Sunday, 14 September 2008

Darlington: A cycling demonstration town?

At the last Full Council meeting I pointed out that, for all its excellent rural and suburban cycle routes, if the Council was serious about increasing cycling in Darlington it would have to make it safe for cyclists to commute to work or shop in the town centre. Cllr Lyonette's helpful response was to recommend I purchase a cycle map of the town.

These videos, made by Mike McTimoney, show his experience of cycling to work in Darlington. Mike avoids the death trap that is the inner ring road and also the stretch of North Road from Morrisons to town, which is pretty hairy. Look out for the two cars certainly breaking the 20mph speed limit on Salisbury Terrace, and the white car which just has to squeeze past on Larchfield Street. The recently refurbished Greenbank Rd/Woodland Rd junction would have benefitted from a cyclists' refuge ahead of the traffic queue.




10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

The videos demonstrate that cycling in heavy traffic isn't safe for the cyclists.

Interestingly in Haughton West the completion of a footpath to the play area in Springfield Park which was intended to permit children from the Sparrowhall Drive entrance to walk to the play area in the park has resulted in more children from the Whinfield Park Estate using their bikes to cycle to Whinfield Primary School. That was not the intention of the footpath extension.

AllyAEC said...

I find it interesting when a lady was cycling for the first time today (at the tender age of my mum/nan) and she said she was frightened to cycle on the road, to which I agreed with her and I only cycle on the actual road between cycle routes/junctions. Its a nightmare in parts of Darlington.

miketually said...

That's my commute - the second video follows on from the first.

I no longer follow that route to work as changes made in the last year or so mean that I have a much better route.

Mike, if I don't get in touch by email this evening, remind me to fill you in on the Grange Road roundabout saga...

Aeres said...

Strangely compelling...

One would imagine it would take a very brave cyclist to turn right at the Greenbank/Woodland Road junction. I was quite relieved when you went straight on and I was only watching it.

miketually said...

I turn right at that junction quite regularly. Cycling on the road always looks much more dangerous than it really is; even I feel that way when walking down North Road.

In reality, if you ride sensibly, predictably and confidently it's very safe. Being confident enough to move to the middle of the lane makes a big difference, as does not riding in the gutter - I cringe when I see some people riding in the gutter and suddenly swerving out to get round parked cars.

It could be made much safer, however, and that's what we (Darlington Cycling Campaign) would like the Council to do. At the moment, it seems they're happy to carry out improvements provided it doesn't impose upon car space, which renders much of what they do useless.

John S. Rutherford said...

I would suggest that cycle training through a competent body such as Sustrans or Cycling solutions would help. If that is a helmet mounted camera I didn't see many safety checks when riding in the blind spot or pulling away from junctions; being able to see a potential hazard allows the rider to take preventative action and makes for happier 'cycling.
John S. Rutherford

miketually said...

The camera's strapped to the handlebars, not my helmet. It's easiest to tell from the height when I'm behind the car on North Road, and from the way it turns when waiting at Greenbank Road.

I've not had any formal cycle training since my cycling proficiency 20 years ago, but I've read up on correct techniques - I know my primary position from my secondary and I'm not afraid to use it :)

I almost feel like I've developed a sixth sense through riding in traffic and can tell when cars are going to do silly things before they do. It's obviously down to subconsciously noticing changes in engine note, wheels turning or driver body language, but I'm sure it's there.

John S. Rutherford said...

Thank you for clearing up your camera mounting technique and your illuminating insight into the metaphysics of bicycle riding.

John S.Rutherford

Anonymous said...

i think you need new training your road positoin is not good and your fear of the ring road reflexs on your cycling skills

miketually said...

Anonymous, I'm not sure how you can figure that out from the video. My road positioning is fine, and I'm not scared of the ring road.

Perhaps you can let me know what you think I should be doing differently?