Active travel charity Sustrans has said that facilities like the Bristol Bath Railway path are “not the place for reckless speed cycling” after a 9-year-old boy sustained a broken collar bone in a collision on the extremely popular shared-use route.
Sustrans is discussing with the local council and path managers how the code of conduct can be better promoted after the father of Theo Delves-Broughton wrote to the organisation to call for better safety measures on the path.
According to the Bath Chronicle’s Laura Trem, Theo sustained a broken collar bone when he and an adult rider collided.
Theo was riding with his dad Nic, mum Emma and sister Ava, seven when they encountered two pedestrians on the path. Theo pulled out to overtake them and rode into the path of the oncoming rider, who Nic Delves-Broughton said was travelling “way too fast”.
Both Theo and the other rider came off their bikes in the collision. Theo’s family took him to the Royal United Hospital where doctors found he had broken his collarbone. The condition of the other rider, who stopped and was “very apologetic”, is not known.
Mr Delves-Broughton has written to Sustrans calling for better safety measures on the path, including warning signs to encourage people to slow down and take more care, and marshals at busy times.
Sustrans area manager Jon Usher said: “Traffic-free paths are not the place for reckless speed cycling; they cater to a variety of users by providing a safe, non-threatening environment to travel in.
“Unfortunately, a minority of people on bikes choose to speed as fast as they can on these routes, which makes them less safe for everyone else.”
Mr Delves-Broughton said: “It is a very popular path, especially with families with young children.
“Some cyclists go too fast, and accidents can happen.
“I want more to be done to make people slow down, more care needs to be taken on the path.”
Describing the crash, he said: “The other cyclist was coming way too fast for the crowed conditions on that afternoon.
“It was a terrible accident and both my son and the other rider where thrown from their bikes onto the ground.
“The other cyclist was very apologetic about it.
“If that other cyclist had hit an elderly, frail person with brittle bones the consequences could be dire and even result in a death.
“Something needs to be done to keep the speed down on this particular path.
“It is a very busy path, especially on a Sunday and it is packed with young families with learner riders, dogs, the elderly and infirm and also the idiotic who are unpredictable at best.”
Sustrans area manager Jon Usher added: “The Bath to Bristol path is a shared space so it is important that cyclists and walkers follow a few basic rules to ensure that accidents like this don’t happen.
“We are discussing the issue with South Gloucestershire Council and the Avon & Frome Valley Partnership that manage the Railway Path to see how the code of conduct on shared paths can be more widely promoted.
“As cyclists campaign for greater respect on our roads, it’s vital those of us using bicycles give respect to everyone using traffic-free paths.”
A history of calls to slow down
It's not the first time there have been calls for fast riders to slow down on the Bath-Bristol path. Last July Jon Usher blamed the rise in popularity of drop-handlebar road bikes for an increase in complaints along the path, and in May the organisation threatened to put barriers on some routes if riders did not slow down. In April there were calls for crossing marshals and a 20mph speed limit after Anne Tufney was hit from behind by another cyclist.
It has been pointed out that the Bath-Bristol path, completed in 1986, has been somehting of a victim of its own success. Its current popularity was unforeseen and it was not built with current best practice in mind, which would make it wider and have some separation between pedestrian and cycling areas.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.