Cycle route is a safety issue

I read your report about congestion in Bakewell and the impact the proposed cycle route will have on the town with interest (Matlock Mercury – February 23, 2012). There is no doubt that this new route will bring much to the area in terms of tourism and other economic benefits, but has anyone given any serious consideration to road safety issues?

Bakewell highlights the problem of congestion with traffic and in particular HGVs. So spare a thought for Darley Bridge where the cycle route is also planned. I suspect that most of the community will be unaware of this as there has been little publicity or consultation locally.

The village is well known for its problems with HGVs en route to Enthoven’s but now Derbyshire County Council plan to add thousands of cyclists into the road network without a thought for road safety issues. Some villagers would say “no change there then”.

The plan, as I understand it, is for the cycle route to pass over the bridge into the village and turning into the Gated Road towards Oker, then Matlock. Cyclists taking this route towards Matlock will simply have to negotiate the bridge alongside HGVs.

A challenge in itself but it is undoubtedly safer to ride in this direction than the other.

The biggest problem is cyclists coming out of the Gated Road and turning right out of the village towards Rowsley. Cyclists will be forced to turn right at the junction of the Gated Road with the B5057. This junction is right in front of Waters Transport entrance and cyclists will be forced to wait in the gateway of Waters, taking care to watch for vehicles leaving the yard behind them and those coming over the bridge wishing to enter the yard at the very point where the cyclists will be.

Has anyone actually inspected this junction to consider road safety issues? If they do then they will see that turning right out of the Gated Road is extremely dangerous. HGVs, buses, vans and cars, travelling into the village are hidden from view at that point until they reach the brow of the bridge (only a matter of yards from the junction). HGVs from Enthoven’s and other vehicles driving north through the village appear suddenly at this point from around the tight bend in the middle of the village. The visibility to the left is so restricted that vehicles can only be seen for a matter of 1 or 2 seconds before they reach the junction. And even according to the county council’s own assessment the “average” speed at this point is just short of 30mph, far too fast to ensure the safety of cyclists or pedestrians. Imagine all this whilst having to look behind you for vehicles emerging from Waters as well.

I regularly cross the road at this point on foot when walking my dog and it is the most dangerous point in the village due to extremely limited visibility, speed of traffic and the number of HGVs. It’s scary! It is essential to keep looking in all directions and most importantly listening. (It is essential to listen for vehicles otherwise they will be upon you before you see them.) Then when you think it’s safe, run as fast as you can across the road. Just imagine a family of two adults and two children doing that on bikes. It just doesn’t bear thinking about what could happen.

And once on the bridge that is not the end of it. The bridge will only safely allow an HGV to pass on its own but time and time again, impatient hauliers headed for Enthoven’s continue to cross when cars are already crossing in the opposite direction, forcing cars onto the narrow footpath and pinning cars against the bridge wall.

Believe me this does happen regularly, I witnessed it again in the last few days and yes I can tell you which firm was the guilty party.

I would make it clear that the local HGV drivers are very courteous and never create this problem but it is those that come from other parts of the country or from Europe that are the offenders. But will these offending HGVs simply do the same with a bunch of cyclists?

So Derbyshire County Council, before you finish steamrollering this project through at all cost, please address this very serious safety issue. Stop ignoring the problem that HGVs create in the village. Open your eyes and start thinking about road safety. Stop dismissing a relief road out of hand. You have a duty to ensure you do your utmost to make the community safe and adding cyclists into the mix of an existing problem that you have not yet solved is only going to make a very serious problem worse. And Derbyshire Dales District Council, don’t just pass the plans for this as you normally do, take some responsibility and ensure that road safety is put at the highest priority.

Get out of your cosy offices, councillors and local government officers, and see the problem for yourselves. Take a look on the ground, you may surprise yourselves and actually see the problem for yourselves. I have no problem with cyclists or giving them their own route, but I can’t stand back ignoring road safety concerns, unlike our esteemed local government just to fulfil someone’s precious dream. HGVs and pedestrians do not mix. HGVs, pedestrians and cyclists definitely don’t mix. Listen and learn.

Geoff Gee

Darley Bridge