Dear Editor,

I am a cyclist and I do not drive a car. I cycle more than a thousand miles a year mainly in and around Basingstoke. 

I understand that the local council would like to encourage cycling and the following are my views on the subject:

There are three major problems with cycling in the town. 

Basingstoke is a dangerous environment for cyclists due to the plethora of roundabouts that might suit a car but leave the cyclist exposed. 

Only fitting traffic lights at every roundabout would solve this problem.  However doing so negates the purpose of the roundabout in the first instance.

Problem 1: The current cycling infrastructure is often poorly thought out, badly realised in practice and poorly maintained (I include sweeping and hedge cutting as part of the problem).

Problem 2: This is a national problem but a minority of drivers treat cyclists with evident impatience and distain – like second class road users in fact.

They should be note the fact that there are more bicycles in the UK than cars. 

It must be stressed that an environment where the better protected road users adopt this attitude is obviously very dangerous for the more vulnerable cyclist.

Problem 3: Hampshire Highways. The authority is responsible for maintenance of the highway but these people are unsympathetic to the cyclist’s needs. 

Any road planning undertaken by these people self-evidently does not include cyclists as a priority. 

They are very slow to react to the sort of road problems that impinge on cyclists - such as pot holes. 

The Eastrop Cycleway connects the eastern side of central Basingstoke to Basing and is one of the few examples of a truly dedicated cycle path in the borough. I will outline the deficiencies of this relatively short cycle path.

1) It is rarely swept. This is the major down side when cars do not use a carriageway, as cars scarify the road surface by throwing debris into the gutter as they pass. This obviously cannot happen on a dedicated cycle path.

2) It is overgrown by bushes and over hanging trees.

3) It has a gate at one end to prevent access by cars ( or actually to prevent travellers gaining access to an adjacent empty field). 

These gates were original placed in a position to totally block the entire carriageway, including the cycleway.  After complaints they were moved. 

Sadly the resulting pinch point for cyclists adjacent to the gates is on the downside of the road’s pronounced camber so this is where all mud and detritus collects. 

Hampshire Highways has refused to remedy this last problem, as this would mean moving the gates a second time. 

To add to this problem the local council seems incapable of clearing the mud that renders this part of the cycleway virtually unusable in any meaningful way after rain. 

And to gild the lily, the access to this pinch point occasionally has cars parked against it which blocks the access.

Finally a few years ago, a contractor excavated the entire cycleway to lay cables to the Viables industrial estate. 

Their final reinstatement of the carriageway was so undulating and poor that it had to be re-laid. 

This remedial work did not include the road surface of the cycleway, only the carriageway surface towards the Viables used by cars.

I have one final plea: Is it not beyond the scope of the council or their agents to prevent cars parking on existing cycle paths as they do when picking up pupils near schools? 

If a cyclist dares confronts these miscreants the only response is verbal aggression so that is probably not the answer.

If the above opinion on cycling in the borough seems negative, it stems from my experiences. I face these niggling thoughts every time I ride out. 

Additionally I am someone who no longer bothers to complain to the authorities about road deficiencies except in dire circumstances.

If the healthy lifestyle choice of cycling is to be encouraged and society would benefit from this non-polluting form of transport, there is a large amount of work needed to overcome our fellow citizen’s inertia in making this choice.

David Dry