Local council election literature gets my goat every time. In my neck of the woods, it’s all about out-greening the Greens.
All of the parties – even the Tories – are full of how massively pro-cycling they are.
In the months leading up to the May elections every two years, candidates pop out of the woodwork and seem to be busier even than the campaign group, Cyclox.
They’re here, there, everywhere, astride a bike for photos by The Plain or along Cowley Road, striking winning ‘vote for me’ poses. Those that don’t get elected presumably return their barely-used helmets to the cycle shop or box them up and save them for the next time.
This April what really narked me was a local candidate who claimed to be campaigning for safer cycling by petitioning the council to stop cyclists going the ‘wrong way’ down Rectory Road. This road has a no-entry sign at the top by Truck Records – with a fiddly cycle filter I presumed was a fairly elaborate cycle-access lane. Everyone who cycles down Rectory Road naturally assumes this facility exists to protect cyclists against traffic coming up.
The design clearly suggests the road is two-way for cyclists, with a prohibition on cars going down.
So I got on my high horse and complained, telling the candidate he was campaigning against cycling, not for it.
I stand corrected. Rectory Road is, it transpires, supposed to be one-way for all traffic. The fiddly cycle-filter is to help cyclists crossing Cowley Road, not entering Rectory Road, but the painted arrows faded away years ago. Apparently a man had been knocked off as he cycled down the road ‘the wrong way’, and locals wanted to make future collisions less likely by putting up signs warning cyclists. (Was he knocked off because he was going the wrong way? I mean seriously, where was the car driver looking?) Anyway, our candidate can claim to have done his little bit for safer cycling, and I have wound back my jack-in-the-box.
There are such huge dangers facing cyclists on Cowley Road itself, surely any candidate wishing to really make a difference should try to tackle the serious problems. Enforcing the 20mph speed limit and filling in the deadly potholes would be a great start.
For me, the question that this all begs is: why is Rectory Road NOT two-way for cyclists?
Meanwhile, the crumbling contraflow cycle lane on Little Clarendon Street is about to be repainted. While the council has some focus on contraflows, I would like to propose that all other one-ways in the city are made two-way for cycling. What one-way roads near you should be made two-way for cycling?