Fears of speeding 'competitive road cyclists' leads to protests against proposed cycle path upgrade

Lack of consultation about Vale of Glamorgan Council's plans to resurface shared use route also angers locals

by Simon_MacMichael   May 16, 2013  

Sully Terrace, Penarth (source Google Street View)

Fears of speeding cyclists have led some residents of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan to seek a court order to prevent a gravel walkway and cycle path from being paved over and widened. The story echoes recent reports here on road.cc of some riders travelling at excessive speeds on shared facilities including Ashton Court in Bristol causing alarm to pedestrians.

One of the leaders of the campaign, Hazel Bransfield of Sully Terrace, Penarth, told BBC News Wales that she was concerned the newly surfaced path would lead to what it termed 'competitive road cyclists' riding at speed on it. "The ordinary cyclists don't want the path changed and we all get along together," she added.

Sustrans Cymru is not involved in the Penarth project, although spokesman Matt Hemsley told road.cc that it had conducted a feasibility study several years ago and supports Vale of Glamorgan Council’s aims to provide a shared use path built to National Cycle Network (NCN) standards that could eventually link parts of the network.

But he reiterated that such facilities required all users to act responsibly, and being aimed not just at people on bikes but also pedestrians, perhaps walking their dogs or with children in a push chair, they’re certainly unsuitable for cyclists looking to train or engage in virtual racing against others through apps such as Strava, who are urged to seek quiet roads instead.

Outside Wales, concerns have been expressed recently about a small minority of cyclists riding too quickly on shared paths such as Ashton Court in Bristol, the new Two Tunnels route in Bath, and the Bristol-Bath path, where speeds in excess of 28mph have been registered close to a school.

Protestors against the proposed upgrading of the walkway and cycle path in Penarth, which is intended to form part of a wider route along a disused railway line from the town centre and Lavernock Road, have applied for village green status for the section passing along Sully Terrace.

The location in question is a strip of grassland no more than 50 feet wide, bordered to the west by back gardens and to the east by Sully terrace. Trees flank each side of the existing path, which from Archer Place to where Sully Terrace swings off covers a distance of no more than 250 yards, the path continuing south between back gardens.

As village greens go, it’s certainly not one you could play a game of cricket on, but Hemsley says that securing village green status is a tactic now often favoured by opponents to such schemes after some successes in the past.

He told us that as yet, no formal plans have been released by Vale of Glamorgan Council for the project, but that it does plan to hold a consultation later this year.

What has prompted the current campaign against the path is that the council earlier this year carried out some preliminary ground clearance, having to spend the money allocated for that purpose, and failed to hold a consultation prior to doing that.

Hemsley added that the issue underlines something Sustrans highlighted in its responses to the white paper outlining plans for the Active Travel Bill, and the bill itself –that local authorities needed to engage with not just local communities but also potential users of the facilities it envisages at an early stage to avoid this kind of conflict from arising.

It’s that lack of consultation that seems to underpin opposition to the path as much as the prospect of fast-moving cyclists does.

Last week, some 50 protestors met in Cardiff with Andrew Davies, leader of the Conservative group in the Welsh Assembly and who lives locally, who told the Penarth Times afterwards: “It is troubling that the council do not seem more engaged with this issue and a situation of us and them appears to have been created with the residents.


"We all want better and more environmentally friendly modes of transport but they cannot drive a bulldozer through the views of local people.


"Their priorities seem completely wrong."

Quoted in the same article, Sustrans Cymru's Hemsley said: "We support high quality sealed surfaces which don't wear and tear, minimise ongoing costs, and are safe for all to use, from cyclists to wheelchair users.

"We also support continuous routes because those that aren't, or have breakages in them - diverting onto roads for example - tend to discourage people.

"But we do agree with the residents in this case that there has not been enough consulation. That is regrettable and full consultation is something we always encourage."

16 user comments

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she was concerned the newly surfaced path would lead to what it termed 'competitive road cyclists' riding at speed on it. "The ordinary cyclists don't want the path changed and we all get along together," she added.

What is so attractive about a short 250m path that so many fast cyclists will flock there?

I can't imagine the 'ordinary cyclists' like the gravel path, as gravel is a pain to ride on unless you have fat tyres.

posted by thereverent [292 posts]
16th May 2013 - 17:07

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Bring on the speed bumps!

spatuluk's picture

posted by spatuluk [27 posts]
16th May 2013 - 17:10

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Will we ever hear the following; 'Fear of fast motorists put road upgrade in doubt'?

Still smiling politely at a persistently flat chain.

velophilia's picture

posted by velophilia [38 posts]
16th May 2013 - 17:14

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spatuluk wrote:
Bring on the speed bumps!

They have them on the (shared use) paths over Clapham Common.
Probably ok on a mountain bike, but on skinny tyres I avoid thaem completely now.
Stupid thing is, during the summer you could ride faster on the grass next to the path.

posted by thereverent [292 posts]
16th May 2013 - 17:24

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This stretch of path runs alongside some pretty expensive houses......just saying

posted by Winstan88 [10 posts]
16th May 2013 - 21:53

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So can we also stop any new roads being built due to the risk of speeding drivers?

Nimbyism at it's worst.

posted by gazza_d [141 posts]
16th May 2013 - 21:57

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Have they applied early for village green status? The new rules (though this might not apply to devolved Wales) require the status to be there before there's development plans- you can thank/throw rotten tomatoes at Eric Pickles for that one.

posted by Al__S [457 posts]
17th May 2013 - 8:36

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The annoying thing is that the current path across the 'village green' is a muddy path where the grass has been worn away by people short-cutting across it. The alternative route is to cross the road that runs alongside the grassed area and use the footpath on the other side of the road which no-one does.....

And as stated above, the rest of the path that is being improved is currently gravel which is a pain to ride along, and generally covered in dog crap and discarded crisp packets.....

posted by Redx [29 posts]
17th May 2013 - 8:43

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And if you want a laugh you should have a read of the letters page in the Penarth Times......

posted by Redx [29 posts]
17th May 2013 - 8:45

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I do have some sympathy with walkers on shared paths.

There can be a very large difference in speed, and typical trajectory between the two groups, especially if the walkers have children. What's more, walkers can typically stop within a metre if an unexpected obstacle appears; 20mph cyclists cannot.

Given my typical cycling speed is often somewhat in excess of 20mph, I generally deem it inappropriate for me to use these shared paths and instead use the road (presumably, much to the chagrin of the cars).

I fully agree we need to develop the infrastructure to support cycling, but cyclists must also be aware of the dynamics of the paths they are using, and be considerate of other users (be they walkers, other cyclists, or potentially even motor vehicles)

posted by Tjuice [96 posts]
17th May 2013 - 11:54

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I have sympathy with them- but the fears of something bad happening here due to fast cyclists are being used to stop the path being upgraded (widened and properly tarmaced) to the benefit of slow cyclists, walkers etc.

posted by Al__S [457 posts]
17th May 2013 - 14:22

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I'm pretty sure the people complaining about fast cyclists on shared paths are the same ones who abuse us and buzz/drive their cars at us when we choose to ride fast on the road instead of using the shared path.

posted by madmax [9 posts]
17th May 2013 - 16:33

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gazza_d wrote:
So can we also stop any new roads being built due to the risk of speeding drivers?

Nimbyism at it's worst.

+1

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [522 posts]
17th May 2013 - 17:35

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Nimbys are everywhere.
I am surprised anything gets done in this country

RoundtheEdge

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posted by spragger [25 posts]
17th May 2013 - 18:42

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Just to say I whole heartedly agree with your comment
we have good fast paths in Brighton but take us through hotspots like the entrance to the pier. You just have to be patient and most of the time I go on the road. .... less dangerous Ha ha.. except once a lady car driver told me to get off the road and use the cycle path....just cant win. Confused

posted by Sangharaja1 [8 posts]
18th May 2013 - 9:18

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In my experience it is not the cyclists at fault on shared use paths the vast majority of the time, it is the foot pedestrians and dog walkers that create the problems.

Cyclists are alert, pay attention, and negotiate their way around others safely because they have to. Foot pedestrians walk three abreast and refuse to move, they walk with hoods up and earphones in meandering all over the path and they dont hear your bell or calls. Its like they have this right to be more important citizens than cyclists and have no duty of care.

And dont me started on dog walkers.... cycle ways or shared use paths are like freaking magnets to dog walkers where I live. They are like parasites and they look at cyclists like they have no right to be there with their 15 foot leads and no duty of care whatsoever. I'm convinced they only invade these paths so they dont have to pick up their dog crap as the dogs do it off to the side of the path in the grass or shrubbery/wasteland, which makes it okay.... scumbags.

I'm sick and tired of always exercising my duty of care, being safe, being considerate, and being friendly when the other groups of people are assholes.

I', not some cycling vigilante, I'm a car owner, dog owner and cycling enthusiast but it irks to me come across assholes when I'm out on my bike.

This article just smacks of arrogant, ignorant foot pedestrians and I wonder how many walk dogs...

posted by Critchio [96 posts]
18th May 2013 - 9:40

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