Let's take this recent example at Old Market. At first sight it appears innocuous, a crude attempt to signify some token priority for cyclists. Sensible people just ignore it as they go about their business, as we see from the picture below. However not everyone is sensible. Some motorists might think it safe to follow the lane markings. Some cyclists might think these markings have some authority and offer them some protection. This would be a grave error. Anyone imagining that a cycle lane offers some kind of a safe haven is seriously at risk.
To lead cyclists to the inside of a tight bend on the inside of two traffic lanes that can barely be accommodated themselves, where the unaware cyclist is very likely to get squeezed on the corner, is, let's face it, downright irresponsible. It's not good enough to assume that everyone will have the good sense to realise the markings are mere token gestures which should be ignored. It will only take one novice cyclist who naively presumes that these markings offer some talismanic protection and we will have yet another cyclist on their way to hospital.
In the instance pictured below the bus driver had the presence of mind to ignore the lane markings and straddle the two lanes to give the cyclist adequate clearance. But is it realistic to expect bus drivers working long hours in difficult circumstances to remain so alert and conscientious? Is it really too much to expect that road markings should only be installed by competent people and actually deliver a safe and practical arrangement for sharing the road?
Thanks to the recent action of the Police in pushing back the boundaries of what is considered an appropriate area for Criminal Damage prosecutions, we at last have a remedy for this sort of nonsense. We know the people responsible, we know their names, we know where they work. The evidence is there on our streets, not in chalk which might easily be washed or worn away but in permanent and hard-wearing materials that can only be removed at considerable cost to the local taxpayer.
Green Bristol Blog says enough is enough. The culprits need to be taught a lesson. Our streets are not provided as blank canvasses for them to indulge in their childish markings. Only responsible and competent people with an understanding of the delicate 'territorial' relationship between different road users should be allowed to apply such street markings. Criminal Damage? - bring it on!