Penn Hill- St Osmunds Road

Quick tuesday blog- if you ever use the roads in Poole youll enjoy this. Another blogger recently commented about the strangeness of the U.K attitude to cycling is, this blog is about that. An experience I have almost daily encapsulates the position Active Travel has in U.K life. Penn Hill Poole at the traffic light junction x-roads with St Osmunds road is somewhere I ride almost daily while bike commuting, many other locals also do so avoiding Bournemouth/ Poole road and the roundabouts at Branksome station.

Like everywhere there is a x-ing the traffic forms into a queue at the lights. When I approach in a phase which has already stopped, the choice is to filter to the front of the line and wait in the traffic stream, there is no marked cycle lane towards Bournemouth or an ASL (Advanced Stop Line) so its a matter of squeezing in between two cars to get in the leftside, or waiting behind 15-20 cars which is considerable distance and not something I’m generally prepared to do. If coming back from Bournemouth westbound there is an advisory cycle lane both sides of the road which ends/ starts where protection for bikes is most needed at the x-ing. At this junction (see picture) the westbound lane splits to allows right hand turns which invites users to overtake me in the right lane providing theres nothing already waiting to turn right, which is one way I’m put at risk when the lights are green. If Penn Hill road is at red when I arrive, then me being a skilled rider will take centre of the lane waiting at the light (the advisory paint ends as you can see) to eliminate the chance of a driver squeezing past me over the junction on a green light. As I travel west then, the opposite side of queue is just moving and there isnt space to pass me until its clear. its frustrating for the vehicle behind, (Im going 15 MPH in a 30 zone) and depending on the driver can result in some risky overtakes or ‘close passes’.

Now Ive been getting ‘close passed’ for 35 years so Im not too bothered but theres something to comment on this very common sort of junction which is the point of this blog (if youre still reading). Its a 4 way stop for traffic at pedestrian activated lights. Now if I ride through the traffic light on red during the pedestrian phase, there would be zero risk to anyone else, as I would be starting off speed anyway- and it would mean that in either direction I would have cleared the junction enough to not cause frustration to following vehicles- great idea right? No, problem is its red light jumping, and as road peace missionary and cycle campaigner I cant do that as it gives everyone else on the road ammunition to berate ‘cyclists’ for breaking the red light rule. So I wait, now why is there this situation where bikes and pedestrians are separated, Whilst there are loads of NEW cycle tracks that are ‘shared’ pedestrian and cycles? Its entirely contradictory, on the one hand no mixing and at the same time increasing amounts of ‘shared’ cycle tracks being installed. Is it lack of ambition to build protected bike lanes?

Like the U.K attitude to Active travel, we know that its the answer to better places, but the status quo prevails. There is a whole Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan being published by BCP in September, huge possibilities for building new protected cycle tracks and my personal campaign to make what already exists better. Campaigning for better cycleways is wierd in the same way as the above mentioned situation. U.K now knows it should change its ways to travel actively, but it isnt generally yet doing so, we know its the solution to so many problems- but there are so many cultural barriers. Thanks for reading, below is a picture of a quality design which we would hope to see more of from BCP, dont delay time is running out. Its your tuesday- the best day of the week, what did you do today? that was what your life was about.

Actual protected Cycleway design