Saturday, January 14, 2023

A good idea?

 As someone who cycled for many years, I know the dangers facing cyclists on the open road. One of them is cars, vans or worst still lorries passing close by.  The draft can be unsettling  and put you at risk of falling off. The problem is most acute on fast busy roads or in congested town centres.

I have to say that the majority of Spanish drivers are very good when passing cyclists. They give a wide berth  - crossing into the opposite lane if necessary. 

The most recent measure introduced to protect vulnerable cyclists from passing vehicles is the cycle lane. 

Towns and cities have embraced the idea of cycle lanes with gusto, often to the ire of motorists. It must be very frustrating to lose a passing lane on a busy road to cyclists only to find they are nowhere to be seen. 


I assume that money, targeted to the construction of cycle lanes, was available from the regional government. Bigastro made a bid for a share of it and they were successful. 

The plan was to build the lane on the right hand side of Calle Joaquin Moya Martinez, one of the routes out of the town that takes you to the CV-95 in the direction of Torrevieja. 

There is already a short cycle lane on Calle Apatel that was built whist the Socialists were in power using Plan E money from the Government. Its usefulness though was negated by the fact that it only reached as far as Calle Andalucia. I can't say that I have seen anyone actually use that cycle lane. 

The new cycle lane was to be a more ambitious project. It was going to be wider, separated from the road with kerb stones and painted blue to make its presence clear. A similar cycle lane was constructed running alongside the CV-945 from just outside Los Montesionos to the CV-905 Crevillente-Torrevieja road. 

There are differences though between these two projects:

1. The CV-945 is a busy road with heavy traffic in both directions particularly at peak times. At those times it was impossible to pass cyclists giving them a wide berth.

2. There are a number of cyclists who use the route on a regular basis. In fact, you often see groups of cyclists riding together in a mini peloton. 

On the other hand:

1. Calle Joaquin Moya Martinez is only relatively busy at peak times. Without carrying out a traffic survey I can't say for sure but I'd guess the volume of traffic at any time is much less than that on the CV-945. 

2. Although there are a fair number of cyclists in Bigastro, I rarely see them in numbers on the roads into and out of the town. 

Of course none of this would matter if  Calle Joaquin Moya Martinez was a wide road in the first place. Following the construction of the cycle lane it is now much narrower. If you have to face a lorry coming in the opposite direction, it will be a tight squeeze. Two lorries going opposite ways would be practically impossible.  

The vast majority  of the projects that this Council have carried out have brought great improvements to the town. However, I'm not altogether sure that this is one of them. 


vv said...

Interesteing post, Keith. Although I have just turned 75 I still cycle 300 kms a week. I am getting slower but can still do the distances. Here in SE Hampshire, I would describe it as dangerous! I have been knocked off twice, once in 2016 and more recently in August 2022. The first incidnet left me with a permanently dislocated collar bone.

I have a Pinarello road bike in Guardamar and my wife has an electric bike. We are patrons of Gary and Lynn at Cyclogical in Quesada. It is a fantastic shop. My wife loves cycling in Spain but will not go near a cycle here. In general, IMO, the cycle paths are much better over there and the drivers are more considerate. There are some bad spots such as the road into Benijofar from Rojales where the traffic queues to get over the junction at the bottom of the hill (near Casas Manuel), but cycling over there is a pleasure compared to England.

England has become very ‘dog eat dog’ and the country is in a complete mess. There are some extremely aggressive drivers. I have had many very close calls. I have lobbied hard to get Hampshire CC to erect signs, like the ones in the Dolores area, which remind motorists to give cyclists 1.5 metres. But, they do not want to know and I would say it is down to money. Instead, we had Grant Shapps suggesting that cyclists should have a registration plate, compulsory insurance and be fined for breaking the speed limit!!

However, I do carry third party cycle insurance which is sensible in both countries if you go out cycling virtually every day. Gary (above) tells a story of a British customer who collided with a car and sustained a broken leg. He had no identification documents, let alone insurance. on him and it led to a lot of problems, I think. They managed to get an ambulance to him but I think he had to pay quite a big bill.

Just as an aside, you commented sometime ago about customs charges post Brexit. I was presented with a bill for £65 after buying a Garmin watch online from a company called ‘Deporvillage SL, based in Barcelona. My MP, the infamous Suella Braverman, was sent a strong letter because she is the most right wing of Brexiters and a prime mover in the disaster. She is unable to admit to me that Brexit is an act of stupidity and insists ‘we’ are 'taking back control’. As someone more witty than me said, she makes Priti Patel look like Mother Theresa. I never thought I would agree with someone like Michael Hesletine, but he is very eloquent on why ths country should be a member of the EU and I very much admire his intervention on this issue. I heard him give a brilliant speech in Parliament Square after one of the Brexit protest marches in London. Pat and I went on every one and elso the recent Rejoin march. We are passionate Euopeans and feel as if we have been mugged. The country is still bitterly divided.

I enjoy your blogging. Hope Pam is continuing to recover and all the best to you both.

David Taylor

Bigastroandbeyond said...


Many thanks for your comment. I'm impressed to hear that you can still cycle 300kms a week!

I hope that I haven't given the impression that I disapprove of cycle lanes. In the right places, they are a godsend to cyclists and motorists alike. Just not necessary on the roads around Bigastro which are narrow enough already without taking some away for cycle lanes that nobody uses.

I know the shop you mention in Quesada, it is close to Protea Wellness where I bought my hearing aids.

As you already know, I too am not a great fan of Brexit and have the same regard for Patel and Braverman as you.

Take care


vv said...

Thanks for responding, Keith. No, I did not get that impressions from your comment, which I thought was very balanced. And I think that if we all showed mutual respect for each other on the roads, then that would make a huge difference. There are cyclists who are not considerate as well as some motorists.

Your blog is always illuminating and I really admire the way you have integrated into the Bigastro community.

We go and watch CD Thader play football and there is a wonderful mixture of people in the crowd. It’s a very friendly club. The player/chairman is Lloyd Dummett, from Newcastle, who moved to Spain when he was a youngster and now runs an estate agency in Quesada. Nationality does not come into it really, we are all human beings.