A combination of busy-busy and not particularly inviting weather means that my cycling outings of late have tended to follow the well-worn groove of down to the papershop and back with a bit of down to Bigtown and back thrown in for good measure. All on generaly lovely roads and scenic and everything but perhaps becoming a tiny bit routine. And then, coming back from Bigtown the other day, I realised that not only was it a gorgeous crisp and bright autumn afternoon, but I had time to take the alternative route home: down the road which used to be Big A Road and is now a half-forgotten appendix, an ox-bow lake of tarmac left over when they bypassed Bigtown and made some dual carriageway. Purely by accident, this has turned into one of the best bits of cycling infrastructure in the county
It starts off as a full-dress A-road, only without the traffic, except for visitors to the new not-really-farmshop and ripoff shortbread emporium just off the roundabout (I mean, seriously, charging entrance to a ‘nature trail’?).
Not long afterwards, it narrows and occasionally you get close enough to its replacement to see what fun you’re missing dodging lorries on a dual carriageway (deliciously, the old road even skips the worst of the hills). As the road is effectively a dead end, by now bikes only really have to share it with the few residents living on the road (one of whom was busy with a leaf blower as I passed, blowing the leaves off his lawn and into piles on the road. That’s how much traffic there is).
There’s much fevered, if necessarily abbreviated, discussion on twitter at the moment on the merits of traffic reduction versus building separated tracks to encourage cycling. Obviously I’m all for traffic reduction in general, whether it encourages cycling or not. But it’s rare you can manage quite this much traffic reduction except by building a whole nother road.
Then again, when you come to the bit that’s just for bikes, as opposed to even just one or two cars, you can see why folk are sceptical of what separated dedicated bike tracks might be like (and this is the wide part).
I think that tells us fairly clearly which is the more valued mode of transport around here…