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June 17, 2024
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Safety works confirmed for “optical illusion” cycle lane behind more than 100 injuries, as infrastructure branded an “utter pantomime”

An under-fire council has provided further details of scheduled maintenance works to improve safety on a high street where a cycle lane has caused an estimated injury list in excess of 100 people since it was installed in March 2022.

The situation around the Keynsham cycle lane, between Bristol and Bath in Somerset, has been well-documented in the past 12 months, constituency MP Jacob Rees-Mogg causing headlines last year when he called the project a “failed experiment”. The lane has caused many to trip, due to a reported “optical illusion” with the differing height of the kerb between the cycle lane and pavement, with 59 injuries reported in the first year of use, a number now believed to have passed 100.

Bath and North East Somerset Council has announced further safety works which will be undertaken in the coming weeks, subject to a road safety audit and appropriate weather conditions. The council has already tried painting the cycle lane red, but will now change the solid white line at the side of the infrastructure to a broken white line and add “additional visual signals that there is a kerb”.

“In the coming weeks, we will be removing the solid white line at the edge of the cycle lane, and replacing it with a broken white line and adding double yellow lines on the carriageway to create additional visual signals that there is a kerb,” councillor Paul Roper told the BBC, also explaining that the cycle lane was built to LTN120 standards and was subject to four safety audits.

He added that previous works have led to a reduction in reported incidents to a level of, on average, two to three per month. However, there has been vocal opposition from other councillors, Conservative Alan Hale calling it an “utter pantomime”.

“You’d think with the best part of 100 casualties over two years, [the council] would actually be doing something positive and firm,” he said this week. “People will not stop falling and will not stop injuring themselves.”

Roper’s Liberal Democrat colleague Hal MacFie added: “What we believe is happening is that people who live in Keynsham are very wary coming up here. They know that if they just forget for a minute on one of those kerbs, it’s going to go and they’re going to go down with it.

“Those people either aren’t coming [to town] or they’re very cautious, but people from outside of town don’t know about it and they’re the ones who will start to go down.”

By November last year the number of reported injuries was 76, a figure rising further to more than 100 by now, with further trips and falls reported over the Christmas period. Last week, we reported that posts on FixMyStreet had shown casualties suffered a “badly jarred back, causing pain, numbness and sciatica”, “significant trauma and soft tissue damage”, and “severe bleeding to my nose, face and hands followed by bruising” in December.

“This is the worst cycle path design I have ever seen,” one person injured said. “No consistency in levels. Some parts flush, some parts raised with no distinct difference in visual colouration to help differentiate between the two, which is an obvious breach of accessible design criteria. It is shocking.

“I can’t believe this is legal. Completely idiotic. I’m an architect and I can only imagine that this was designed by toddlers or with the intention being to attract tourists to the ‘UK’s most dangerous cycle path’.”

In November, pedestrianisation was said to be being considered to fix the cycle lane dubbed “the most dangerous street in the UK”, the council committing to further works this month to warn people of the level changes.

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