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Britain’s most dangerous cycle lane will be changed again in bid to stop pedestrians falling victim to optical illusion – after repainting it red didn’t work


The ‘most dangerous cycle lane’ in the UK will be changed again in a bid to fix road markings that keep causing pedestrians to trip and fall.

The route through Keynsham High Street in Somerset was blamed for injuring 100 people in its first two years as critics said it created an ‘optical illusion’ with the kerb.

The town near Bristol made national headlines last year after complaints about the lane went viral. The outrage prompted the cycle path to be repainted red.

Despite tweaks to the design, Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) still receives an average of almost three complaints a month about the cycle lane, a new report reveals.

The council today confirmed that it will change the line markings in hope of addressing the problem, following stage four of a road safety audit there.

The route through Keynsham High Street in Somerset was blamed for injuring 100 people in its first two years as critics said it created an 'optical illusion' with the kerb

The route through Keynsham High Street in Somerset was blamed for injuring 100 people in its first two years as critics said it created an ‘optical illusion’ with the kerb

The town near Bristol made national headlines last year after complaints about the lane went viral. The outrage prompted the cycle path to be repainted red

The town near Bristol made national headlines last year after complaints about the lane went viral. The outrage prompted the cycle path to be repainted red

Safety auditors auditors concluded that ‘the 50mm height kerb between the cycleway and footway is not clearly visible’, meaning people are stepping along the kerb and misjudging the height difference.

The council has now agreed to replace the solid white line marking at the edge of the cycle lane with a broken white line, to ‘better delineate it from the kerb’. 

It will also install double yellow lines adjacent to the kerb between the cycle lane and carriageway, which it says should ‘provide an additional cue to pedestrians as they cross the highway’.

BANES said it will ‘undertake the works overnight subject to weather conditions’, to avoid disruption to business and traffic during the day. It did not specify the date for the overnight works.

Councillor Paul Roper, cabinet member for economic and cultural sustainable development, said: ‘This mitigation should make the change in levels clearer to pedestrians and prevent further trips and falls. 

‘We are grateful for people’s patience while the audit was undertaken and the road safety report compiled, which we are acting on.’

The 103-page report, dated December 2023, has been published on the council’s website. Reflecting on the number of complaints filed to the authority, it stated: ‘A total of 25 incidents of trips/falls were made in March and April 2022, before reducing to an average of 3 per month (ranging from 1 to 6 incidents per month) in the 17-month period thereafter.

‘Changes were implemented in August 2022 to provide a red coloured surfacing within the cycle lane (previously black asphalt). In the next 14 months there were 41 incidents of trips/falls, an average of 2.9 per month.’

It added that ‘whilst the number of incidents has clearly reduced since opening, it remains an ongoing issue with a relatively consistent rate of incidents per month’. The auditors said the scheme was designed according to guidance, and they were ‘not aware of similar issues at other [similar] schemes’. 

Safety auditors auditors concluded that 'the 50mm height kerb between the cycleway and footway is not clearly visible', meaning people are stepping along the kerb and misjudging the height difference

Safety auditors auditors concluded that ‘the 50mm height kerb between the cycleway and footway is not clearly visible’, meaning people are stepping along the kerb and misjudging the height difference

The council has now agreed to replace the solid white line marking at the edge of the cycle lane with a broken white line, to 'better delineate it from the kerb'

The council has now agreed to replace the solid white line marking at the edge of the cycle lane with a broken white line, to ‘better delineate it from the kerb’

However, their report acknowledged: ‘The 50mm height kerb between the cycleway and footway is not clearly visible (and further reduced at night)…

‘From the incident descriptions provided, it is clear that a large proportion of [falls] are related to pedestrians walking along, rather than crossing, High Street, whether that be because they are stepping around other pedestrians or they simply have not recognised the presence of the kerb.’

They initially recommended applying stick-on corduroy tactile paving along the kerb edge to highlight the level change. However, in a comment provided in the report, the council’s design team said this solution ‘may not meet heritage objectives and are likely to lead to long term maintenance issues’.

Various other alternatives were suggested before the conclusion: ‘The design team recommend trialling the lining interventions prior to any other physical measures.

‘This has been proposed to tackle a perceived visual illusion caused by the existing continuous marking which is anecdotally causing some people to mistake the white line for a kerb, thus creating confusion with levels for some users.

‘Whilst the design team and safety auditors have not identified this during site inspections, it is a low cost intervention and may clarify the situation for some users and has no significant obvious negative impacts..’

Locals, wanting the lane scrapped, previously recounted their experiences of coming to harm there with MailOnline. 

One of the first people injured after the route was installed in March 2022 was Mary Richmond, 71, who broke her shoulder in two places after tripping on the kerb.

Other pedestrians in the town have lost teeth, twisted ankles or fractured elbows.

Maisie Cliff, 23, manager of Grounded coffee shop on the High Street, said last month: ‘When the cycle way first opened there were falls virtually every day, with many young people being caught out as well as the elderly.

BANES will also install double yellow lines adjacent to the kerb between the cycle lane and carriageway, which it says should 'provide an additional cue to pedestrians as they cross the highway'

BANES will also install double yellow lines adjacent to the kerb between the cycle lane and carriageway, which it says should ‘provide an additional cue to pedestrians as they cross the highway’

‘It has happened to me, I tripped once going up the kerb when I was taking the money to the Post Office. I knew it was there but I just wasn’t concentrating.

‘Now when people fall it tends to be the elderly.’

Another local said: ‘I fell into the road last year, cutting my knee, twisting my ankle and ripping my jeans. The council were not very helpful or even asked if I was ok. They did suggest that I use the crossing next time.’

One resident added: ‘I tripped but manage to get my balance. Don’t know whether it was the kerb or cycle lane.’

A local claimed injuries on the lane are a ‘daily occurrence pretty much’, adding that they have ‘seen some pretty nasty falls’.

Another person said they had been pushing a wheelchair when they nearly fell.

They said: ‘You just can’t judge the step especially if you are distracted a really poor design.’



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