Ahhh….the pointlessness of the advanced stop zone. This must be the most abused piece of cycle infrastructure in my fair city. Or at least this bit is. I have never, ever, ever ridden along this stretch of road without seeing a car plonked in it. This morning I pitched up on Churchill Way (in the heart of the city centre) and it was nice and empty. A mild autumn breeze cooled me after a pleasant ride in. I took a photograph or two. Moments later and sure as eggs, a car pitches up, ignores the line and sits there happily, metaphorically flippin’ the bird to the purpose of the box and the laws of the land (one day I’m going to set up a video camera and film the whole sorry story, playing it back in time-lapse so as not to bore everyone silly).
For this episode, it’s early in the morning, I’m the only cyclist around, so why does this matter?
Well, it matters because this street gets busier and the attitude of the motorists largely stays the same. That maroon box is inconsequential, pointless, used by them, the other, the nuisance. But actually folks, it exists to move us away from the cars that intend to drag race to the next set of lights. To move us ahead of the danger and keep us visible. To regulate the speed of motorists by making us a conscious part of their mental equations. To help make cycling safer and encourage more people to cycle. I’d probably be less wound up about this sort of thing, If I didn’t hear the constant refrain that it’s those ne’er do well cyclists that break all the rules, as if motorists are the most law abiding, non-speeding, non-red light jumping, non-parking on the pavement, non-priority box ignoring citizens. So here’s a tip for South Wales police; when you’re next done cracking down on cyclists avoiding the busy roads that choke the city centre – old story, regular occurence -pop over to Churchill way, note book in hand and hear the ‘Cherr Ching!’ of the till.
Don’t forget……I’m a motorist too. But we need cyclists protected to get more people on bikes and make our cities quieter, healthier places. For more on the rule 178 click here.