GCC seek feedback on soft segregation experiment

Well, they’re not seeking it yet, but they will be very soon according to this Go Bike post.

On Aikenhead Road eastbound Glasgow City Council have put up four different types of “soft segregation”, plus a mandatory cycle lane and an advisory one. The hope is that a bunch of people will submit feedback on which one makes them feel the safest, and then GCC will pick the cheapest the one people like the best to roll out elsewhere.

Soft segregation means that some kind of barrier exists between you and motorised traffic, but it still relies to some extend on drivers behaving themselves. None of these will stop people blocking the lane with abandoned vehicles if they really want to.  Viz:

That being said, any segregation is better than just paint.

Before I quickly canter through what’s there, if you want to see it for yourself you want to head east from the north-western end of Aikenhead Rd, where it joins Cathcart Rd. There’s no infrastructure connected to it, but the A728 bridge over the motorway is particularly unpleasant. Approaching from Butterbiggins Rd is less perilous, and also means I get to type “Butterbiggins”.

One more thing.

The demo lane is far too narrow

I’d have laughed, if it wasn’t for the concern that the my handlebars were about to catch on a bollard. The usable width is definitely no more than 80cm, and at times (when drains protrude from the gutter) much less than that. At one point the entire width is covered by ironworks, which would be a delight in the wet:

ironworks in cycle lane
Do you want to come a cropper on the paint, the ironmongery, or the rumblestrip and cats eyes?

In Scotland we’re stuck with the outdated Cycling by Design as guidance, but even that recommends a minimum usable with of no less than two metres. As such it’s hard to get a real sense of what these lanes would be like as every one feels claustrophobic at this width.

Why so much paint?

The width failing is exacerbated by the abundance of painted lines. In segregated infrastructure there’s no need for double yellows within the lane – it just narrows the safe surface. There’s also no need for the additional white dashes on the right. Just give me a wider lane!

Where some colour would be useful is on the tarmac itself to really drive home that this surface is for bikes and nothing else. We use red (the Dutch colour of choice) for bus lanes, but blue or green would work well. Here’s how these lanes could look:

Demonstration cycle lane
That left hand kerb with the pavement is angled rather than vertical, again maximising the usable space. Because the double yellows are outside the bollards (another suggestion to drivers that they shouldn’t be left of this), there’s no need for any white paint at all.

(I no longer have a copy of Visio, so expect many more diagrams like this!)

But enough of my art. Let’s look at the six lanes.

Lane 1, the mandatory cycle lane.

Mandatory cycle lane with bus stop.

The lane starts with a stretch of mandatory on-road cycle lane, with the only unusual feature being the use of rumble paint on the right hand white line and a bit of a paint buffer.

These don’t work. They’re constantly blocked by parked vehicles, and GCC and the police show no interest in enforcing the mandatory-ness.

Also note how no effort has been made to safely integrate the bus stop.

Lane 2, bollards

Bollard-delineated cyclelane

I should mention my camera is mounted just above the front wheel. The bollards are about a metre high.

These were confidence-inspiring, and the only example that would stop large vehicles trampling over lanes to unload. If I was being picky, I’d rather swap out the blue cycle logo for more reflective surface. It would be easy to merge back into traffic (not that I’m suspicious that GCC may occasionally forget that cyclists need to turn right).

The best of the bunch.

Lane 3, Rosehill Highways Cycle Lane defenders

Lane defenders

Hard to see even in daylight (why on earth pick black plastic?), these would be murderous in the dark and are just the right height to whip out your front wheel from beneath you. The tiny reflective strips run along the sides, so wouldn’t help at all.

Further negatives:

  • No “road presence” at all. I’d be amazed if drivers even noticed them.
  • Could easily be driven over.
  • Completely prevent cyclists merging back into traffic.

Absolutely not. Ever. Do not want.

Lane 4, Cyclehoop Armadillos

Cyclehoop armadillos

Cute, but a little tricky to spot against the white paint. So long as GCC went for the taller versions I could get along with these (particularly if they were interspersed with the odd bollard or taller obstruction). Again, easy to merge through.

A quick Google suggests they might be a little fragile.

Lane 5, Rediweld Orcas

Rediweld orca lane dividers

My second favourite after the bollards. I liked the very forgiving concave cyclist side, and the vertical motor vehicle side. Struck me as a better-designed Armadillo.

Could maybe do with being a little taller, and again; would benefit from being alternated with something taller. I’ve also couldn’t find any comments about durability.

Lane 6, advisory paint

Advisory paint cycle lane

Advisory cycle lanes are of no benefit to anyone, so let’s not talk about them further. Just be aware that this experiment finishes at the entrance to a large factory, so be extra careful of left-hooking lorries.

Bonus comment: the bollards in the above picture have a better reflective surface that the ones in lane two.

Conclusion: make it wider, blue, and use bollards and orcas and much less paint.

And definitely don’t use the Rosehill defenders.


PS: I’ll update this article as soon as GCC reveal how you can submit feedback.


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Did you happen to see my post on this?


I actually didn’t mind the cycle lane defenders. The charge that they’re darkly coloured… yes well so is the kerb. To my mind they were the one lying one’s that looked like they might actually keep a vehicle out of the cycle lane properly, as opposed to posts or planters. As I said in my article , I could see the deployed as temporary barriers in the event of medium or long term road works putting a cycle path out of action e.g. a building being demolished.

Good points, well made and I agree that the bollards option would make me feel safer cycling here if it was wide enough.

I was wondering about whether the Rediweld Orcas or Armadillos would enable street sweeper to clear debris from the cycle lanes whereas kerb or bollards would prevent this?

It would also be interesting to think how visible any of these would be under a light cover of snow which again would hide all but the bollards.

Hi Joel. I’d noticed that you’d written something, but deliberately didn’t read it until I’d got my thoughts down! I get that defenders are a similar colour to a kerb, but then I know where a kerb is meant to be. My concern would be these get slapped down to create narrow lanes that I then can’t clearly see or get out of. And it’s not as if our existing concrete kerbs stop cars…

Graham: that was a point I meant to mention under width. Lanes definitely need to be wide enough to get one of the pedestrian street sweepers down. As such it should matter what segregation method is used, so long as the sweeper can get in at the start.

On snow, I think anything but the defenders would be OK. We don’t often get more than an inch or two.

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