Close to where I live there is just one cross country cycle leisure route that mimics the best farmland routes that I found on my recent tour in Flanders.
From the Ottignies suburb of Mousty there is a former farm track that has now been covered by a perfectly smooth surface to make a car free cycle route, signposted to our town of Lasne, seven kilometres away.
It runs up across the open farmland with wide open views that I thoroughly enjoy, especially on these late summer evenings when the sun is low and yellow.
After winding through a few cottages we come to a small valley.
For some unimaginable reason the planners decided to go straight down, so steeply that they then had to insert barriers which theoretically might stop unsuspecting cyclists shooting out without warning onto a Route Nationale (main road) at the bottom.
However as there is no indication that the RN is there, why would you stop? Assuming that you can ride down at all. I will just about ride down it on a day when the path is clear and dry. Which isn’t very often, because it is tree lined and usually covered in leaves or damp, so I have to walk.
From the bottom looking up it is just possible to believe that the barriers are there to aid pedestrians in fixing their climbing ropes before tackling the ascent. It certainly isn’t rideable except for the most competent of mountain bikers.
So at some point, somewhere, somebody thought it was a good idea to make a cycle route from a slippery descent with tricky chicanes and a blind entrance onto a main road. Even when they had an alternative which could take about an additional kilometre and connect to the rest of their network, actually bypassing the valley completely.
Given that the commune of Ottignies Louvain-la-Neuve is actually one of the more cycle friendly municipalities round here I say it again “what were they thinking?”
I’ll probably say something I’ll regret, so I shall keep quiet! 🙂
Oh go on….you know you want to!
We have just tandemed the Sustrans Way of the Roses, and encountered similar obstacles….eg. kissing gates which are impossible for tandems.
It hadn’t even crossed my mind how I would tackle this one on a tandem or trike.
You would need the skills of a stunt rider to even think about it, but I think you would be walking.
The designers must have had some fun testing that! I can just imagine the safety audit when they cycled it -wheeeeee!!! But I recognize the concept: we have some of these in Bavaria, too, and not just to protect cyclists from big, bad trunk roads! Sometimes we even have the more lethal variant with chains (very hard to see at night, and very problematic for disabled people!) rather than solid barriers (typically in towns, rather than in rural contexts like this one.) Or we get metal barriers like these ones, but minus the reflective paint/tape …
Sometimes I stay on-road rather than weaving and wobbling and risking having to put a foot down into a mucky puddle or a pile of snow to I thread my way past silly barriers and join a “facility” that will likely be as much of a pain to leave as it was to enter.
Oooh – chains. That could really hurt.
I guess its kind of sad just how widespread terrible design is, even in countries that really should know better.
Thanks for reading the blog.
Chains could do more than hurt. From last week’s news:
That really is a sad story, I feel so bad for the club-mates.
I once had to console a man whose friend died on a club ride, one of my worst feelings.
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