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Dad calls for better safety measures

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.

119 comments

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Redvee [371 posts] 3 years ago
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There are Strava segments on the Bristol - Bath route, why? If you want to ride fast between Bristol and Bath use the A4.

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KiwiMike [1323 posts] 3 years ago
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So: child rides into path of oncoming cyclist, causes crash, injures self. Father blames cyclist.

No independent verification of speed of other cyclist.

Sorry, but shouldn't this be: 'Parents asked to keep children under control on popular shared path'?

People break arms slipping in the bath / on wet ground, let alone adding a bike and speed above walking pace. Yes, on shared paths (or any path for that matter) you should ride at a speed that forgives the *reasonable* mistakes of others. But not to the point that you are moving at walking pace with a man waving a red flag in front. We cannot live/ride allowing for every single act of error / stupidity / medical emergency. We'd never leave the house.

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teaboy [307 posts] 3 years ago
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"It has been pointed out that the Bath-Bristol path, completed in 1986, has been something 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."

Well, make it wider and put in some segregation then. It appears that this type of 'shared use' path is not fit for purpose.

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P3t3 [418 posts] 3 years ago
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I agree with the other posters. One of the main problems with this path is not speed - its that the tarmac is just not wide enough for the level of traffic!

The real estate is there, double the tarmac width and put a line down the middle with arrows. It also needs to separate the bikes from the pedestrians.

On a Saturday afternoon it is a bit crowded and it is easy to go too fast around people, but the problem is largely crowding and the mix of pedestrians and cyclists.

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Goldfever4 [388 posts] 3 years ago
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How fast is too fast when a child randomly pulls out behind a pedestrian?

As a daily user of the B2B, more spatial awareness and common sense needed from both cyclists and pedestrians.

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Mr Agreeable [183 posts] 3 years ago
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Better yet, build more routes to the centre of Bristol and Bath. If you want to cycle into Bristol on a half-decent non-stop route, for a sizeable chunk of east Bristol the Railway Path is the only way.

There should be proper segregated facilities along the A4 through Brislington, Fishponds Road and others, to take the fast commuter traffic, and leave the Railway Path for the families and dog walkers.

And needless to say, it shouldn't be left to a charity to get these installed. Local authorities have a much wider range of powers and for the people I know who work at Sustrans, overcoming local government inertia is a much bigger source of frustration than cyclists with drop handlebars or Strava segments.

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KiwiMike [1323 posts] 3 years ago
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I don't think demarcation with white paint is the answer - just as with cars on roads, putting down a line that infers this is 'my' side of the path/road/whatever means some will then go faster, thinking that others won't stray over or it's 'their fault' if they do. In an environment packed with kids learning to ride, dogs, elderly etc it's a recipe for ongoing conflict.

No, the only answer in a popular shared space is for people on bikes to slow down, people herding children to keep them on a tight-ish rein, those with dogs to use short leads/keep them close, and for no-one to blame any other user group when shit happens. I see no difference between the B2B or Two Tunnels path and a pedestrianised shopping area that you are allowed to cycle through. Except it's harder to get a coffee.

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Goldfever4 [388 posts] 3 years ago
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Mr Agreeable wrote:

Better yet, build more routes to the centre of Bristol and Bath. If you want to cycle into Bristol on a half-decent non-stop route, for a sizeable chunk of east Bristol the Railway Path is the only way.

There should be proper segregated facilities along the A4 through Brislington, Fishponds Road and others, to take the fast commuter traffic, and leave the Railway Path for the families and dog walkers.

And needless to say, it shouldn't be left to a charity to get these installed. Local authorities have a much wider range of powers and for the people I know who work at Sustrans, overcoming local government inertia is a much bigger source of frustration than cyclists with drop handlebars or Strava segments.

The Bristol Cycling Manifesto has a lot of proposed routes that would aide this, if it was implemented properly Bristol would become a fantastic city to travel by bike.

pdf of the leaflet (inc map): http://www.bristolcyclingcampaign.org.uk/images/manifesto/a5_leaflet_fin...

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teaboy [307 posts] 3 years ago
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KiwiMike wrote:

I don't think demarcation with white paint is the answer - just as with cars on roads, putting down a line that infers this is 'my' side of the path/road/whatever means some will then go faster, thinking that others won't stray over or it's 'their fault' if they do. In an environment packed with kids learning to ride, dogs, elderly etc it's a recipe for ongoing conflict.

No, the only answer in a popular shared space is for people on bikes to slow down, people herding children to keep them on a tight-ish rein, those with dogs to use short leads/keep them close, and for no-one to blame any other user group when shit happens. I see no difference between the B2B or Two Tunnels path and a pedestrianised shopping area that you are allowed to cycle through. Except it's harder to get a coffee.

Nobody has mentioned a painted line - that is not segregation. If paint worked to keep pedestrians and traffic separate then we wouldn't have kerb stones.

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Leodis [427 posts] 3 years ago
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"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”."

So the kid pulls out into someone else and the patents blame the victim... Isnt it always the case with parents these days, never their little angels.

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workhard [400 posts] 3 years ago
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Yet another "My little prince can do no wrong" parent blaming others for their child's actions, no doubt driven by guilt that maybe, just maybe, this boy's parents might have taught him to ride a little better before letting him loose in public.

Last summer, when out running, I was ridden into by an eight year old on his bike. That was my fault too, according to Daddy.

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acjim [31 posts] 3 years ago
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Having both ridden pretty quickly and taken my 2 boys (5 and 7) for family rides on the B2B I feel uniquely qualified to comment  3

There are sections that beg to be ridden fast, but the responsibility has to be on the faster traffic to slow for high risk groups (peds/kids/dogs etc.), if you're with a family you should try to corral the kids but it's not straightforward - the B2B is motorised traffic free so an ideal place for youngsters to learn good road skills, but they need to be given the space to fail too.

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farrell [1946 posts] 3 years ago
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Come on Sustrans, have you not got some homebrew elderflower wine that needs tending to?

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AyBee [85 posts] 3 years ago
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If I was in a car and I pulled out to overtake another car and collided with a car going the other way, could I too blame the car coming the other way for going too fast? Speed isn't the problem here!

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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These routes are promoted as the saviour of cycling it seems...then they wonder why these incidents happen and scream bloody murder (not the dad, he is fairly reasoned to be annoyed), it's not hard to ride these paths "safely".

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Mr Agreeable [183 posts] 3 years ago
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You can actually see the remnants of faded white lines up the centre of the path in some places! It's been tried and didn't work.

People get hung up on the supposed dangers of the cycle path (witness the 1,000 signature-strong petition calling for a speed limit on bikes - to be measured and enforced by unspecified means). It doesn't help that every few months there's a collision serious enough to be splashed all over the local anti-cycling rag.

In the meantime, traffic in Bristol continues to be awful, and properly serious injuries and deaths on the road are all too common (most recently a 3 year-old who was killed after a trailer detached from a vehicle). I wish Sustrans, and indeed this website, would stop going along with the "man bites dog" aspect of these crappy local media stories and do more to remind people of the bigger issues that we face.

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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AyBee wrote:

If I was in a car and I pulled out to overtake another car and collided with a car going the other way, could I too blame the car coming the other way for going too fast? Speed isn't the problem here!

+1 It's the impaitence which causes some riders to take risks they might not well take on the public highways shared with motor vehicles.

It is an issue on any shared environment with more / equal(?) vulnerable users.

I hope the lad heals well fast / soon

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southseabythesea [149 posts] 3 years ago
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If you ride on these paths do everyone a favour, leave your ego at home. Don't chase segments and ride to the conditions, if it's busy slow down or better still ride on the miles and miles of roads where you can hammer it!

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Yorkshie Whippet [624 posts] 3 years ago
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Couple of questions immediately pop to mind;

1. How fast is too fast?
2. Would the father have cared less if it hadn't been his son?
3. Marshals and signs, really as if speed limit signs, police and speed cameras on roads work in this country?
4. When will people realise, the ringing of a bell is to alert other of your presence, it does not give you the right of way? Either way it's totally pointless when you consider the high use of mp3s and phones.
5. Is it not time those such as councils and Sustrans decide who they want to use the paths? Dog walkers constantly stopping, walkers travelling no more than 6mph, families on bikes at maybe 10mph or the more "experienced" nutter at 15plus. Yes people can slow down but in this day and age, we won't. These situations are like sending a delivery lorry dropping off every hundred or so yards onto a 3 line motorway and expecting traffic to flow as per normal.

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Cookie91 [21 posts] 3 years ago
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They have been flagged as dangerous, therefore the segments are pratically invalid.

There are definately lots of wannabe racers on the Bath to Bristol path. Usually unaware of the danger of their wreckless riding. In a way they pose the same threat to pedestrians as dangerous drivers post to cyclists.

Keep the racing to the roads and tracks guys!

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mrmo [2096 posts] 3 years ago
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workhard wrote:

Last summer, when out running, I was ridden into by an eight year old on his bike. That was my fault too, according to Daddy.

Not just kids though, I got bitten by a loose dog on a local shared path last year, my fault for cycling and the dog didn't like bikes!

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

So: child rides into path of oncoming cyclist, causes crash, injures self. Father blames cyclist.

No independent verification of speed of other cyclist.

Sorry, but shouldn't this be: 'Parents asked to keep children under control on popular shared path'?

You can't say either way as the only people that know are the people that witnessed it...

Anyhow, the lad is learning to ride and is 9 years old, you've got to expect them to make mistakes, whenever I am on a shared use path (reluctantly) with walkers about, i always slow down (assuming they aren't blocking the whole path and it is passable (knowingly or not).

I digress, everyone could talk about this all day but we will still be none the wiser to as to what happened.

I suspect like in a lot but not all collisions it was 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, the other person did apologise which is a good thing, some might just ride off or be rude.

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mrmo [2096 posts] 3 years ago
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Fundamental problem, and no amount of codes, rules or anything else is going to help.

Some people like speed, and some people will travel fast. Why do people speed In cars? because they can! Have we learnt nothing? If you want people to ride slowly on paths you have to make it impossible to ride fast.

The alternative is to make sure that you do not mix fast and slow. Mopeds are banned from Motorways for a reason!

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davkt [43 posts] 3 years ago
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Improved safety measures? How about teaching the kid to ride properly, he was at fault and if any adult is to blame it is his parents for not controlling him!

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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davkt wrote:

Improved safety measures? How about teaching the kid to ride properly, he was at fault and if any adult is to blame it is his parents for not controlling him!

Some perspective please..isn't that what the lad is doing? learning to ride in a quiet (in theory) environment?

As i've said the only people who can comment on what EXACTLY happened are the people involved / around at the time, anything is just idle SPECULATION and I include myself in that naturally.

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felixcat [486 posts] 3 years ago
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Wreckless.

Unless you are referring to a piece of the seabed without any sunken ships, the word is "reckless". "Reck" is the same word as reckon.
I would not bother making this point but the mistake is becoming widespread.
Rather like "tow the line" for "toe the line".

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mrmo [2096 posts] 3 years ago
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northstar wrote:
davkt wrote:

Improved safety measures? How about teaching the kid to ride properly, he was at fault and if any adult is to blame it is his parents for not controlling him!

Some perspective please..isn't that what the lad is doing? learning to ride in a quiet (in theory) environment?

[/quote]

If I am riding up behind someone then I will slow more than if I am riding towards someone. Certain assumptions get made, such as have they seen me! Parents do have to shoulder a large part of the blame, if the kid had to pull out to overtake walkers and the way was not clear. I guess one issue that I can think of, do the parents ride on the road, do they understand that many of the things that apply on the road to cars are equally valid off the road. Yes the kid is learning, but what exactly are they learning?

On shared paths, in my experience, most cyclists ride as they would on the road, by that I mean they ride as if there is a white line down the middle. and in doing so also give way if they have to overtake and in doing so cross into the path of traffic coming the other way.

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KiwiMike [1323 posts] 3 years ago
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teaboy wrote:
KiwiMike wrote:

I don't think demarcation with white paint is the answer .

Nobody has mentioned a painted line - that is not segregation.

"Well, make it wider and put in some segregation then" and "...put a line down the middle with arrows"

*demarcation* - segregation would be lovely and the Dutch do it perfectly where the traffic volumes (car/bike or bike/pedestrian) dictate, but not economically feasible right now.

(the below is actually in Minnesota. Strava heaven on a plate.)

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velovoice [24 posts] 3 years ago
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For an article that refers (twice) to "the code of conduct" (note, not "a (hypothetical, desired) code of conduct" -- and specifically to "how the code of conduct can be better promoted" -- I consider it to be shockingly poor journalism not to have included even a basic summary of what that code is and where to find it.

It's here:
http://www.sustrans.org.uk/change-your-travel/get-cycling/cycling-code-c...

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dee4life2005 [30 posts] 3 years ago
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I had a near miss a few months ago on a shared use path, albeit this section is primarily used by cycles (along A92 from arbroath to broughty ferry). I was pushing on a bit, but saw a family up ahead so slowed right down (to about 10mph). I tried ringing my bell and calling out as I approached but they didn't hear. The father had a child seat on the back so I didn't ring again or call out when I was really close as I didn't want to give him a shock in case he lost balance, so I waited. About 1 mile further down the path they eventually looked around and started to pull over. The mum and dad told all the kids to get to the right of the path, which was nice. I proceeded to overtake at about 5-10 mph, and it's just as well. On drawing level with the kid at the front they swerved immediately left across the path, right in front of me. Left me nowhere to go but ride into a hedge (of the spiky variety!) to avoid hitting them. Didn't fancy hitting a kid to be honest. No-one was hurt (other than me getting a slight prickling from the gorse bush) no words were said by me and the parents apologised. No harm done. Keeping speed down around others on paths, whether it's pedestrians, dog walkers or cyclists I would have thought was common sense .. strava segment or not.

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