Transport Blog

Marlborough's cycle network - is it fit for purpose?

Published by Sam Page on 10 September 2014


Marlborough's cycle network is made up of quiet roads, pedestrian foot-paths and busy highways, lined with parked cars.  The Cycling Group has been working with Wiltshire Council, via the Area Board, to try and improve this network, for example, by resurfacing the path through Treacle Bolly and by installing proper signs along the designated route.  However, for the cycle network to be safe for cyclists of all ages, there needs to be much more attention paid to prioritating the needs of cyclists, over those of vehicles.  This includes introducing speed limits on roads shared by cyclists, reducing the dangers posed by parked cars and removing the need to dismount, by separating the cycle paths from pedestrian foot-paths and providing secure routes around roundabouts.

You can view the interactive map of Marlborough's cycle network and some of the hazards that local cyclists face by clicking, here...

Wiltshire Council's Active Travel Strategy (March 2010) states that walking and cycling must be at the heart of transport and health strategies in the county - and aims to 'provide a sympathetically designed, high quality and well maintained network of cycle routes in the principal settlements and market towns (including Marlborough) and where appropriate, between the market towns and to national cycle routes'.

The Department for Transport's Manual for Streets provides the following guidance for safe cycling:

  • Cyclists prefer direct, barrier-free routes with smooth surfaces. Routes should avoid the need for cyclists to dismount.
  • Cyclists are more likely to choose routes that enable them to keep moving. Routes that take cyclists away from their desire lines and require them to concede priority to side-road traffic are less likely to be used. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cyclists using cycle tracks running adjacent and parallel to a main road are particularly vulnerable when they cross the mouths of side roads and that, overall, these routes can be more hazardous to cyclists than the equivalent on-road route.
  • Cyclists are particularly sensitive to traffic conditions. High speeds or high volumes of traffic tend to discourage cycling. If traffic conditions are inappropriate for on-street cycling, the factors contributing to them need to be addressed, if practicable, to make on-street cycling satisfactory.
  • Where cycle-specific facilities, such as cycle tracks, are provided, their geometry and visibility should be in accordance with the appropriate design speed. The design speed for a cycle track would normally be 30 km/h (20 mph), but reduced as necessary to as low as 10 km/h (6 mph) for short distances where cyclists would expect to slow down, such as on the approach to a subway. Blind corners are a hazard and should be avoided.
  • Cyclists should be catered for on the road if at all practicable. If cycle lanes are installed, measures should be taken to prevent them from being blocked by parked vehicles. If cycle tracks are provided, they should be physically segregated from footways/footpaths if there is sufficient width available. However, there is generally little point in segregating a combined width of about 3.3 m or less. The fear of being struck by cyclists is a significant concern for many disabled people. Access officers and consultation groups should be involved in the decision- making process.

You can read the Department for Transport's full Manual for Streets by clicking here...