LETTERS From Tim Thorne, chair CycleWight, Carisbrooke:
Mr Everson (CP letters, 02-11-12) asked why cyclists do not use the designated path alongside Fairlee Road, Newport.
The reason is that, at present, it does not meet the needs of many of them. Many cyclists, like drivers, want to get to their destination as quickly as possible; the present provision does not allow this.
Once you leave Newport it is very narrow, which means cyclists have great difficulty passing each other or pedestrians. It goes across numerous drives of houses, which gives a very uneven ride, as well as the inherent danger of cars leaving. The surface at the Racecourse behind the hedge is poor and then, finally, if you wish to go to East Cowes you have to cross two streams of very busy traffic.
Sadly, some years ago a proper cycle path was planned to go all the way to Wootton but it was prevented by land ownership issues.
If it ever did come about in the future I am sure there will be some who would still choose to use the road.
This will be because the track will not be for them as it would not fit their needs or go where they wish; just in the same way that some people will never use a bus or a bike when it would be better to do so.
Ultimately, it is all about choice. After all, I am sure that when people go to Wootton by car some will always go by Lushington Hill and some via Staplers.
From Dave Andrews, Ryde:
Not safe: I reply to Mr Everson’s letter regarding cyclists using Fairlee Road.
Cycling along the pavement is usually illegal, and with good reason; it is dangerous. Merely designating a pavement as a cycle path does not magically make it safe.
As someone who regularly commutes from Ryde to Newport by bicycle, I avoid using the pavement along Fairlee Road because it is narrow and affords insufficient room to safely pass pedestrians, particularly those walking in the same direction oblivious to my approach because of their personal stereo.
Furthermore, there are numerous residential drives out of which might appear a vehicle, unseen behind hedges and fences, risking at least an inconvenient wait while they find a gap in traffic to pull into the road or at worst a collision at cycling speed.
I fancy it is precisely because cyclists avoid using the pavement that there have not been significant numbers of accidents, which would most likely prompt the IW Council to review its designation as a cycle path.
I also drive a car at times along this stretch, and have found the road plenty wide enough to pass cyclists with little deviation. The main nuisance is not cyclists but the inevitable queue of other vehicles on the approach to Newport.
My route to work affords practically no provision for cycling, in places where such provision is really needed (Binstead Hill, Quarr Hill, Fishbourne traffic lights).
Sadly, those who make the decisions on cycleways never seek the view of those who are expected to use them.
Mr Everson likely includes the track parallel to the Racecourse. This is a sensible provision, provided it is kept clear of brambles and thorny hedge trimmings. If one sees a cyclist along the road, he has probably had his fill of punctures.