The Mayor gives The Gazette a cyclists view of the town

Basingstoke Gazette: Gazette chief reporter Emily Roberts, with Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane, Cllr Martin Biermann Gazette chief reporter Emily Roberts, with Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane, Cllr Martin Biermann

IN September, The Gazette put the spotlight on cyclists riding illegally at Top of The Town following concerns from readers that it was a problem area.

The issue resulted in much debate, with some suggesting that the area should never have been made into a pedestrian zone in the first place.

One of these was Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane Councillor Martin Biermann, who regularly uses his bike to attend engagements.

He believes much of Basingstoke is not cycle-friendly, and to prove a point, he took me on a tour of the town to highlight some of the problem areas, and to explain how he feels the borough is not doing enough to encourage people to get on their bikes.

We headed to Top of The Town, where Cllr Biermann believes the ‘no cycling’ signs are “inadequate” because of their size and position.

Although there are signs in the area, some of the entrances do not have them, and therefore a cyclist could break the law before even realising they are doing so.

Although I agreed the signs are quite small, and accepted the fact they are not prominent, I had to point out that because the area is clearly not for cars, surely a cyclist should automatically question whether they are allowed to cycle there before doing so?

Cllr Biermann mentioned that when the area was pedestrianised, the council had a responsibility to provide alternative provision for cyclists.

He said: “I suspect the signs don’t conform with the statutory guidance and that blocking off that route for cycling doesn’t conform with the (Department for Transport) guidelines which suggest there should be alternative provision if imposing cycling restrictions.

“My argument is that it would be perfectly manageable to set up shared use of Top of The Town. But I’m the first to accept that’s an opinion.”

We then headed to Eastrop Roundabout, where the mayor presented the option of going through the underpass or around the roundabout.

“Sometimes pedestrians aren’t happy if you cycle through underpasses,” he said. “And sometimes I’m not happy because if you have a crowd of kids in there, you are meant to use your bell but that seems rude.”

Once through the underpass there is a fairly steep hill the other side, which I managed without getting off my bike.

The alternative route would be to join the cars on the roundabout. Unless you are a competent cyclist, which I am not, then this is a crazy idea, and totally unnecessary when there is another way.

My fears were sadly proved right when, riding alongside the cars on the approach to the traffic lights from Basing View, I smacked into a wing-mirror before falling in a bush. The approach is too narrow to queue alongside the cars and there are nettles in the way.

Another area of the town which poses problems for cyclists is a newly-dedicated cycle and pedestrian path along Popley Way and Carpenters Down.

Cllr Biermann said many cyclists opt to use the road instead, where they have right of way, rather than give way to cars coming out of side roads if they are on the cycle path.

At the Reading Road Roundabout, the mayor said cyclists either have to get off their bike on a section of pavement, or join the cars on the Ring Road.

And in Popley, the route from Sherborne St John was completely blocked off when Everest Community Academy was built.

Although he admits these problems individually are a minor nuisance, he believes the inconvenience of having to constantly dismount could discourage people from using their bike to get somewhere.

“They are only little things,” he said. “But if you are talking about lots of little things, then it becomes a nuisance.”

I don’t cycle regularly, so perhaps it is more difficult for me to understand the mayor’s point of view, and those of other cyclists.

I do agree that certain routes perhaps could be made more cycle-friendly, but to suggest that cyclists should be able to make every journey without getting off their bikes or stopping is, in my opinion, unrealistic. Even if there were dedicated paths along every road, cyclists still have to observe traffic lights, give way signs, and other obstructions.

But what do you think?

Comments (4)

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3:25pm Tue 4 Dec 12

Upontheroof says...

Give them fixed penalties like they do with motorists. That'll get some money in the bank - whoops I mean teach them a lesson.

After the Mayors ridiculous speech last month, he should of got on his bike and kept peddling!
Give them fixed penalties like they do with motorists. That'll get some money in the bank - whoops I mean teach them a lesson. After the Mayors ridiculous speech last month, he should of got on his bike and kept peddling! Upontheroof
  • Score: 0

5:40pm Tue 4 Dec 12

jmwturner says...

Come on, be reasonable, we all have to share the town. I walk, ride, and drive. Just let other people have reasonable use without hassle, whatever their mode of transport on a given day.
And the Mayor is right, provision for cyclists is minimal to inadequate, and poor bike parking areas too Don't forget, when I'm on my bike I'm not filling the road with my car in front of your car. And I am making less pollution than a car.
Come on, be reasonable, we all have to share the town. I walk, ride, and drive. Just let other people have reasonable use without hassle, whatever their mode of transport on a given day. And the Mayor is right, provision for cyclists is minimal to inadequate, and poor bike parking areas too Don't forget, when I'm on my bike I'm not filling the road with my car in front of your car. And I am making less pollution than a car. jmwturner
  • Score: 0

1:56pm Fri 7 Dec 12

robertspet8 says...

jmwturner wrote:
Come on, be reasonable, we all have to share the town. I walk, ride, and drive. Just let other people have reasonable use without hassle, whatever their mode of transport on a given day. And the Mayor is right, provision for cyclists is minimal to inadequate, and poor bike parking areas too Don't forget, when I'm on my bike I'm not filling the road with my car in front of your car. And I am making less pollution than a car.
I agree but would add that in many places in and around Basingstoke the provision for pedestrians is also hopelessly inadequate. The town and most of the estates built after the late 60s were designed around the car. It is often the older areas which have the best provision for those on foot.
[quote][p][bold]jmwturner[/bold] wrote: Come on, be reasonable, we all have to share the town. I walk, ride, and drive. Just let other people have reasonable use without hassle, whatever their mode of transport on a given day. And the Mayor is right, provision for cyclists is minimal to inadequate, and poor bike parking areas too Don't forget, when I'm on my bike I'm not filling the road with my car in front of your car. And I am making less pollution than a car.[/p][/quote]I agree but would add that in many places in and around Basingstoke the provision for pedestrians is also hopelessly inadequate. The town and most of the estates built after the late 60s were designed around the car. It is often the older areas which have the best provision for those on foot. robertspet8
  • Score: 0

9:39pm Sun 9 Dec 12

Marina Morris says...

Can the mayor (or the Gazette) shed any light on how much it cost to install that 10 feet long cycle track complete with kerbs in Old Kempshott Lane? Complete lunacy. Perhaps the Gazette could show a picture of it (or does it need a puddle to qualify?)
Can the mayor (or the Gazette) shed any light on how much it cost to install that 10 feet long cycle track complete with kerbs in Old Kempshott Lane? Complete lunacy. Perhaps the Gazette could show a picture of it (or does it need a puddle to qualify?) Marina Morris
  • Score: 0

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