The Cyclist and the Roadworks
On my bike, I often find it a challenge to make it through stretches of roadworks within the allotted timeframe. The type of situation I'm talking about, is where the entire road is dug up and only a narrow single lane is open in one direction of travel, the traffic along it managed by a streetlight at each end. More often than not, it seems that even when I take off immediately, as soon as my light turns green, by the time I get through the cars at the other end already have the green light to start in the opposite direction.
Now, in theory, there is no reason this should be happening. The speed limit at entrypoint is 15km/h (just under 10mph), which I am certainly managing on my bike - I should not be any slower than motorised traffic.
The possibility that immediately occurred to me, is that the traffic light functions on a sensor. It senses when a car is still going through the single travel lane, but not a bike?
But later I realised that couldn't be it, as I've also been in situations with a colonnade of cars behind me, and still by the time we all reach the other end of the roadworks the vehicles on the other side already have the green light.
It was a mystery, until recently I found myself traveling through some roadworks in a car. Despite the 15km/h sign prominently displayed, the drivers in front of me were doing 55km/h. And judging by the screech of brakes when I attempted to actually follow the speed limit, I was expected to do the same.
It would appear, then, that the timing of the streetlights regulating the roadworks traffic can conflict with the posted speed limit - so that it may actually be impossible to travel through the single file stretch of roadworks at 15km/h, and make it before the cars at the other end get the green light.
I should say that I have experienced this inconsistency not only in Ireland (Ulster, both sides of the border), but also back as a cyclist in New England, USA. It is a worrying discrepancy, as it means the cyclist risks a head-on collision with oncoming traffic when traveling at ordinary bicycle speed.
We all know that roads are not exactly optimised for non-motorised vehicles. It should come as no surprise that roadworks are no exception. Nevertheless I believe the issue deserves some attention - especially in areas where flood-damage has made roadworks a common occurrence this year.
As a cyclist, have you encountered problems with roadworks? How do you deal with them safely?