Thursday 14 May 2015

Bears Way: Heaven or Hell?

I was like a kid before Christmas.

I was literally bouncing off walls.

Yes, the first potentially semi-decent segregated cycle lane on my route to work is now being built. I've talked about it before and you can find what I've said already here.

The keen eyed will have noticed that my first two sentences of this blog are however using the past tense. Why, well, now that East Dunbartonshire has started building the lane, the reality is starting to set in. If it continues to go in as planned it is going to be far from perfect. In fact, I might not even use it! Rather than explain it to you, let me share a letter I have sent to one of the council officers in charge of the project.

Hi xxxx,
I hope you are keeping well.

I have been watching the building of the 'Bears Way' segregated cycle route with some considerable interest and I look forward to trying it when it is finished. I am desperate for some good quality infrastructure.

In the past I discussed with the design team some of the issues with the designs, i.e. the need to cross over, the fact that it was a two way lane etc. However, since I have seen the work progress I have some new concerns. My first is the treatment of cyclist heading north as they approach the Burnbrae Roundabout. Previously the lane continued on north beyond the roundabout. It wasn't ideal, but at least it kept cyclists going in that direction away from what is a horrible roundabout. Now cyclists are abandoned on the pavement and are expected to then use the junction to join the join the roundabout. This is definitely a step in the wrong direction. Having also spoken to a few cyclist who head north (I head north east onto Glasgow Road), I understand that a new pinch point has been created at the new crossing. This is obviously concerning.

This morning I was also very concerned at some new bollard signs going up. They are placed just before junctions and the arrows suggest that cyclist must give way to traffic coming from side (minor) roads. Is this correct? I'll be quite shocked if it is, as this would effectively stop me and many other cyclists from using it. Why use a segregated lane that is significantly more inconvenient to use than the main road? Would a main road ever be built where drivers were expected to continually stop for cars entering it?

My final issue for the time being is the floating bus stop being put in near Burnbrae. First let me congratulate you on building the lane this way. I think the idea is excellent. However, I am concerned at the step angle that cyclists will need to turn to allow for this. This might not be an issue if the lane was one, way, but traffic is supposed to be using it in both directions. This area has a high potential for collisions, especially in the wet and when the council inevitable does not clear leaves and muck as often as it should.

I have attached a few images from my helmet camera that demonstrate the areas I am discussing.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your reply.

Best regards

David Brennan

 For me personally the biggest issue is the treatment of cyclists at junctions. If the priority isn't correct and it isn't properly signed and controlled (raised tables could be a solution) then the lane is very poorly designed and one I might chose not to use.

I'll let you know when I get a response, but feel free to let me know your thoughts.


  1. Sadly, I suspect the priority issue will not be resolved in favour of the cyclist. I've yet to come across a segregated cycleway which has priority over a side road junction.

  2. there's an "active travel day" tomorrow where apparently, well according to the council website, we can all go and find out more about the travel hub at Kessington, sustainable transport and the A81 Bears Way route corridor improvements.

  3. I see the TSRGD 522 <=> sign as a 'Look both ways!' warning, rather than anything to do with priorities. The usual legend is 'Two-way traffic on route crossing ahead'. Heights and sizes look wrong, but they're temporary.
    Of course, usually a two-way road crossing a one-way road will take priority, so there is often that association in practice.
    TSRGD Chapter 4 says
    5.4 Diagram 522 is generally used on a one-way road to indicate that a road it joins or one that crosses it carries two-way traffic. It is normally sited on the back of the “no entry” sign. However, it might also be helpful on a two-way road where it is crossed by another two-way road after a succession of intersections with one-way roads. "

    I suspect that all segregated cycleways in the Netherlands take priority over side-roads, which is why they work and are used ... CTC say this would need a change in UK law ?
    Even just for entrance to a business premises, as well as for thoroughfares ?

    Counterexamples: - later reverted ! - - later reverted ! -
    Note the paint wore away completely after 4 years - dangerously ambiguous.
    - from

    TRL research:

    1. Another counterexample, that has existed since 2009, and survived re-painting (Cheltenham):

      More related discussion (Bradford):

    2. Oh, and

    3. Oh, and

      It's not like people haven't discussed these things before !

    4. And in Leeds

  4. Red triangular signs are indeed just warnings.

    The inverted red triangle TSRGD 602 'Give Way' sign defines priority - they should be on the side roads, preferably with TSRGD 950 'Cycle route ahead' bike-in-red-triangle for for traffic crossing the cycle-path. Even TSRGD 601 'Stop' could be used.

    But road markings will probably be enough for field gateways, drives and site entrances.
    They should make it clear who has priority, without adding much cost or clutter.

  5. It requires really good drivers, like this trucker that avoided killing a child.

  6. Now that the Bearsway "facilty" is nearing completion I'm not impressed.

    Going south the short section between the roundabout and the Burnbrae will never be used. Keep priority on the main road or cross it twice for the sake of 200M of lane?

    Going north entering the lane at Kessington involves either stopping or holding primary while looking for a gap in the traffic to cross into the lane or signalling right while braking to stop in the small right turn box at the start of the lane. Less confident cyclists could have issues.

    Further on the previous 18-20 downhill run past the sports center entrance has been replaced with a slow crossing giving way to traffic leaving or entering the sports center.

    Then further on the previous clear run to the roundabout has been replaced with a probable halt to stop the traffic with the lights at the crossing to regain the correct side of the road. And I'll always stay on the road. If I've used the lights I'll be at the roundabout while the traffic is still stopped anyway.

    Overall - a huge waste of money. All they needed was a decent surface on the old lanes combined with double yellows to deal with parking in the lane at the Burnbrae area.

    1. Having been over the lane quite a bit I agree with most of what you say. The Allander crossing has priority for bikes now but you have to almost stop every time to make sure you don't get wiped out by right turners. The bit between MCD's and the roundabout is only any good if going into Milngavie, otherwise you end up with a really bad entrance back into the roundabout where you have to monitor a large amount of traffic from various directions!

  7. I have now used the pathway several times. The Hillfoot entrance is far from ideal with getting onto the lane being dependant on traffic flow as I have to cross two lanes of traffic. I don't know why it wasn't extended to Hillfoot pedestrian lights. The Allander crossing is worth approaching with a lot of care as some cars just don't stop. I have stopped using the section after crossing at McDonalds as I want to go past Waitrose and have to wait for ages to get onto the roundabout due to traffic if I use the path. Some Milngavie folks are going well out their way to give cyclists not on the lane a hard time. They do this not knowing where I am going or why I have left the lane. It would be nice if they could stop this harassment as I really doubt they would do it to me when not on a bike. I will use the main part of the lane when I can. The crossing points were always going to be issues when building a lane into an existing network but the main part of the lane is decent enough and if nothing else slows the traffic in this area and adds some segregation.