A rush hour experiment begins in July with the opening up of a new part time cycling lane on the M1. Cyclists will be able to use the nearside lane, traditionally called ‘the slow lane’ between the hours of 7.00am and 9.00am and 4.00pm and 6.30pm.
Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond said, “With petrol costs on the increase we are trying to encourage more cyclists on to our roads and also to ease congestion. The new cycle lane will help to address these issues and we hope to roll the scheme out across the motorway network over the coming months.”
But transport organisations are unsure that the scheme will work. A spokesman for the RAC said, “The rush hour tends to be the busiest time on our motorways so there could be some conflict between cyclists and other road users, especially lorries and the emergency services."
Similarly a spokesman for the National Hauliers Association said, “There’s been no f***ing consultation over this and we are not going to be held f***ing responsible for the number of splatterings that are likely to occur.”
A similar scheme was undertaken in Mexico on 1st May 2008 and ended on 2nd May 2008. Although evaluations have yet to be published it was hailed as a great success by the outgoing Transport Minister from his prison cell in Mexico City.
Cycling organisations in the UK welcome the move although they have sent a list of reservations to the Minister. Top of the list was that there should be an increase in toilet facilities as cyclists will be commuting an average distance of 120 miles a day. Another concern was the imposition of the £3 per mile toll which the Ministry has suggested as a fair rate for the use of the motorway.
The lane will be opened on 1 July by former Olympic champion James Cracknell and Professor Dan Crane, one of the UK’s top neurosurgeons.