it’s rubbish) after the council spend their money on a bit of paint and a few signs, we then get told that we’ve had the cycle money spent so we should be grateful, and it was all a waste of money as nobody uses it, so don’t ask again as all the money has gone. Meanwhile millions get spent on some bypass or road widening that will just get clogged up in no time with yet more motor traffic.
    It’s also a bizarre contradicition to say “cycle on the footpath” and then further up the road ban it. It’s incoherent.

    • Paul Luton says:

      There are occasions where a short length of shared use path allows cyclist a route not otherwise accessible. Crossing the toucan here :
      and cycling a short distance on the “wrong ” side of the street allows you to cut down Wharf Lane to the low traffic riverside route to Richmond.

      • MJ Ray says:

        A shared surface with no markings that doesn’t look particularly good for cycling (lower grip paving slabs) with no advance direction sign and a fingerpost sign part-hidden under a flower basket? That’s completely non-obvious to a new user and even if you know you want to turn right down Wharf Lane, you could easily end up on the wrong side of King Street with the turn blocked by a central reservation and a no-entry sign.

        I think it would be better to add a cycle-only turn-right lane before the signals to explicitly allow access to a two-way cycle track on the bend outside Johnson’s Shoes without waiting for the toucan (a so-called Copenhagen turn). From the time-travel option, it seems that there was a too-narrow cycle track on that corner in 2012 but rather than widen it (possibly tightening the corner in order to avoid taking space from walking), they removed it by 2014.

  19. Clive Durdle says:

    Would someone kindly tell me the legal meaning of these “notes” and “guides”. I am used to Acts and Statutory Regulations! What are these beasties?

    • MJ Ray says:

      As I understand it, they’re summaries of methods that would comply with the Acts, Regulations and Directions but governments have been unwilling to issue/update them to require it. No one seems to enforce their use, not even when the DfT that issues the notes is funding the work.

  20. Clive Durdle says:

    My background is with social security law, where regulations were written in detail for all permutations. Traffic feels to me simpler so I can’t work out why the law feels vaguer!

  21. Pingback: Green Wrythe Lane – one year on | Get Sutton Cycling

  22. Pingback: Lazy danger of shared footways – Bikefast

  23. Pingback: Wheatfield Way Shared Space – Stuff Rich Writes

  24. Fenson says:

    There is currently a consultation to extend the Buckingham to Winslow shared-use cycleway into Buckingham town centre ( ). Whilst the Buckingham to Winslow route alongside the A413 is narrow in places it is mostly OK as shared use due to very low pedestrian and cycle traffic. This may change when Winslow rail station opens in 2022. I feel the same treatment in the town centre is inappropriate due to much higher existing foot traffic and potential future cycle traffic. The proposal is to essentially allow cycling on existing footways, using narrow alleyways and footbridges, with a few junction treatments that treat cyclists as pedestrians, and is a long diversion compared to the direct route along London road. What do you think?

  25. Paul Luton says:

    Looks cheap and nasty but presumably the sections by the river are quite pleasant. It depends on the widths (London Cycling Design Standard gives 3m for moderate traffic shared use).
    Is there any way a cycle track could be put alongside the London Rd short of knocking down houses ? (google maps suggest not all the way).
    Would I use the proposed route ? – probably especially if London Rd were busy.

  26. Donkey says:

    Sometimes a conspiracy can only be guessed at by the ‘outline shape’ of the omission of logic. Lying-by-omission is popular! Or judged by its fruit.

    What would it look like if designers Street Planners, Government and Judges were conspiring to make CYCLING AS UNATTRACTIVE AS POSSIBLE?
    Whilst masking it with plausible deniability “oh we’re forced to design it like this, we make mistakes, we can’t fit everything in the same design, our hands are tied”, etc.

    “”it baffles me why we design the two modes together on brand new bridges and paths in areas that will have high footfall. The new shared bridge in Reading seems to me to be a recipe for conflict, especially if cycling levels increase.””

    Probable end-game goal: A docile, subservient, fat, unhealthy, electronically-enslaved populace. Who pay tax their whole lives then die young to not ‘waste’ living space whilst ‘non-productive’.
    Look at the Tory treatment of the disabled and sick as the tip of the iceberg.
    Whilst not helping the economy by planning to WIN on transport.
    Even corrupt, incompetent Tories can manage better, almost like ‘even a stopped-clock tells the time correctly, twice per day’.
    So it’s glaring that they don’t, in the decades-long trend we’ve seen. The Dutch are at least 30 years ahead. In what is, in fact, a somewhat-conservative country. The Dutch just have respect for each other on a practical level, rather than making a virtue of suffering. In order to support a social hierarchy made of egotistical bullying and (repressed or not) pathological need for domination at every turn. Resulting in sick, repressed, passive-aggressive lifestyles.
    The way since 1066, I would strongly argue. Time we improved upon that Norman, won-by-force-NOT-excellence abuse-culture, isn’t it?
    So, why wouldn’t they want couch-potatoes?
    Rather than healthy, free, non-tracked (electronic cars), oxygenated-brain-possessing STRONG, Government-abuse-resistant population? Technological slavery IS a thing – how would one legislate to ban a non-tracked bike versus a tracked one, without REVEALING the real intent?
    I imagine that’s another reason why death at the hands of cyclists has been hyped-up in the media. Laying the ground for hysterical demand for tracking cyclists – and since registration plates don’t fit, it’ll have to be an electronic solution if they do it. Way worse than mere registration plates.

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