Luton Dunstable Busway Wish List

The Luton Dunstable Busway with its cycle track has now settled down and the surface has improved.  I see it as a really positive feature of our town and it certainly brings alternative transport options.  However, it’s not perfect and here are a few of my ‘wish list’ thoughts:

1. Signage

Station concourse with no signs showing which way cyclists can go

Station concourse with no signs showing which way cyclists can go

Two points here.  When you get to the Luton end of the cycle track, where do you go?  There are no signs showing how to connect with the nearby NCN6 which is a lovely cycle path and goes to Harpenden.  What would it take for the Busway cycle track to become a National Cycle Network route?  Cycling through the Railway Station concourse (is that too grand a word for Luton?) is something I do and often wonder if it’s allowed as I mingle with buses and coaches.

Luton end, no signs to NCN 6 or anywhere

Luton end, no signs to NCN 6 or anywhere

The second signage point is the complete lack of anything on the Busway itself for cyclists and walkers.  It would be welcome and helpful to have a few signs showing how far it is to various points, Luton, Dunstable, the hospital etc.  There are signs for the bus passengers but these are not visible for those using the cycle track.

2. Safety barriers

I have blogged, moaned and complained about the Hatters Way stretch in Luton, especially the narrow part by the bridge support.  I just don’t understand why Luton Borough Council cannot erect a barrier or a fence of some kind to prevent cyclists falling on to the busway here.  You can see in the photograph below there is a fence further along but that it where the track is much wider.  All they have done is paint a yellow line along the edge and put up some ‘give way’ signs – while these are useful touches, they do not address the problem.  This is the most risky part of the entire track in my view.  Overall I think the fences along Hatters Way are not for the benefit of cyclists and unless there is some technical reason preventing this, I’d say fixing this should be a priority.

Hatters Way - unsatisfactory squeeze

Hatters Way – unsatisfactory squeeze

3. Access points

One of the points of ridicule has been the A frame barriers which are difficult and awkward to negotiate.  These are apparently designed to allow legitimate users to pass through and keep motorcyclists out.  The trouble is, these simply do not work and annoy people.

Barriers do not stop motorcyclists

Barriers do not stop motorcyclists

In fairness to Luton Borough Council, they are looking at modifying some of these to make them more user-friendly but there is still a bigger issue.  Comical stories of cars finding themselves on the Busway with flat tyres has caused much local interest and at one point LBC was renting an illuminated sign (said to cost £600 a week) to discourage lost motorists from entering.  In spite of that, you have some entrances such as Great Northern Road, in Dunstable, where I have seen a motorcyclist (a scallywag without a helmet) go past the car trap and up the slope on the right, straight onto the cycle track.  It was so easy for him to do it.


"Motorcycles to the right and please take care"

“Motorcycles to the right and please take care”

We note also that the construction of a further path or cycle track is underway.  This runs from the end of Half Moon Lane in Dunstable through to joint the cycle track near the Jeans Way bus stop.  This will be helpful for a number of people.  Hopefully lessons learnt to date can be applied here?

So we have all these awkward barriers to pass through and I’ll be pleased to see how this is dealt with in the future.

4. Surface

The quality of the surface is what people have moaned about the most and I completely agree.  However, it has greatly improved over the winter and only a few sections remain where it is unacceptably stony.

5. Some information please!

I think there are some points of interest for cycle track users and it wouldn’t hurt if some suitable signs were erected.  These could include saying something about the various sculptures, where new trees have been planted, the Site of Special Scientific Interest of Blow’s Downs and there must be some on the Luton side as well.  There are many points of interest, especially on the Dunstable side.

You could go a little further and have a Welcome sign too.  Either to the Busway itself or to Luton and Dunstable towns and perhaps a diagram or illustrated map showing how it all fits together.  All of these smaller touches help finish off the project and bring a little connection with local people and sense of communal ownership.  Giving credit to the many volunteers who have planted trees and hedges would probably be appreciated by those who have given their time.

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8 Responses to Luton Dunstable Busway Wish List

  1. Adam Bell says:

    Once the inner ring road project is completed, apparently there’ll then be changes to Guildford Street probably in 2015, with NCN6 being routed along there (rather than George Street at the moment). Earlier than that, the council also intend to let cyclists officially go through Station Road, so eventually it will all connect up, and hopefully they’ll put up signs as well.

    There’s a lot of improvements required such as getting rid of the A-frame barriers and improving accessibility before Sustrans would consider making the Busway cycle path part of the National Network.

    There is an information board by Jeans Way, but you’re right that more should be done to signpost features generally.

  2. Stephen Lawrence says:

    The width of the cycle path under that bridge is simply outrageous. I would have thought that council members were in danger of being sued for an injury claim – and perhaps if they realised that would be the case they might come up with a safer solution, and pronto.

    • doug says:

      I might raise this with the Luton & Dunstable Cycle Forum in their meeting this evening if there is a suitable opportunity. I agree it’s outrageous and I still feel a bit nervous cycling this section, even now!

  3. Simon. says:

    Not sure if anyone will read this more than a year after the original post but I am trying to get some information on the suitability of the Luton and Dunstable Busway cycle path for road bikes. A lot of the information I have found suggests this is a limestone gravel path; how does this affect braking distances and cornering, etc… I’m planning a commuting route from Bucks, through Dunstable and on to Luton. I’m used to London streets so am a little nervous of the comments regarding the busway cycle path; would it be quicker and safer, particularly in the winter months, to use NCN Route 6 instead?
    Thanks in advance for any useful response.

    • doug says:

      Hi Simon
      The surface has improved considerably. I use 700×25 tyres and there’s no problem, although a bit gravelly in places where you could skid if you jammed the brakes on too hard. Please don’t let this put you off.
      In winter the rough surface is great in icy conditions.
      Hope this helps, glad you found my blog!

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