Home
Cyclists asked to show more respect to other users of popular shared use path or face barriers to slow them down

Barriers will be placed on a popular cycling route to force cyclists to cut their speeds unless some of them start showing more consideration for walkers and children following a number of incidents in which people have reported feeling threatened by bike riders travelling riding at inappropriate speeds through Bristol's Ashton Court Estate.

The news reflects a wider issue regarding concern over inappropriate speeds on shared use facilities, with some cyclists on the Bristol-Bath bike path clocked riding at speeds of almost 30mph close to a school, according to Sustrans.

The sustainable transport charity says the problem is due to a minority of cyclists riding irresponsibly both at Ashton Court and elsewhere, with its Area Manager for the West of England, Jon Usher, telling road.cc that despite Bristol City Council erecting notices and signs at Ashton Court, the UK’s third busiest country park, urging riders to cut their speed, some cyclists are ignoring them.

He adds that there have been a number of reported near-misses, mostly involving children, and as a result the council is considering erecting gates that would force cyclists to dismount, which it says would mean all cyclists being put at a disadvantage due to the inconsiderate riding of a few riders.

Sustrans says that currently, there are three Strava segments that include parts of the Ashton Court Estate, something it describes as “wholly inappropriate on these roads used widely for recreation - walking and cycling.”

The problems at Ashton Court reflect something that Sustrans is seeing more widely in shared-used paths it operates in and around Bristol, the city where it is based, as well as in Bath, where some cyclists have been seen travelling too fast on the recently Two Tunnels route, for instance (although as we have pointed out previously, reports that the route is inherently unsafe are wide of the mark).

Issues highlighted by Sustrans include cyclists regularly being caught by speed sensing equipment travelling at speeds in excess of 28mph on the Bristol-Bath cycle path, close to a school – this at a time when the government is being urged to make it easier for councils to implement 20mph zones not only in and around schools but also residential areas as a whole.

Usher says: “Greenways (whilst great and convenient) are not for speeds in excess of 15-20mph especially in built up busy areas.

“Pedestrians on these paths regularly describe feeling threatened - exactly the same many people that cycle describe feeling around car traffic. We need to reverse this trend of resentment as we need to be seen by all as the solution.”

He added that Sustrans did not want to put cyclists off using the paths, but he did want riders to use them responsibly.

“The cycling average cycling speed in Copenhagen was recently reported to be somewhere round the 20kph mark (12.5mph),” he added.

“We need a slow bicycle movement in the UK to show everyone that cycling isn't just a sport, but that it can be a transport choice too.”

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.

41 comments

Avatar
CraigS [129 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

If there are two tunnels, have one for cyclists and one for pedestrians - problem solved!  3

The problem is the same as when you mix cars and cyclists: whatever you do, there will always be idiots who don't behave responsibly and it's the more vulnerable person that is going to come off worse.

Avatar
mrmo [2070 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

which in part is why i am of the belief that shared use paths are not the solution. They work in a local small scale manner, where time differences between travelling at 10mph or 20mph are minimal. Once your onto a longer route traveling slowly starts to become an issue.

If i drive my commute is 40mins, if i cycle it is an hour, if i slow to 10mph it goes beyond the 1.5hours. Is it that realistic? But a shorter commute say half the distance the time gaps are no real issue.

Avatar
CraigS [129 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Mrmo - you've got it spot on. You won't get more people choosing bikes over cars if the bike takes much longer because the only safe routes sustrans and councils invest in are shared use paths that you have to go slowly on.

Avatar
qwerky [184 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Some people are just plain stupid. Shared paths are not the place for fast riding. Why not just figure out who the maniacs are, wait for them and then arrest them for furious cycling?

Don't see the point in punishing everyone due to the actions of the few.

Avatar
thereverent [398 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Shared use path are not the place for speed.

But for a paths that cover a long distance that will be used by commuters, you have to have the ability to go at a sensible speed (32kph/20mph) or it becomes uesless for the utility type of cycling Sustrans want.
I commute 21Km/13Mi in London so unless I have a reasonable average speed it become too slow to be an alternative to the train/tube.

as a result the council is considering erecting gates that would force cyclists to dismount

So Bristol council also put speed bumps and barriers on all roads where cars speeding is a problem?

Avatar
thereverent [398 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Sustrans says that currently, there are three Strava segments that include parts of the Ashton Court Estate, something it describes as “wholly inappropriate on these roads used widely for recreation - walking and cycling.”

Well flag them then, FFS!  14

Avatar
JonD [399 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

“The cycling average cycling speed in Copenhagen was recently reported to be somewhere round the 20kph mark (12.5mph),” he added.

No surprise there, the distances cycled by yer average cycle commuter tend to be shorter and in normal clothes. I wonder what the average speed of those cycling longer distances is ?

“We need a slow bicycle movement in the UK to show everyone that cycling isn't just a sport, but that it can be a transport choice too.”

...and as has been posted, if it takes too long or is inconvenient for whatever reason then they won't use it.

That said, it sounds like some people are being idiots, but Mr Usher seems to be missing the point of what 'sustainable transport' includes..

Avatar
Doctor Fegg [143 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

20mph might be a "sensible speed" for road.cc readers, but it's way above what the other 95% of the population will aspire to (I'm generously estimating road.cc's reach as 5% of the population here  4 ).

Long Ashton is not a huge way out of Bristol: just four miles by my reckoning. 12mph is perfectly reasonable on that sort of distance.

For those that are confident enough to go faster, you can just cut along Ashton Road and join up with route 33 by the playing fields, missing out Ashton Court entirely. It's perfectly pleasant (I did it a couple of weeks ago). No-one needs to cycle crazy fast through Ashton Court.

Avatar
jonusher [20 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

The issue is cycling appropriately for the conditions in all circumstances. There are sections of the Bristol-Bath Railway Path that travelling at 20mph is fine if there are no pedestrians around. The same for any other shared use path for that matter.

I made the comment about Strava at Ashton Court because the Estate is seriously worried about the effects it's having. The fact that you can't flag segments unless you're a user doesn't help either (I'm not one for info).

The type of cyclists in Holland and Denmark don't differ enormously from us in the UK. The vast majority of journeys people make by bike are between 2-5 miles where the difference between travelling at 12mph vs 20mph is relatively small. However they treat cycling like walking, we instinctively treat it like a sport regardless of the distance we aim to travel.

Avatar
LegalFun [35 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I often go walking on country roads and get cars going by at over 60mph!

The article even says: " something it describes as “wholly inappropriate on these roads used widely for recreation - walking and cycling.”
Surely riding a bike at above walking pace is a recreational activity?

The shared use paths near me are all either in pointless locations or are unsuitable for road bikes due to the gravel they used.
I went for a bike ride the other day and was shouted at by motorists for not using the cycle track beside the road; I don't use it because of the broken glass, dog mess and ignorant pedestrians who walk in a line across the path blocking my way!

I think the main issue is that bikes are very silent when they come from behind you or if you are either a small child or elderly. I often spook people even when passing at 5 or 6 mph!

Avatar
nowasps [418 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

If everyone kept left it might be a start. And I don't just mean pedestrians.

Avatar
SideBurn [890 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

These Sustrans paths are a stupid idea anyway; I would rather see the money spent making roads more cycle friendly. I keep reading about money being spent on cycling when in reality they are spending huge sums on a dog toilet; a waste of money, dogs can, and do s**t anywhere and everywhere

Avatar
the_mikey [158 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I sincerely hope these slow down measures don't discriminate against disabled and those who chose to ride something other than a rusty old mountain bike, ie, tricycles, recumbent cycles, hand cycles, cycles with child trailers, e-bikes and other mobility aids. There are already a few challenging and difficult barriers to those users, along with a crappy surface on many sustrans paths, I'm beginning to think sustrans have an ideal cyclist who rides a touring/trail bike with thick tyres in mind, anyone else can go to hell. If you're going to create cycle paths, do it, make them useable to everyone, make it possible for people to commute to work on them, ride for leisure or excersise, don't force these legitimate users back off their bikes because they're now unwelcome everywhere once again.

Avatar
Ting [58 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

This needn't be difficult.
Whether a car, a cyclist or pedestrian you need to travel at an appropriate speed. That means taking consideration of where you are, what you are on and who you are around.
This applies to roads, shared paths and dedicated paths.
With me so far?
I commute about 180miles a week by bike and doing that at 10mph will take nearly a whole day out of my week. I regularly use the B2B and 2T greeenway without issues. I often travel in excess of 20mph in the CD Tunnel because it's 6am and I can see perfectly well that there's no one about, it's the same on the B2B path. If there are people about then I slow down, which is the case on my homeward journey.
If those people are with a dog or child etc then I slow down more.
If I'm up against it for time I use the main A4 and go as fast as I like.
As I said this shouldn't be difficult.
If people insist on travelling too fast despite 'soft'attempts to lower their speed, then physical measures should be put in place to slow them down.

Avatar
the_mikey [158 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
CraigS wrote:

Mrmo - you've got it spot on. You won't get more people choosing bikes over cars if the bike takes much longer because the only safe routes sustrans and councils invest in are shared use paths that you have to go slowly on.

+1 exactly this.

Avatar
IanD [24 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

My commute involves a lengthy section of the Clyde walkway which as its name implies was initially created as a footpath. Now part of the national cycling network, but still a shared use path.

I regularly have to slow for pedestrians and dog walkers. They are perfectly entitled to be there and enjoy the same traffic free environment I'm using at the same time. Slows me down for a few seconds, but that is the same as us expecting drivers to wait.

When I'm driving I don't have a problem slowing for cyclists, so why should a cyclist not slow for a pedestrian? Some Strava users (and some roadies) are not the most considerate of cyclists, but I'll bet they are as quick as the rest of us to complain about poor driving.

Works both ways and that pedestrian you scared will be getting in their car round the corner fuming at ignorant cyclists. Not going to help the next cyclist they meet on the road.

I can also appreciate what it is like for a pedestrian as my hearing is pretty poor and I've been caught out several times when a bike has come up behind me and terrified me. That's from someone who really dislikes getting in cyclists way as I know it helps everyone if we give each other room.

Avatar
brucethebruce [34 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Spot on.

Avatar
brucethebruce [34 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Spot on.

Avatar
the_mikey [158 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Doctor Fegg wrote:

For those that are confident enough to go faster, you can just cut along Ashton Road and join up with route 33 by the playing fields, missing out Ashton Court entirely. It's perfectly pleasant (I did it a couple of weeks ago). No-one needs to cycle crazy fast through Ashton Court.

Last time I cycled through Ashton Court I think I was lucky if I got past 8km/h. It was busy and that's as fast as I would allow myself to cycle there, if there were no people around maybe I'd ride faster, the conditions dictated the speed.

Avatar
JonD [399 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
SideBurn wrote:

These Sustrans paths are a stupid idea anyway; I would rather see the money spent making roads more cycle friendly. I keep reading about money being spent on cycling when in reality they are spending huge sums on a dog toilet; a waste of money, dogs can, and do s**t anywhere and everywhere

It's different funding and different provision , and quite separate from roads spending.

Avatar
fuzzywuzzy [76 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I've been through AC on my road bike a few times, don't particularly enjoy it but it's usually better than the road alternative. Whilst I agree cyclists should exercise a lot more caution on shared footpaths (and having Strava segments on them is crazy) there are an awful lot of muppets on two feet. Whether it's joggers with iPods (who are always going to be startled when you come past, no matter how much warning you try and give), family groups that just meander across the path assuming they only have to look in front of themselves and people with dogs either not on leads or on long leads that are just as much of a hazard.
As the potentially more dangerous road/path user then the cyclist does have to take more responsibility but much like the car v bike debate where cyclists need to have at least basic road sense, in this case pedestrians when they know they're on a shared path need to understand they can't completely switch off or assume they'll only meet others on foot

Avatar
rich22222 [164 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I agree shared paths are not the way toward fully functional cycling infra but I can still manage 14/15 mph ave off road on shared paths, slowing right down to pass peds/dogs/children/ducks.
If you want to go 30mph use the road.

Avatar
Al__S [1018 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

This story highlights two things:
1. that some Strava users (not all of them, obviously) are, as we've previously established, utter bell-ends.
2. That Sustrans paths are almost all entirely rubbish. They're generally not fit for mass use

Avatar
Sam Saunders [26 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

The Ashton Court path is a high quality asphalt covered estate road. It is not a cycle path per se, but part of a public park where cycling is allowed. No one in a hurry needs to use it, as public roads provide adequate alternatives. One thing that has not been mentioned is that for a long sweep it is downhill and that despite prominent painted messages on the road surface some cyclists travel at reckless speeds. See my blog on how it works here.

Bristol does have its fair share of anarchic road users - it's almost a tradition - and certainly doesn't confine itself to people on bikes. The situation on the Bristol and Bath Railway path is a problem and one that all who cycle on it should pay attention to. Planners may well be the villains, but inappropriate speeds at those few places where it really matters are passing the problem on to small children and their minders. Their behaviour is indefensible and cycle campaigners shouldn't even try to defend it - it spoils the case for everyone. Those who don't know it might find this picture of the most awkward spot helpful. It obviously needs a bridge for the school children.

Avatar
Mr Agreeable [172 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

User conflict is a tricky issue. Some people will never feel comfortable sharing space with cyclists, and letting these people determine the design of cycle routes is a bit like putting an arachnophobe in charge of a biodiversity plan.

Similarly, there are issues with a lot of Sustrans routes which means people do and will continue to cycle along them as fast as they can, no matter how many warnings are given.

The Railway Path is a prime example - it's not very direct (especially when you factor in the meandering links to the cities it connects), and has an undeservedly bad reputation for crime (the 28 mph speed trap isn't just near a school, it's also near a fairly grim bit of the city), so people do try and ride it quickly. Hopefully some of these problems can be addressed if Bristol wins its Cycling Ambitions fund bid, by making more traffic-free routes and better connections.

Avatar
Mr Agreeable [172 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Personally Sam, I'd say that many cycle campaigners need to stop apologising for the behaviour of a few people who they have no hope of influencing, and concentrate on getting the design of cycle routes sorted. It's really bizarre that people think a tutting campaign on blogs, social media and A4 laminated notices is going to change deeply embedded behaviour, or the way cyclists are perceived.

Even if we all started obeying the rules of the road tomorrow, to many people we'd still be annoying freaks who were guilty of other perceived infractions, like not wearing helmets and hi-viz, riding two abreast on quiet country roads, or having the temerity to be on the road in the first place. Sustrans are the cuddly face of cycling, and have to say the sensible thing, but I'd much rather see them working on campaigns for everyone than getting sucked into this sort of negative debate.

As for the focus on Strava, I hate the way it's marketed as much as anyone, but I reckon far more inconsiderate cycling is caused by people trying not to be late for work...

Avatar
pmanc [203 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
mrmo wrote:

which in part is why i am of the belief that shared use paths are not the solution....time differences...yadda yadda yadda...

This is true, but surely they can be part of the solution? I think the point is, while it's reasonable to expect dedicated infrastructure free of pedestrians on longer cross-town or between-town routes, cyclists can't expect to go over 20mph all the time.

To learn from the Dutch model, in quieter residential areas cycle lanes aren't segregated from cars because everyone is expected to calm down a bit and drive (or ride) appropriately. Similarly, if cycling does become more popular we can expect to see more congestion related to bikes - the school run etc are often featured on videos because scenes of hundreds of cyclists highlights the popularity of cycling, but it's not all like that. Certainly, slowing down to 10-12mph for all of a 10 mile commute is an unreasonable ask, but surely slowing down for bits of it is fair? Drivers can't go at 30mph constantly in town and they shouldn't be able to.

I don't know the path in question. Is it just through an estate as the name suggests or is it a longer path?

The problem with Sustrans routes is that they often have quite long distances as shared use (like Bath-Bristol). Although I would cut them some slack, cycle infrastructure should never have been left to a powerless charity in the first place.

Avatar
DoctorRad [6 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I don't understand why people use the bottom of Ashton Court anyway. It's (relatively) hilly and involves both speed bumps, awful surfaces in places and a nominal 10mph speed limit.

This is why Sustrans are still aiming to bypass it in the longer term despite the North Somerset setback which scuppered the plan for a track along the south boundary.

Avatar
imaca [73 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

“Pedestrians on these paths regularly describe feeling threatened - exactly the same many people that cycle describe feeling around car traffic. We need to reverse this trend of resentment as we need to be seen by all as the solution.”
...not sure about local conditions but here (NZ) many less experienced cyclists behave like that, they are just continuing the social norm they experience on the road (widespread disregard and lack of respect for other users)
Countries like Denmark have laws which make people aware of and have respect for others wellbeing (strict liability etc). The solution has to start at the top.

Avatar
Myriadgreen [96 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
pmanc wrote:

The problem with Sustrans routes is that they often have quite long distances as shared use (like Bath-Bristol). Although I would cut them some slack, cycle infrastructure should never have been left to a powerless charity in the first place.

And that's the issue - If Sustrans are not building the paths, who is? Not the councils. The Bristol Bath path is not direct as it follows an abandoned railway. Whilst it would be great to put a dedicated cycle path next to the A4, the councils never have, and cyclists would just moan about that massive hill near Saltford anyway.

Sustrans routes are not almost entirely rubbish, but they have to work with what's available. If it's an abandoned railway, then so be it. If it's getting permission to put a route through a beautiful country park, then (apart from those evil speed humps at the entrance) what is rubbish about that? At least they are doing something! Anyone complaining about their routes should a) write to their local MP/Council etc and ask THEM to build new routes that start outside their house, go to their place of work or favourite ride, avoid hills and are free of cars and pedestrians. b) set up their own charity to do it. Responses: a) the council will complain that it's too expensive and b) there's no point as Sustrans does it already, as best it can in a world full of budget cuts, NIMBYS and closed minded councils who don't see cycling as a viable alternative to the car.

Pages