Where’s the Edge?

This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 17.

Edge reflectors in Groningen
Image as described adjacent

The County Council is increasingly building cycle tracks – shared with pedestrians – in rural areas. Frankly, we think these are poor value for money. However, they provide a useful link for some cyclists.

In rural areas, though, there are no street lights – especially as most of these paths end at the village boundaries. This makes them virtually unusable in the dark, even with bright cycle lights. If you have ever tried to use the Foxton to Harston or Barton to Cambridge City boundary paths after dark you’ll know that the verge and path are virtually indistinguishable, and car headlights cast misleading shadows even when they don’t blind you.

Might this work in the dark?
Image as described adjacent

County engineers say they have been unable to find a product that could mark the paths. And they refuse to paint a simple line in standard reflective paint because ‘drivers may confuse it with the edge of the road.’

Traffic engineers in more cycle-friendly cultures don’t have the same reservations. We found numerous examples of edge markings in Groningen last year.

White lines wouldn’t be ideal because edges of paths get overgrown, and would cover an edge line. So what is needed should be

  • Cheap
  • Hard to confuse with anything else on the road
  • Visible even through a covering of wild flowers

Here is one proposal. Given the Council’s inability to make progress on this one, we are writing to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions directly to ask permission to experiment with reflective paint in this or some other distinctive pattern, at, say, 8 m (25′) intervals.

David Earl