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61-year-old says only lack of oncoming traffic saved his life following incident on shared-use path

A cyclist from Dorset claims that he is fortunate to be alive after a pedestrian pushed him into the road as he cycled along a designated shared-use path. Richard Gould, aged 61, believes that had there been traffic approaching at the time, he would almost certainly have been killed, reports the Dorset Echo.

The incident took place at 7.30pm last Wednesday evening as Mr Gould rode along the mixed-use footpath and cycle track running alongside the West Stafford bypass, near Dorchester. Earlier, he had been riding in a 14-strong group but he was alone when the irate pedestrian assaulted him.

“There was a guy walking towards me, he initially appeared okay and he was walking on the left of the footpath so I moved across to the right,” explained Mr Gould, who is retired.

“He then moved across to the right of the path so I moved back to the left.

“I slowed right down to not a great speed and as I passed him he gave me a shove in the right shoulder which forced me onto the main road carriageway and I fell off my bike.”

The man then stood over the cyclist as he lay on the road and berated him.

“He was ranting and raving and using an awful lot of unprintable language about how I shouldn’t be cycling on a footpath, that seemed to be his main beef.

“He then wandered off up the path towards West Stafford still shouting and hollering.”

Luckily for Mr Gould, no vehicles were approaching. “If there had been anything within 20 feet I would have been dead without a shadow of a doubt, because they wouldn’t have been able to stop.”

Police are appealing for witnesses, and Mr Gould insisted: “This guy needs to be found. I hate to think what would have happened if that had been a young girl or an old woman or a child, they would be thinking: ‘I’m not ever going out on my bike again’.”
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

17 comments

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downfader [203 posts] 5 years ago
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Scummy thing to do to the guy. I've had pedestrians moan at me for riding "on the pavement" when in fact I'm riding over a big 4 foot painted cycle on a designated cyclepath.

Hope the guy is OK. He looks serious enough to keep cycling.

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automatic_jon [68 posts] 5 years ago
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Pedestrians don't want to share the 'shared use' paths, this much is abundantly clear. Drivers don't want to share the road. Makes me wonder where we belong.

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Paul M [360 posts] 5 years ago
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This pedestrian's behavious was inexcusable - basically an assault for which a custodialsentence would be at least possible - but there is a general problem with shared use paths. Even when they are installed as cycle paths (ie not shared use) they can become clogged with pedestrians, who apparently don't realise that they are supposed to be for, or shared with, cyclists.

That appears to me to be at least partly a matter for more education - the signs are often pretty obscure, infrequent and not always very unambiguous. The paths themselves are often so narrow and cluttered (you could write a book about crap cycle paths - hey, wait a moment, somone already has!)that it is obvious really that they are just footpaths, innit?

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t1mmyb [87 posts] 5 years ago
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Clearly all pedestrians need to pay pavement tax, be insured and registered with clearly identifiable number plates. You can't be too careful.

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downfader [203 posts] 5 years ago
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I was riding in a segregated cyclepath next to a normal pavement a few months back, its by a shopping complex so I wasnt going to go anything over 10mph to be safe. I approached a bend and saw a group of about 10 teenage girls walking in the cycle side.

I ring my bell as I approach and one teen girl, clearly not budging, turned around and says: "F*** you, you motherf***er!"

Out of the mouths of children...  13

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Gregoire500 [104 posts] 5 years ago
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'shared use' = a compromise on safety and purpose and poor infrastructure that suits nobody.

Lots of these so called shared use paths are really just pavements with a line drawn up the middle and a few crap signs, with the cyclists' part normally roadside and taking in barriers, lamposts and crossings.

Pedestrians of course, don't realise or don't care, and those strung across the pavement walking in the same direction won't look behind them to see if anyone is using it.

The really great part of it though is that should you decide not to avail yourself of this commodious and ever so efficient infrastructure, you will then invite abuse from sanctimonious drivers who point to its presence as reason for you to use it, your refusal for doing so of course being due to your intransigent car-hating nature and love of causing them inconvenience.

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colhum1 [86 posts] 5 years ago
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I've been berated by a horse rider.....I undertook them...me on a cycle path them on the road!!
What are bridle paths for?

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Municipal Waste [241 posts] 5 years ago
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What a coward... I bet he wouldn't have pushed someone younger!

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downfader [203 posts] 5 years ago
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The compromise element is certainly true. On the one I use its because the council installed rediculous speed bumps on the road. I can bump the first two but the rest are too steep and high. They've even done it in the car park next to it. Bloody daft, you see drivers scuffing their exhaust on the thing.

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 5 years ago
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t1mmyb wrote:

Clearly all pedestrians need to pay pavement tax, be insured and registered with clearly identifiable number plates. You can't be too careful.

Maybe some (theoretically) elected half-wit should introduce a Private members Bill to get laws created against this sort of behaviour.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 5 years ago
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A section of my daily commute takes me along a shared use path (part of the c2c) on Newcastle quayside. In the morning its the march of the iPhone zombies, in the evening the stumble of the hen / stag groups. Anyway, couple of weeks ago some bloke in his 50s deliberately blocked my slow and careful progress and angrily pointed at the blue pedestrian and bike sign on the lampost. "can't you read?" He snarls. "yes" I reply, "I can also recognise a picture of a person and a bike. Look again". "oh" he says and looks confused as if perhaps Derren Brown had just performed some fiendishly sly psychological deception on him.

I ride on.

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davebinks [152 posts] 5 years ago
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I have had a "run in" not literally fortunately, with a someone on a shared cycle path.
I approached a couple walking away from me. He on the marked cycle half, she on the marked foot half.
"Hello" I called out, as I have found this to be non-confrontational and in plenty of time so as not to alarm them.
The man did move over, but when I was passing him he said I "should be on the road."
I stopped and pointed to the sign painted on the path and also on a pole beside it, both clearly visible and said it was a cycle path, so I was entitled to be there.
This obviously flummoxed him, so he then asked where my bell was!
I just said I was not obliged to carry one, and carried on my way.

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skippy [411 posts] 5 years ago
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Back in 2004 i was riding the bike path from Aylesbury towards Thame when i came across a family group walking across the whole path. Calling out Hello from about 100 m got some moving across to one side and though slower i started passing . Suddenly an adult male gave me a push causing me to crash and damage clothes and bike as well as some bruising and lost skin .
Told to ride on the road in future i replied that it was the bike path part that i was on . Then told to F*** off i pulled the mobile and called 999 to be told it was not a Police matter but did i need an ambulance .
Leaving the bike by the side of the road was not an option so had to decline .
Advised emergency services i wanted to make citizen's arrest and gave directions for them to send assistance but after trailing these people for more than 40mins no help arrived .
In Thame Police Station later gave a detailed description of all the group and was told "It's your word against their's" ." Not a police matterso don't hold your breathe for a result"!

Key their car and you go to Jail !

REport of my visit to Giro del Trentino on tourdafrance.blogspot

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whizzkid [73 posts] 5 years ago
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Totally agree (with Municipal Waste), if it had been a bodybuilder riding a trials bike, for instance, the pedestrian might've had a rather different attitude............

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MalcolmBinns [115 posts] 5 years ago
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Sad tale. I for one would rather take my chances on the roads. I don't like the closing speeds on unpredictable pedestrians, and generally find cars more reliable. Shared use is for the roads, not pavements.

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Cosmicned [26 posts] 5 years ago
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Shared use just doesn't work... invented by some pillock(s) who thought it'd be an easy way to meet some equally well meaning but ultimately gormless EEC attempt to 'green-up' our transport system... dodging i-phone zombies & un-aware pedestrians is tiresome & frankly not their fault...

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arowland [152 posts] 4 years ago
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There's a lot of anti-shared use comments here, from a group that is no doubt dominated by fit, experienced and fast riders. Shared use does not work well for riders averaging 18 mph.

But consider my village. We are surrounded by lovely country lanes, but I describe it as an island cut off from the countryside by A roads. Apart from one back lane and a path covered with sharp stones, the only way of reaching the outside world is along some very fast or windy A roads. If I want to go out with the kids, there is literally only one route you can use. Two of the four A roads are wide and have existing pavements. If they were upgraded to a suitable surface and priority was not lost at junctions, they would provide a very usable and safe alternative at much lower cost than dedicated cycle paths (painted lanes being worse than nothing IMHO). As traffic, both pedestrian and cycle, is low, such an arrangement should work well with some mutual consideration (e.g. bell or shouted 'Hello' from cyclists) and encourage families, kids, elderly and shoppers to use bikes more. At the moment the only people you see outside the village on bikes are Lycra-clad athletes, but there are small villages only a couple of miles up the road whose inhabitants come in to shop. It would reduce car traffic in the village.

It might not be the gold standard, but there's no chance of that in the present climate (especially considering the fairly low cycle traffic currently). I used to use shared-use paths when I lived in Germany and they worked fine, though I fitted a bell and slowed when approaching pedestrians.