Cycling on the motorway is illegal. Yet, you can’t help but look at the road some times and think that looks appealing. For a start, motorways have a hard shoulder lane that provides about 12 feet of clearance between yourself and the cars. This is far more than any cycle lane. They are often the shortest distance between two points and also they tend to cut through hills rather than go over them.
I’m not the first person to think this. When the Kenyan cycling team arrived in England they spotted an amazing looking blue line on the map that would make a great cycle route. It turned out to be the M61.
On the first day they were not caught but then when they cycled for the second day the police stopped them. Apparently at the time they were doing around 40 mph and appeared quite happy and careless.
Sam Williams, a cycling adventurer, decided the best route through Serbia, avoiding pot holes and slow winding roads, was the motorway. He started cycling on the motorway and eventually approached a toll booth. While he was considering his options he was approached by someone who worked there and was asked “Nis?”. Sam just nodded and the guy let him through.
He managed to pick up some good speed and was enjoying the motorway route wondering why no one does this more often. At the second toll booth he was told it was illegal and normally would face a fine. When he asked the officers where to go from here they just pointed him to continue along the motorway road.
Well, from a health and safety perspective I guess the motorway could be a very dangerous place for a cyclist. For a start when coming off the motorway there is some tough junctions to manoeuvre. Also with the high speeds cars are travelling at any collision would definitely be deadly. But then is it more dangerous than some of the A roads people use? Where they are overtaken far too close by careless motorists.
The best solution would be to expand the cycle path network along the motorway route to provide a barrier between motorists and cars. This would then provide a quick direct route that is safe from vehicles. Of course considerations would also need to be made at junctions to allow for cyclist access. I’m sure this is done in some places.
Would you cycle along the motorway?
Image source: Kevin Steinhardt
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.