TOUR DE FARCE: #DoncasterIsGreat But The Cycle Facilities Could Be Better!

Yesterday it was announced that Yorkshire would play host to the start of the 2014 Tour de France. This is fantastic news for cycling in Yorkshire and hopefully it will improve things – facilities, awareness, safety, etc. – for cyclists everywhere. It would also be really good if The Tour could act as a catalyst to kick-start the creation of a truly effective cycle transport network throughout God’s Own County.

My hometown of Doncaster is notoriously bad at catering for the needs of cyclists; the following photo is of a ‘cycle path’ close to my home…


Don’t be fooled, the picture actually makes the pathway look wider than it is. Notice how the symbol of the bike looks a bit squashed?.. well this will give you an idea of what this so called cycle path really is…


That’s right, it’s a gutter!.. which, as any cyclist will testify, is the worst area of the road for cyclists. Not only is it filled with drains and pot-holes, but it’s also covered with all the detritus thrown out of car windows by car drivers. And speaking of car drivers much of the cycle path also looks like this…


Because even though the houses which line this particular road have lovely big driveways some drivers just can’t resist being total assholes ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you look closely you’ll see that the way the car is parked helps to illustrate the fact that most of the cycle path is sloped (because it’s a gutter), this means that although the path is around 1m wide (well under the minimum 150cm recommended for a cycle path) the actual rideable surface is only around 30cm… and that’s if you include the white line ๐Ÿ˜‰ But by far the worse thing about this cycle path is the fact that it leads to Don Valley high school… yes, that’s right, Doncaster council are encouraging kids to ride down the gutters of main roads during rush-hour. Not that this will come as a surprise to any cyclist in Doncaster, even the good cycle paths tend to end in the most dangerous places imaginable. Unfortunately this isn’t the fault of local planners, national legislation states that such lanes must end wherever they become the slightest bit inconvenient to “other road users”… i.e. cars.

It’s a real shame that the local authorities don’t have a tad more imagination when it comes to lesser highways and footpaths though, because it wouldn’t take much to turn Donny into a cycling paradise. Over the years I’ve walked virtually every acre of this borough (confession time – being a militant pedestrian if my journey is less than 4 or 5 miles I wouldn’t even bother with the pushbike ๐Ÿ˜‰ – it’s also probably worth confessing that I believe segregating cycles on main roads benefits car drivers more than it does cyclists; by far the best way to make cyclists safer is to get on your bike and join the traffic!) and there is a real potential to to connect many of Doncaster’s satellite towns in a novel 100% human-powered transport network. In my more fanciful dreams I’ve even identified plots for aย local cycle-based farming initiative.

Who knows, maybe the arrival of the Tour de France in Yorkshire will finally make the local authorities sit up and take cycling seriously?..

And talking of sitting, just remember: YOU DON’T GET BUNS OF STEEL SITTING BEHIND A WHEEL!