Cyclist's view of Cabstand

I REALLY didn t want to write this letter. However I feel I have no choice.

I REALLY didn't want to write this letter. However I feel I have no choice. A lot of people have urged me to do so. Like everyone else I really want to forget about the whole sorry saga of the Cabstand Traffic Lights.

I always lumped the issue in with some of the other recent Portishead glories of opposition to an asylum seekers interview centre or more recently opposition to a children's home near the Lake Grounds.

I was one of those who wasn't bothered by the cabstand lights - travelling through by bike or bus I reckon there was on average a 30 second wait - at certain times it seemed unnecessary but it was a fraction of a delay compared, say, to travelling through Bristol. The key problem being the growth of car usage and people's unwillingness to adapt their lifestyle. But at least it was a safe system.

So in the days since the lights have been turned off and a 'peaceful revolution' has swept all before it I've had to rub my eyes. Reading the press coverage and hearing both the self-serving, spineless, fork-tongued councillors and those who believe the car rules (and nothing should get in their way) I wonder if I'm living in a parallel universe.

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There's all this talk about how everything is now perfect and it's a victory for commonsense and decency etc, etc.

Well let's just look at how things are now from the point of view of the three main types of users (I'm leaving motorbikes out).

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Firstly the pedestrian. We are told the pedestrian now has the right of way - at least we're told drivers are heeding the signs and will stop to allow those on foot to cross. Sorry but that's not true. I'd say maybe one car in five will stop. Definitely not safe. Secondly the cyclist. A cyclist going down Nore Road to the junction of the Cabstand and planning to cross to the safe haven of the cycle path has to take in five items of information before proceeding. There could be pedestrians crossing. Then the two roads to the right coming from the High Street - partially obstructed from view, one stream of traffic going up Nore Road the other heading past to the Marina? Then further ahead two more traffic streams coming from the left, one turning up Nore Road, the other going to the High Street or up Wyndham Way. So the cyclist has to wait for all five to be clear or wait for cars to give way (very confusing for everyone) or risk inching out into the traffic. It's a nightmare situation. The traffic lights were probably quicker for the cyclist and infinitely safer.

Finally the villain of the piece, the car. Ironically it seems both from observing the reality of many near misses and horns blaring plus talking to a lot of drivers that now avoid the Cabstand it's not now all sweetness and light for drivers despite what the papers and letter writers tell us. There seems to be a climate of fear or embarrassment to speak out.

The solution? I can think of two that would probably satisfy most parties. Switch the traffic lights on for busy periods - safe and fair for all users. Or put in as many zebra crossings as necessary (not just one!) while creating a safe route of cycle lanes (I'll leave that one to the planners) and sorting out priorities and rights of ways (and clearly signposting them). Then maybe the whole issue can be put to rest.


Mendip Rd, Portishead

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