Myself and some of the people in the Timsbury Cycle Group has been writing to BANES and various parish councillors – Timsbury, Corston, Marksbury, and Compton Dando to try and get some help for vunerable road users for the works that will affect the Marksbury dual carriageway.
Adam asked me to write a piece about it so here goes.
Hopefully many of you have experienced ridden the A39 Marksbury dual carrisgeway in rush hour. Its pretty horrible, however it is the most direct route to get from Marksbury to Keynsham. Many cyclists who commute to Keynsham and Bristol ride through Marksbury, then have to brave the dual carriageway for about half a mile to then turn off to Keynsham.
The dual carriageway is a 70 mph speed limit, so you often have a speed differential of 50mph+ between bicycles and cars/vans/lorries. If someone decides to punish pass you. It is utterly terrifying.
Should a driver be distracted by their mobile phone and not see a cyclist, I don’t think it will end well for the cyclist.
At peak rush hour however, this dual carriageway grinds to a halt, and often a bicycle is the fastest way to proceed along it.
BANES is proposing to adjust the junction at the Two-headed man, to include two lanes. I quote “peak time queues will be substantially reduced. Cutting the queues will speed up journey times, reduce emissions and alleviate pressure on minor roads which currently experience rat running.”
Over the years I have written to BANES, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Timsbury Councillors about how I have been seeing more and more cyclists using the dual carriageway. I’ve seen children cycling down it.
I thought with the plans for this junction and how it will speed up journey times, the council would surely have considered the knock-on effect on vulnerable road users. I wrote to them again. I was wrong.
BANES keep telling me its “out of scope”. Even though changing the junction will affect the speed of traffic, and turning the road into two lanes will surely mean more danger and the continued difference in speed between bicycles and vehicles.
Anyway, myself and other Timsbury cycle group members and also Somer Valley CC have been writing to as many councillors as we can think of to get at least some kind of safety consideration for vulnerable road users along that stretch. We’ve written to BANES, Marksbury, Compton Dando and Timsbury councillors, plus a councillor in the Chew Valley Area who rides the junction each day.
Ideally there would be money for putting the dual carriageway on a road diet. There are several hundred metres of unused pavement that could be slightly widened and made dual use.
The huge central reservation could be slimmed down to make the road usable for cars and bicycles to be separated completely.
We’ve been told again. There is no money. And the dual carriageway is “out of scope”.
So, it feels like we are clutching at straws. I’ve asked for at least some signage telling drivers to watch out for cyclists and to share the lane. I don’t think we will get any, even though the junction is costing £500,000 to alter. They won’t even pay for signs. It is quite depressing to be faced with such an attitude, especially as the councils of Bristol and South Gloucester have a much more cycle-friendly approach.
I just hope I am wrong and nobody gets seriously injured or killed along that stretch.