Saturday, 6 June 2020
It’s high time we allowed people to cycle along motorways. I’m being completely serious because we’re spending all of this money on building road space and yet drivers won’t stick to these motorways. Therefore it’s time to allow cycling along them.
Now I’ve got your attention and created outrage amongst the people who don’t bother to read the detail, I’ll explain myself. In the UK it is against the law to cycle on a motorway (known as special roads in law) as well as there being a ban on walking, horse riding, riding small mopeds and learner drivers and so on; but there are motorways where people are allowed to cycle, even though it’s only over short sections.
The Severn Bridge which carries the M48 over River Severn between Bristol and Chepstow allows walking and cycling because it was built wide enough to provide a shared-use cycle track on each side;
The Severn Bridge carries NCN4 across the Severn where it links up with local roads in the communities of Aust and Bulwark. These communities are just under 5km apart which makes it a very easy distance to cycle.
The Grade I listed bridge was built in 1966 and features cantilevered sections on each side of the main structure which carries the shared-use path as can be seen below in this image from the University of Bristol;
As you can see, the cantilevered sections are attached to the main box structure forming the traffic deck and as such, are not part of the load carrying arrangements for the bridge; although the cantilevers in themselves do of course add weight to be carried.
When you think about it, the development of the bridge with shared-use cycle tracks made perfect sense in terms of the distance between settlements and the opportunity for people to cycle. The newer crossing on the diverted M4 to the south (the M4 used to cross the Severn Bridge) is a bit longer between settlements, but no opportunity has been provided for people cycling (or walking, despite the distance).