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Charity also calls for Strava to highlight 'inappropriate' traffic-free routes...

Sustrans has told cyclists not to race on shared use paths, telling riders to slow down or even keep off traffic-free paths, which are also used by pedestrians and wheelchair users.

The sustainable transport charity has also called for apps like Strava, which allow cyclists to virtually race each other and their own best times, to highlight routes that are deemed inappropriate for riding fast on.

According to Sustrans themselves: "evidence shows that conflict between cyclists and pedestrians on walking and cycling routes is rare, but irresponsible behaviour by a small minority can be unsettling."

Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans’ Chief Executive, said: “Traffic-free walking and cycling paths are not the place for reckless cycling speed demons; they cater to a variety of users by providing a safe, non-threatening environment to travel in.

“The anti-social behaviour of a very small number of cyclists is making everyone feel less safe – it would be great for the online community to take action by pointing the finger at people doing the wrong thing.

“As we continue to campaign for greater respect on our roads, its vital those of us using bikes give respect to everyone, and slow down on walking and cycling paths”

CTC spokeman Roger Geffen was in broad agreement with Sustrans, saying: “CTC strongly supports responsible behaviour by all road users, drivers and cyclists alike.

“Equally though, walkers can feel as intimated by fast cycling on shared-use paths as cyclists are by fast driving.

“In particular, people with physical or sensory disabilities have a right to enjoy the great outdoors without being startled, even if they aren’t actually endangered.

“As cyclists, we need to show them the same respect that we want drivers to show us on the roads.”

Sustrans has designed a cyclist's code of conduct, which you can read here.

The advice for cyclists is:

  • Give way to pedestrians and wheelchair users;
  • Take care around horse-riders, leaving them plenty of room, especially when approaching from behind;
  • Be courteous and patient with pedestrians and other path users who are moving more slowly than you – shared paths are for sharing, not speeding;
  • Cycle at a sensible speed and do not use the paths for recording times with challenge apps or for fitness training;
  • Slow down when space is limited or if you cannot see clearly ahead;
  • Be particularly careful at junctions, bends, entrances onto the path, or any other ‘blind spots’ where people (including children) could appear in front of you without warning;
  • Keep to your side of any dividing line;
  • Carry a bell and use it, or an audible greeting, to avoid surprising people or horses;
  • However, don’t assume people can see or hear you – remember that many people are hard of hearing or visually impaired;
  • In dull and dark weather make sure you have lights so you can be seen.

It's not the first time Sustrans has spoken out about shared use paths; in fact you could say it is something of a campaign.

Just last week we reported how in an opinion piece for bristol247.com, Jon Usher of Sustrans calls for some cyclists to slow down, lest we all be “perceived by pedestrians in the same way we perceive cars. We are becoming the menace that needs taming,” he writes - something we noted was based on opinon rather than evidence.

Usher, the Sustrans area manager for Bristol, Bath and South Glos, writes that he thinks the recent increase in popularity of fast road bikes is damaging the perception of bike riders.

“The sale of racing bikes [is] up across the board,” he says, as the success of British cyclists inspires people to take to two wheels and drop handlebars. “However, this surge in sporting goods for leisure is percolating rapidly through to the urban cycling for transport realms.

“This transition has meant a shift from a relatively slow, cumbersome machine in urban environments to something much faster.”

In February, the charity highlighted an incident involving a dog and a bike to make the case that all users of shared paths should take more care, and in December warned cyclists, and in particular those using Strava-like apps, that pedestrians had priority on shared use paths.

In May we reported that Sustrans had threatened that barriers would 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.

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

54 comments

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CraigS [129 posts] 2 years ago
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Sustrans need a good hard think about their mission statement. If they exist to build leisure routes, that's fine. If they want to promote sustainable transport though then cyclists need fast, safe routes to make the bike as viable an option as the car.

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koko56 [330 posts] 2 years ago
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CraigS wrote:

Sustrans need a good hard think about their mission statement. If they exist to build leisure routes, that's fine. If they want to promote sustainable transport though then cyclists need fast, safe routes to make the bike as viable an option as the car.

Think you are missing the point. Doing 40kph to get some segment where people walk and with dogs/ babies etc is retarded.

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festival [105 posts] 2 years ago
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koko56 wrote:
CraigS wrote:

Sustrans need a good hard think about their mission statement. If they exist to build leisure routes, that's fine. If they want to promote sustainable transport though then cyclists need fast, safe routes to make the bike as viable an option as the car.

Think you are missing the point. Doing 40kph to get some segment where people walk and with dogs/ babies etc is retarded.

Well said koko56!

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colinth [191 posts] 2 years ago
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festival wrote:
koko56 wrote:
CraigS wrote:

Sustrans need a good hard think about their mission statement. If they exist to build leisure routes, that's fine. If they want to promote sustainable transport though then cyclists need fast, safe routes to make the bike as viable an option as the car.

Think you are missing the point. Doing 40kph to get some segment where people walk and with dogs/ babies etc is retarded.

Well said!

+1

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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What we have here is the fundamental failure of shared use paths, Bikes do not mix with pedestrians. Shared use is not the way forward. Cars and bikes work better than pedestrians and bikes in most situations.

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nbrus [293 posts] 2 years ago
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colinth wrote:
festival wrote:
koko56 wrote:
CraigS wrote:

Sustrans need a good hard think about their mission statement. If they exist to build leisure routes, that's fine. If they want to promote sustainable transport though then cyclists need fast, safe routes to make the bike as viable an option as the car.

Think you are missing the point. Doing 40kph to get some segment where people walk and with dogs/ babies etc is retarded.

Well said!

+1

+1  1

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mattsccm [327 posts] 2 years ago
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The idea is not to create fast safe routes. Just safe ones.

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shay cycles [318 posts] 2 years ago
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Mrmo - I'm not convinced about bikes and pedestrians not mixing just like I'm not convinced about bikes and motor vehicles not mixing.

What I am sure about is that most cycle paths and shared paths are not designed for high speed.

If I commute relatively steadily I often use shared paths and slow down for other users of any kind. If I want to get to work in a hurry I simply use the fastest route which is roads designed for traffic at up to 30 mph.

The problem on the roads is exactly the same as on shared paths and it is that a few irresponsible people go too quickly for the conditions and take too little care. Would it be any surprise to find those same people who cycle too fast around pedestrians also driving too fast around cyclists, pedestrians and other road users? I don't think so.

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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Shay, my starting point is if i want to get to work. I do use a section of shared use path, and i do keep the speed down. It is only a mile and the alternative on the road would take longer.

Problem is if i want to travel any distance i want to do it at a reasonable speed, pedestrians, loose dogs, kids etc. are very unpredictable, i may not like sharing roads with cars but on the whole they are predictable, they don't jump out in front of me from the hedges, they don't just step sideways, etc.

When i say pedestrians and cyclists don't mix it is in that way.

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SteppenHerring [328 posts] 2 years ago
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I am not sure of the purpose of Sustrans - except to spend government money. With a few exceptions, their routes don't take me from anywhere I am to anywhere I want to be or at the speed I want to go. Fair enough, not everybody wants to go quickly but Sustrans routes seem, almost exclusively for "leisure" cycling rather than actively useful as transport (as ChrisS says).

The monobrowed Clarksonites who tell you to "get on the cycle path" (full of dogs, pedestrians, broken glass etc.) seem to think we should be forced to use them all the time. Even when they rarely go anywhere useful.

Yes, cycling at speed on a shared path is stupid. In fact, IIRC, the police guidance is not to use shared paths if you're going to be doing more than about 12mph. Creating Strava segments on shared use paths even more so - but it's a useful reminder that stupidity is not confined to people who use one particular form of transport.

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Metjas [361 posts] 2 years ago
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this whole issue seems to be based around a few incidents where people or dogs have felt intimidated by some irresponsible speeding cyclists who we all know are a small minority, and who probably behave similarly when they are driving their cars instead. Some perspective is needed I feel. Storm and teacup come to mind.

As pointed out above, shared paths may not be such a good idea and if you need to get somewhere quickly, use the road instead rather than bombing down a path on your bike.

I would certainly encourage anyone who comes across a Strava segment that is part of a shared pedestrian/cycling route to report it as inappropriate to Strava so it no longer shows a leader board. That may discourage a few but will not solve the issue - you do not need to be a Strava user to be a speed freak!

I certainly expect Sustrans to make equally vociferous protestations when it comes to promoting and protecting the use of cycling (routes) in a world dominated by the car.

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Dropped [82 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

What we have here is the fundamental failure of shared use paths, Bikes do not mix with pedestrians. Shared use is not the way forward. Cars and bikes work better than pedestrians and bikes in most situations.

Not if you're a willy waving macho Strava dick head maybe, but for people who have a modicum of social awareness with a touch of patience, using shared use paths is perfectly workable.

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james-o [232 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

If they want to promote sustainable transport though then cyclists need fast, safe routes to make the bike as viable an option as the car.

Not sure about the fast bit. It's too subjective and conditions vary. Sustrans routes aren't about 'speed', and shouldn't be. It's about inclusive use and car-free, low-risk travel.

Quote:

Shared use is not the way forward. Cars and bikes work better than pedestrians and bikes in most situations.

I get your later point on this, but give you 'mostly, the rest of Europe' ime as a counter-argument. Brits seem to be the issue somehow, not the facility, any particular user group or general shared-use route idea. Probably down to a too-common lack of experience over time from all parties.

Strava is a distraction, it's just a website that gets misused and shows a few riders are idiots. They should take more responsibility over what can be set as a segment but that's an old and separate issue. Lazy programmers maybe.

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Gkam84 [9080 posts] 2 years ago
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I often have to share the Sustrans Route 195 with anything but pedestrians.

Its common for me to come upon horses, cows and sheep being moved fields instead of using the bridges provided, the farmers just take the most direct route. Leaving crap all over the path, tractors, quad bikes, deer.

Why is it even listed under the Sustrans brand when they are building a "national cycling network" Get these animals (except horses) and vehicles off the paths....

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BBB [343 posts] 2 years ago
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CraigS wrote:

Sustrans need a good hard think about their mission statement. If they exist to build leisure routes, that's fine. If they want to promote sustainable transport though then cyclists need fast, safe routes to make the bike as viable an option as the car.

1+

Reckless speeding idiots aside, shared paths are certainly suitable for families and other slow riders but don't make much sense for an uninterrupted long distance commute at 17-20mph e.g. as an alternative to a car journey.

I appreciate what Sustrans is doing generally but in a longer run cycle paths should be what motorways are for cars. They should enable you to get from A to B fast and safe without too much interruption.
Plenty of examples from Europe of how it should be done.

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CotterPin [63 posts] 2 years ago
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+1

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KiwiMike [1160 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

What we have here is the fundamental failure of shared use paths, Bikes do not mix with pedestrians. Shared use is not the way forward. Cars and bikes work better than pedestrians and bikes in most situations.

How about you visit the Netherlands and go for a ride before making such a spectacularly wrong-headed statement?

In fact, this is a joke, right? a parody of the 'vehicular cyclist' BS that's been subscribed to by UK Transport planners so successfully for the last 30 years?

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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KiwiMike, read the clarification. Pedestrians and cyclists do not mix if the cyclist is trying to get anywhere above walking speed. Bikes are traffic and shoud be treated as such. Cyclists are not pedestrians on bicycles but vehicles. Pedestrians are far more manouverable and totally unpredictable, and when you throw loose dogs into the mix! Having been bitten twice on shared paths by loose dogs i am not impressed by sustrans targeting cyclists rather than dealing with dog mess and off leads!

If sustrans wants to create leisure routes then they are doing a good job, if they are trying to create sus(tainable) trans(port) routes then they are failing. They should be looking at the longer routes and how they can actually function. A cyclist travelling at 15-16mph, is too quick for many shared paths, but it is the sort of speed a moderately fit cyclist is likely to be traveling at.

Engineer to deal with how humans work, don't assume people will change to fit your rules. Why do we have speed humps? because some drivers will break the rules. If you want to slow bikes down then engineer the route to do it. If that means cobbles and not smooth tarmac then that is the way they will have to go.

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meves [8 posts] 2 years ago
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Sustrans was developed for the "delivery of ambitious but achievable cycling, walking and sustainable travel change."

Given that footpaths are very well catered for across the country and that safe cycling routes are under invested and underdeveloped. Maybe they should give a more balanced view of the issues and tackle both sides rather than tackle one part of the issue. By giving one path user priority Sustrans is making a rod for its own back and increasing the potential for conflict and the idea of "shared" should mean equal standing for all path users.

However I agreed with both statements, cyclists do need to be aware and respectful of pedestrians by managing their speed and giving the pedestrians a wide berth, but that is far from the whole story.

Pedestrians need to have a level of respect and awareness too, which currently they are totally lacking.

They should not:

Dogs should always be on leads
Dogs should not be allowed on long or extendible leads.
Pedestrians should keep to the side of the path
Pedestrians should not walk in groups across the whole path
Pedestrians should not listen to music that will make them unable to hear other path users.

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spatuluk [27 posts] 2 years ago
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It's a tiny bit like the old class sketch, isn't it?

Cleese (motorist): I terrorize him (looks down), because I am in a car.
Barker (cyclist): I am afraid of him (looks up), because he is in a car, but I terrorize him (looks down), because I am on a bike.
Corbett (pedestrian): I am afraid.

If we want respect from motorists, we should show respect to pedestrians. Be kind to those less speedy than yourself.

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spatuluk [27 posts] 2 years ago
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meves wrote:

Pedestrians should keep to the side of the path
Pedestrians should not walk in groups across the whole path
Pedestrians should not listen to music that will make them unable to hear other path users.

Did you copy this from a motorist's rant, replacing 'cyclist' with 'pedestrian'?

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meves [8 posts] 2 years ago
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spatuluk wrote:
meves wrote:

Pedestrians should keep to the side of the path
Pedestrians should not walk in groups across the whole path
Pedestrians should not listen to music that will make them unable to hear other path users.

Did you copy this from a motorist's rant, replacing 'cyclist' with 'pedestrian'?

No, fortunately I have the ability to think for myself. If you read above then I did state that (and I quote)

"cyclists do need to be aware and respectful of pedestrians by managing their speed and giving the pedestrians a wide berth"

I was trying to make the item more balanced and point out that this is not a single sided issues

I drive, cycle and walk and I'm always considerate (yes I even keep to one side when walking to allow others past).

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qwerky [184 posts] 2 years ago
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In terms of riding a bike, there are many different people making many different types of journey. I was going to list some examples but there are just too many. Even breaking down into groups such as leisure cyclists, commuters, etc doesn't work as these are extremely diverse.

A leisure cyclist could be someone on a road bike doing a sportive, or a dad on a shopping bike taking his toddler to the park. A commuter could be someone riding a single-speed 20 miles into central London, or someone riding a mountain bike one mile to school/college/University. I am/have been all of these cyclists. In the week I am one, at the weekend I am another. Today I am this one, tomorrow I am another one.

I think part of the problem is that the term 'cyclist' is being used as a massive generalisation. A cyclist is not a cyclist is not a cyclist. The term 'cyclist' encompasses a huge variety of people; the term 'cycling' encompasses a huge variety of activities. All have different needs and different requirements.

There is no one solution to making cycling 'better', but at least Sustrans are trying in one important area. They really care about off-road infrastructure and they see it as a major part of their job to campaign for it. Good on them and I say keep it up.

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Doctor Fegg [143 posts] 2 years ago
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BBB wrote:

Reckless speeding idiots aside, shared paths are certainly suitable for families and other slow riders but don't make much sense for an uninterrupted long distance commute at 17-20mph e.g. as an alternative to a car journey.

Indeed. But the number of people who are capable of keeping up a 17-20mph speed on their commute, and can afford the bike that will permit them to do this, is tiny. I certainly can't. When I commuted by bike (I now work from home, yay) 10-12mph was more like it; part of this was on a shared-use path and we all got along fine.

Sustrans want to encourage mass cycling, and the way to do that is not by spending disproportionate amounts of time and money on the tiny minority who can hit 20mph and for whom existing roads are largely good enough. Don't forget that Sustrans' stated focus is the sub-5 mile "local journey", where 20mph won't make much difference, not the 20-mile commute.

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a.jumper [846 posts] 2 years ago
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The code for cyclists is fine, mostly repeats of the highway code. The presentation is rubbish and where are the equivalent codes calling for walkers to behave, for cars not to park blocking the bleeding paths and for animals (dogs and cattle) to be kept under control on the routes? Sustrans seem to be losing the plot and attacking the growing number of people riding bikes who don't believe in Sustrans: first are the road bikes - what next? An attack on goods bikes, saying you've no place using their paths if you are making deliveries?

I'd like the government to invest in routes generally capable of supporting 18mph unladen and wide enough for overtaking, because that would also mean I could use them to carry my shopping home at 10mph without it all being bounced around like crazy, trying to fall off my bike or being strapped down so tight it gets crushed or bruised to hell.

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tired old fart [77 posts] 2 years ago
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a.jumper wrote:

The code for cyclists is fine, mostly repeats of the highway code. The presentation is rubbish and where are the equivalent codes calling for walkers to behave, for cars not to park blocking the bleeding paths and for animals (dogs and cattle) to be kept under control on the routes? Sustrans seem to be losing the plot and attacking the growing number of people riding bikes who don't believe in Sustrans: first are the road bikes - what next? An attack on goods bikes, saying you've no place using their paths if you are making deliveries?

I'd like the government to invest in routes generally capable of supporting 18mph unladen and wide enough for overtaking, because that would also mean I could use them to carry my shopping home at 10mph without it all being bounced around like crazy, trying to fall off my bike or being strapped down so tight it gets crushed or bruised to hell.

completely agree

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sfichele [140 posts] 2 years ago
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Some number crunching:
Holland has 35,000 km of segregated cycleways.

The Sustrans cycle-network consists of around 20,000 km, but more than 70% of that is on road.

Given the UK population is around 60M and Holland's is around 16M, that means per person, Holland has more than

---------------------------------------
- 20 times the amount of cycleways.
---------------------------------------

... and the vast majority of the Sustrans network is SHARED, whilst in Holland most of it is segregated from pedestrians.

The real story is how piss-poor the UK is for cycle-infrastructure. Yes it's wrong to be using Strava on some of these paths, or go too quickly around pedestrians, but we have very few real cycleways here in the UK and the vast majority put you in contention with dog-walkers and children.

We desperately need to get our act together in the UK and replicate the real cycleways that they have in Holland. However, if we are just gonna build more narrow, shared routes that lead to contention then what's the point

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STATO [493 posts] 2 years ago
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Doctor Fegg wrote:

Sustrans want to encourage mass cycling, and the way to do that is not by spending disproportionate amounts of time and money on the tiny minority who can hit 20mph and for whom existing roads are largely good enough. Don't forget that Sustrans' stated focus is the sub-5 mile "local journey", where 20mph won't make much difference, not the 20-mile commute.

Yes, but the problem is this 'provision' is then useless for those people wanting to actually get somewhere. Who then get harrassed if we dont use it (drivers) or called 'strava-d**ks' if we do.

Sustrans is good at what it does, but what it does is not suitable for many. Hence why they have had to put out this statement.

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Doctor Fegg [143 posts] 2 years ago
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@STATO: Agreed, except for the phrase "people wanting to actually get somewhere". I actually get somewhere on my bike (I sold the car and travel everywhere by bike, bus and train now), I just do it less quickly than you... and I'd wager that my cycling speed is closer to the average than yours.

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Ting [58 posts] 2 years ago
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Both roads and shared paths vary, different speeds are appropriate depending on location, time of day, surface, width etc etc. I regularly commute 25m e/w. Sometimes on 70mph dual carraigeway, urban rds, single track country lanes, urban shared paths & shared paths where there's no entry / exit for long stretches.
I'm often at 20+mph on a shared paths when it's not busy, it's straight, wide, I can seen/be seen etc.
I think the 'campaign' which is based on responsibility is entirely appropriate -there is a growing number of irresponsible cyclists generally - not just on shared paths. Road bikes can be very quick and are dangerous if not ridden responsibly.
The Code of conduct is sound and is basic common sense and courtesy. I can still commute fast and not contravene any part of the code.

Just follow the code.

If you really want to stretch your legs with not much chance that you'll have to slow down for others, then that's going to put you on a main road!
I think Sustrans do an absolutely fantastic job at providing safe travel networks which CAN be used by fast and slow alike.

Just follow the code.

It’s quite simple really.

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