This is about turning right at crossroads, particularly from the A505 West Street (viewed from camera) into the A5 High Street South (right in photo). This might seem to be a straight forward thing, even on a bicycle but I can tell you, sometimes it borders on being suicidal in downtown Dunstable.
These crossroads are very historic and date back to Roman times. They are the Ickneild Way (now the A505) and Watling Street (now the A5). These days it’s generally pretty busy and we certainly need the traffic lights to regulate the flow of traffic and keep us all safe. That’s all very well but I bet those Romans never had the hassle cyclists get in these modern days.
Even driving in my car, it’s tricky making a right turn from West Street into the High Street South. It’s not too bad if you’re first in the queue as I always get ready to put my foot down the moment the lights starting changing to Green – I zoom ahead as fast as I can and this gets me across before the on-coming cars start get moving. I have this down to a fine art in the car but what’s it like on a bicycle? My quick, easy answer is “madness, suicidal, dangerous…..”. You get the drift?
My last experience
There was a sports car, roof down, in front of me as I got ready to pedal my way out into no-man’s land as soon as the light turned green. Thankfully for me the sports car didn’t accelerate fast enough and got stuck in the middle, giving way to the on-coming traffic. I was right behind it, being sheltered from the traffic by this well positioned car. While we were there in the middle, the lights turned RED and traffic started moving from other directions. We (sports car and me) didn’t stand a chance; we couldn’t move.
The lights turned again but still not giving right-of-way to us (stuck in the middle) but we both decided to move anyway, against the red light. Total madness and badly timed lights.
The timing of these traffic lights is poor for the motorist and even worse for the poor old cyclist, yet again.
How to deal with this appalling situation
- The powers-that-be probably didn’t think of cyclists with the traffic light timing, or if they did, they probably thought they would use the Pelican crossing and walk. This is the safest way. I say that because I don’t want you complaining you followed my lead and then had an accident.
- If you are possibly mad and foolhardy, like me, and want to give this a go, wear something bright so you can be easily seen
- Take comfort in remembering traffic is normally travelling slowly across this junction (15-20mph)
- Hold your nerve, be confident. Hold your hand out to stop traffic if necessary, look them in the eye and be determined. Do this even if you don’t have right of way at that precise moment
- Challenge Council Officers, Town Councillors to cycle with you so they can see how ridiculous this junction is for cyclists. Remind them cyclists have as much right to use this road / junction as any other vehicle.