I’ve talked before about cycling infrastructure and wanted to do a piece on this specific stretch of cycle path between Lichield and Fradley for a while, by the Tesco depot on Gorse Lane. The volunteers of the Cycle Rides For All are due to meet this week to discuss a possible programme for 2014 and I just wanted to offer up something to debate. We often take this road when coming back from Fradley Junction and I wanted to make a suggestion about a different way we could tackle it, in the context of taking a group of 30 to 50 riders of mixed ability who are out on a family friendly ride. This road is part of NCN 54 and at some point, I assume when the Tesco depot was built, this short cycle path was installed.
Gorse Lane is approximately 0.8 miles long, the first half mile or so from Hay End Lane end has no cycle path. The last third of a mile adjacent to the Tesco warehouse above, has an off road cycle path running parallel that takes you to the roundabout and offers crossing points to continue your journey along NCN 54 into Lichfield or left towards Fradley South.
This is the direction we often approach this route, over the little hump back bridge and then a good stretch of straight road, slightly up hill. You can see this road is well used by cyclists, these photos were taken in mid December.
As with any cycling infrastructure the choice to use it is yours. If you do you need to slow to take the first of several potentially sharp turns.
When we approach this with a large group the first turn is generally OK as the group has strung out over the last half mile. When the group is up on the path, volunteer marshals go along the road to be in position to block traffic up at the island to allow the group to cross the road further on.
Each of these turns are roughly 90 degrees and by this point the group is back together. Care needs to be taken with speed and enough room allowed to get everybody round without bumping into someone else.
Another turn then back onto the cycle path. Here I would say the correct decision is to take the cycle path with our group. The traffic on Wood End Lane is much faster with more lorries.
As the marshals are blocking the entrances to the roundabout and the lane on Gorse Lane to allow the crossing, my point is why not take the same positions and keep the riders on the road, not taking the cycle path, and allow the group to maintain speed and make the turn at the roundabout? The final manoeuvre onto the cycle path on Wood End Lane could then be taken single file at an angle more like 45 degrees. If infrastructure is there we should always ask the question is it in our best interests to use it? The choice is yours.