Six-year-old girl knocked over by cyclist on newly opened £2.1m Festival Way near Bristol

Shared use path's route now under reconsideration and cyclists urged to slow down

by Sarah Barth   August 18, 2013  

Flax Bourton Greenway (picture credit Sustrans)

A six year old pedestrian has been knocked over on a newly opened cycle path leading to concerns over its shared use status and appeals to cyclists to slow down.

Festival Way cycle path, a Lottery-funded £2.1m route, was opened in May, and runs along a six mile corridor stretching from the Cumberland Basin in Bristol through to Millennium Park in Nailsea.

The girl was on her way to Flax Bourton Primary School when the collision happened.

Roger Higgins, chairman of Flax Bourton Parish Council told the Weston Mercury: “Parents and children are always aware of the many cyclists that use the path and move as soon as they see or hear a cyclist.

“But it can be really hard to hear cyclists coming from behind and most don’t use a bell or say anything to warn of their presence.

“They heard some friends call out ‘bike’ but the cyclist was going so fast, and didn’t attempt to slowdown, and before the little girl had time to move he had ridden straight into her, knocking her flat and he himself fell off his bike.

“Apart from shock, the young girl sustained a nasty superficial graze to her elbow and leg, but luckily nothing worse.

“We welcome the facility of the Festival Way Cycle Path in our village – it is popular with cyclists, walkers, dog walkers, joggers and is used by a number of children attending the school, but we ask cyclists to use the facility responsibly and show respect to the many non-cycling users.”

Local residents are seeking funding to re-route part of the cycleway out of the housing estate on Rosemount Road. 

District councillor Geoff Coombs said: “The cycleway was built through the estate in the 1980s when there was a moderate level of usage, but usage has greatly increased, which is fantastic.

“However, that section is no longer appropriate because there are no pavements to segregate and there have been a number of incidents.

“The residents’ proposal involves 500m of re-routing which would cost £50,000 which is not available from North Somerset Council so we would be looking to organisations like Sustrans.”

When Festival Way opened, we reported how George Ferguson, who last year became Bristol’s first elected mayor and who now leads the city’s transport strategy, commented: "I welcome every single initiative that encourages commuters out of their cars and makes us a greener, healthier and safer city.

“A high-quality cycling link from Nailsea to Bristol will make a big difference to quality of life for all those who access it.

“All involved with this project have done a great job, choosing a clever route that forges strong links between the city and North Somerset."

Councillor Elfan Ap Rees from North Somerset Council added: "I am delighted that we can mark the official opening of this important route which at times has been a challenging project.

“We want to develop similar off-road routes in other parts of the district, for example a cycle and pedestrian link between Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon via the old railway line that used to connect the two towns many years ago."

Shared use paths in some areas provide ongoing concern for both cyclists and walkers.

Last month we reported that in an opinion piece for bristol247.com, Jon Usher of Sustrans called 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 wrote.

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.

He provoked controversy by appearing to target one set of riders in particular.

“Bikes with skinny tyres and drop handlebars are regularly ridden at excessive and frankly anti-social speeds on my daily commute. They are a cause for real concern,” he wrote.

“The sale of racing bikes [is] up across the board.

“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.

“The blurring of the lines between transport and sport means that people’s perception of us is changing. Fast moving bikes are beginning to have a negative impact on people’s perception of taking to a journey on two wheels.”

 

54 user comments

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We all need to look out for each other. If I want to go fast I ride back roads and out in to the county. On towpaths and bikepaths I happily cede to the primacy of pedestrians for the sections they frequent. They are more vulnerable than I.

I also enjoy riding city centre level 3 traffic. Part of the pleasure I derive from this is anticipating other peoples positioning and driving errors. I am more vulnerable than other vehicles and need to position myself and communicate clearly.

Can we all please get along and not be so selfish?

posted by bikestan [1 posts]
18th August 2013 - 20:58

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I ride this route every day (and have for the last 2.5 years). One of the local residents has driven her car at me twice because I wasn't using the shared path. If you don't use the recently built shared path between Flax and Long Ashton you get buzzed. EVERY TIME. Or the local residents very aggressively yell at you to use the path.

£50,000 on rerouting the route is bonkers. It's a tiny little estate that has almost no traffic. A little bit more care and consideration from people in cars and there wouldn't be a problem.

(Also, there's no excuse for riding like an idiot either. I pass those hi-viz kids every morning and it's not hard to slow down a little bit and get past them safely.)

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/preview#!q=Flax+Bourton&data=!1m4!1m3!1d2151!2d-2.6962714!3d51.423379!2m1!1e3!4m16!2m15!1m14!1s0x4871f336f75e91d9%3A0x270655148d7088e6!3m8!1m3!1d68810!2d-2.6597173!3d51.4376811!3m2!1i1280!2i664!4f13.1!4m2!3d51.4200315!4d-2.7072716!5e1&fid=7

posted by madmax [9 posts]
18th August 2013 - 21:41

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David Milne wrote:
in this case the girl WAS part of a hi-vis wearing group. (The incident happened on a school morning towards the end of the summer term).

I don't see this in the linked report. Where are you getting this info from?
Ta

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posted by andybwhite [188 posts]
18th August 2013 - 22:43

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Unfortunately this article has very little substance to it. The information it reports is vague to say the least. basically, someone on a bike of an unknown age on an unknown type of bike travelling at an unknown speed hit a young girl. There is a lot of conjecture being expressed.
Statements like this from councillors show how illogical politicians can think in that they are assuming that parents let a lone children are fully aware of their surroundings at all times.
"Roger Higgins, chairman of Flax Bourton Parish Council told the Weston Mercury: “Parents and children are always aware of the many cyclists that use the path and move as soon as they see or hear a cyclist.

“But it can be really hard to hear cyclists coming from behind and most don’t use a bell or say anything to warn of their presence."

Everybody has a duty to drive, ride and walk safely.

posted by Mart [98 posts]
18th August 2013 - 23:56

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One girl gets knocked down by one asshat on a bike and got a grazed leg and elbow. Why is this even news?

posted by kie7077 [452 posts]
19th August 2013 - 0:06

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I've noticed on shared use paths, especially along the Thames near Hammersmith where I am often, that when walking the dog I don't get much warning from cyclists. It is like there is a bell phobia. You really can't go fast as a cyclist on a shared use unless it is empty and straight. It should be treated like a ski hill, if you are faster than others then you bear the responsibility to look out, especially if you are coming up to the back of another person.

posted by TeamCC [146 posts]
19th August 2013 - 1:37

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To paraphrase one US President "Walk peacefully but carry a big stick" A pedestrian with a walking stick is ample match for a reckless cyclist, when taken by surprise. You can never tell where the end of the walking stick might end up but front forks and massive decelerations feature strongly in some scenarios.

£2.1m for 6 miles - It must be well designed and built or maybe its gold plated. A design which permits such excessive speeds is inherently hazardous, and not what should be found on a show-piece path

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [481 posts]
19th August 2013 - 2:22

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If it was designed appropriately the ability to hammer along at unreasonable speeds would not exist.

Designed - you know where people calculate appropriate radii and sighting distances, to inherently manage the speeds at which cyclists pass through a section of the path.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [481 posts]
19th August 2013 - 3:12

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TeamCC wrote:
...when walking the dog I don't get much warning from cyclists. It is like there is a bell phobia.

I used to be a bit reluctant to bell because I dislike being harangued by pedestrians who consider even a single ring as aggressive, but I've decided it's better to ring than not.

Except when there are dogs.

Too many dogs go beserk at a bell and too many people don't have them under proper control and will let them give chase!

Sorry if you'd like a bell ring and lose out because of bad owners but that's one result of shared paths...

posted by a.jumper [698 posts]
19th August 2013 - 8:10

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Turns out the same types of idiocy that can affect people when they get into cars, can also do so when they get on bicycles.

Shared-use paths are what they are. They suck, as is typical for UK cycling infrastructure, but often they're all that's there. Some cyclists prefer them to the road, some don't. Personally, I won't ever plan a long route to go along a Sustrans cycling path ever again, as the last time I did so the tow-path out of Edinburgh that I was on turned into a rutted, muddy mess, punctured only by very rough and sharp gravel that was completely unsuited for general cycling, but that's me. Wink

Cyclists who do shared-use paths should, of course, be considerate to pedestrians. They have as much right to be there as we do. Further, being the vulnerable party, they deserve and demand that extra care be taken by us, the faster cyclists. That goes double, triple, for young children!

posted by Paul J [605 posts]
19th August 2013 - 9:31

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Can you believe some idiots even put these shared cycle/pedestrian routes on Strava as segments! Cycle intelligently and you'll gain more respect from others.

posted by southseabythesea [65 posts]
19th August 2013 - 9:40

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Usher from Sustrans is right. Cyclists who treat pedestrians on shared use paths as inconveniences are no better than drivers who do the same to cyclists on the roads.

The devil's in the detail of course- pointing out that cyclists have a responsibility to show some consideration and nous on shared use paths doesn't mean that nobody else does, and there's always room for conflict in how that works.

I'm not sure that properly segregated paths will make much difference either, because pedestrians will likely still use them. And do we really want , effectively. another set of roads that pedestrians stray into at their peril?

posted by Chuck [368 posts]
19th August 2013 - 10:13

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A V Lowe wrote:

It must be well designed and built or maybe its gold plated. A design which permits such excessive speeds is inherently hazardous,

"such excessive speeds" - where are you getting this information from? the article says "too fast", it doesn't say how fast. "Too fast" can be actually surprisingly slow, it just depends on the circumstances.

People on here are making massive assumptions about the nature of this incident and conflating a minor issue (if indeed there is an issue at all) surrounding a small section of path with the whole of the cycling network.

As someone said earlier, a 6year old got a graze and an unspecified person fell off their bike without injury. It's not news and it certainly does not inform us un any way about the suitability of the nations cycling infrastructure - the number of cycling deaths and injuries does that!

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posted by andybwhite [188 posts]
19th August 2013 - 10:26

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There's a strava segment on a (non-public) road in local park, which has "sprint" in the title, which is slightly downhill and finishes right by a children's play ground. I've noted rides posting 55+ km/h there, on sunny, summer, sunday afternoons.

posted by Paul J [605 posts]
19th August 2013 - 10:29

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Paul J wrote:
There's a strava segment on a (non-public) road in local park, which has "sprint" in the title, which is slightly downhill and finishes right by a children's play ground. I've noted rides posting 55+ km/h there, on sunny, summer, sunday afternoons.

You know you can flag it if you think it's dangerous?

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posted by netclectic [118 posts]
19th August 2013 - 10:44

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interesting hotch potch of comments...
my twopenneth...

May 2012, I swapped my Motorbike for my 25yr old Dawes MTB & became a BAC. I cycled 50% on road & the rest along Canal Towpaths, into B'ham City Centre; until a silly mare took me out in a 'hit & run' in September (I was bruised, my Garmin was smashed but, the Dawes laughed in the face of her BMW Convertible).

I got back on my bike but, looked into 'official' Shared Use Paths to avoid feckless idiots like the cow who took me out.

Found Sustrans 534 route which added 2 mls to my 7ml commute but kept me away from the road I was hit on.

I freely admit to beasting that old MTB for all it's worth & my Avg Spd can be as high as 15mph along the paths/towpath BUT, I Ride Sensibly/Responsibly and with Respect; Always Slowing Down for Other Users AND Always Shout a Warning as I Approach; Usually Two (& with a Military Background, I have Good Voice Projection!)

80% of the Other Users usually react & we pass with a friendly smile or greeting...

the other 20% are either 'plugged in' or totally lost in their own little worlds; to the extent that I could throw a grenade at their feet & they wouldn't notice...

my personal favourites recently experienced are:

the Dog Walker, on a Blind Bend, with an Extendable lead extended around 10', creating a lovely rope barrier across the whole path... Great Due Care & Attention on a Shared Path!

the 3 Ladies Jogging Line Abreast & gassing to their hearts content... I slowed, shouted two warnings, had to practically stop about 3 feet from their ample derriers & then got a faceful of verbal abuse for having the audacity to interrupt them!

Or the Dog Walkers & Pedestrians I meet on a Daily Basis who just stand there and DO NOTHING, usually spread across the path; with no interest in controlling their dogs whatsoever, creating a slalom course that 'pro biker' Neil Donoghue would struggle to negotiate safely!

I'm all for Responsibility & Respect on Shared Use Paths but THAT APPLIES TO ALL USERS!

Sustrans need to look into the conduct of all Shared Path Users because it's not just a small group of Cyclists, who are the only ones behaving irresponsibly to others!

Last Point:
Why is this Article being Reported without it clearly stating that it refers to an event that happened in either June or July!?
The Headline leads to the direct assumption that it happened within last week or so; NOT while the kids were still at school!
But, any Cyclist hitting a child, whose being moved around as part of an organised group, in full HiVis; is clearly reckless & should be being interviewed by the Police...

posted by tiamovelo69 [2 posts]
19th August 2013 - 10:57

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Good to see there are some sensible comments on here mingled with the usual blether that accompanies this sort of story. Ultimately the same rule applies to any mixed traffic environment whether its the public road or a SUP: If you're going to use it, don't be a dick.

This means giving pedestrians room and notice if you're on a bike and giving bikes room if you're in a four (or more) wheeler. The same applies (possibly more so) around the unpredictable such as horses, Dogs and kids. It's not difficult folks and it makes it all's lot more pleasant if you just back off on your own self importance and chill the f*** out.

I'm a Lycra clad roadie without a bell (the world's loudest freewheel helps) who occasionally does high speeds along SUPs but I don't do it unless I can see that the path is completely clear. Anyone saying they have to go fast to make up time etc. needs to plan their day better and get out of bed earlier or accept that choosing a bicycle as a form of transport occasionally results in delays. I'm also a car driver and motorcyclist and have seen people being utter morons in all forms of transport. Speed does not need to be banned from any area wholesale, it's inappropriate speed and behaviour that's the issue.

I also live within a stones throw of Festival Way and use it most days of the week. Whilst its not effect it's better than playing with traffic. It would be nice if people remembered what they had to put up with before it was built before they start bitching about it.

posted by 5th [28 posts]
19th August 2013 - 11:28

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mrmo wrote:
The movements of a car are by and large predictable, pedestrians aren't.

Spot on Mrmo, this is the reason I don't use shared paths because they're more trouble than they are worth. I can't see the pleasure in cycling along and having to dodge pedestrians and dogs every two or three hundred metres. It's more stressful than driving a car and requires the same high level of concentration required when on a crowded motorway. Separate cycle paths are what is required not shared use.

posted by s_smith [16 posts]
19th August 2013 - 12:32

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I remember when I learned to drive in the late 90s. The roads off the beaten track - in rural Somerset - were largely empty, especially during the day in the summer holidays and late in the evening. You could drive however fast you liked, basically, and it was wonderful. Now I live in greater London, and I can't remember the last time I drove anywhere without essentially following other traffic the whole time.

It is a sad fact that there are times when the duration of your cycle journey is not a simple function of your fitness. Traffic lights, other traffic, and other users of your chosen route may hold you up: but they were there first and you should give way courteously.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [825 posts]
19th August 2013 - 12:40

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If the proposal to move to 'presumed responsibility' is introduced then the blame for this incident would be with the cyclist. That is how I understood the law when I lived in Germany for 5 years.

On mixed use paths (and there are plenty in Germany too) the acceptance of hierarchy slows you down very quickly and ramps up awareness.

It's not diffcult to understand is it - ride too fast, out of control & you are a danger to others in the same environment.

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posted by Bikesoup [22 posts]
19th August 2013 - 12:41

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tiamovelo69 wrote:

Sustrans need to look into the conduct of all Shared Path Users

I don't understand why Sustrans should do this. They promote, provide and maintain cycling and walking infrastructure, they're not legislators, they're not the police. Don't suggest they have some sort of responsibility where they don't. B&Q aren't responsible for the pigeons shitting on my decking!

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posted by andybwhite [188 posts]
19th August 2013 - 13:12

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5th wrote:
I'm a Lycra clad roadie without a bell (the world's loudest freewheel helps) ... Anyone saying they have to go fast to make up time etc. needs to plan their day better and get out of bed earlier or accept that choosing a bicycle as a form of transport occasionally results in delays. ... it's inappropriate speed and behaviour that's the issue.

Inappropriate behaviour like having no bell, perhaps?

I'm not saying that anyone has to go fast to make up time - I'm saying that it was forseeable that they would. This conflict is a sad consequence of diverting fast roadies from an inadequate road (A370) to an inadequate-when-built cycle track (NCN 33) instead of either providing a good enough cycle track or making the A370 safer for fast bicycles. The teflon tories who are the only party to ever have a majority on North Somerset Council should be encouraged to start building its transport systems fit for purpose before more people are killed. Those badly-compromised paths they keep providing are too little too late.

posted by a.jumper [698 posts]
19th August 2013 - 13:41

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madmax wrote:
I ride this route every day (and have for the last 2.5 years). One of the local residents has driven her car at me twice because I wasn't using the shared path. If you don't use the recently built shared path between Flax and Long Ashton you get buzzed. EVERY TIME. Or the local residents very aggressively yell at you to use the path.

which path? the one along the main road? the new one?

i've never used it and never been buzzed by anyone.

posted by pj [139 posts]
19th August 2013 - 16:40

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andybwhite wrote:
What I am hearing in these discussions is that in a shared use environment, speeds should be reduced to near those of the most vulnerable user. If they can't then the modes should be separated i.e. walkway and separate cycle path.

Surely the same principles should then also apply to roads. Low speeds if shared use, otherwise separation.

love it. all roads should be reduced to 20mph to meet the speed of the most vulnerable user - the cyclist. seeing as most cyclists wouldnt often go above 20mph it should work perfectly. (especially in london where going above 20mph is pretty dangerous anyway due to the number of pedestrians who dont know how to cross th road)

Feel the fear and do it anyway

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posted by hood [117 posts]
19th August 2013 - 17:02

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I think I see a solution here:

Stop using government/lottery funds to create 'cycle paths'.

It's clearly not possible to build a utilitarian cycle route for people who want/need to cycle, as soon as one is built it becomes a 'linear park', 'shared use facility' , 'greenway', 'park', 'picnic site' anything but whatever it was described as to secure funding.

As a cyclists I feel I am under attack from all parties in a way that I am not when I am a pedestrian or a motorist:

When I'm walking I am not told I am too fast or too slow or I shouldn't cross the road, or I should stick to urban areas only. When I am driving in urban areas I easily drive at speeds that I would find hard to reach on a bicycle, yet as a cyclist I am too slow, too fast, too bright, not bright enough, riding the wrong bike, constantly open to criticism.

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posted by the_mikey [146 posts]
19th August 2013 - 18:12

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the_mikey wrote:
I think I see a solution here:

Stop using government/lottery funds to create 'cycle paths'.

It's clearly not possible to build a utilitarian cycle route for people who want/need to cycle, as soon as one is built it becomes a 'linear park', 'shared use facility' , 'greenway', 'park', 'picnic site' anything but whatever it was described as to secure funding.

As a cyclists I feel I am under attack from all parties in a way that I am not when I am a pedestrian or a motorist:

When I'm walking I am not told I am too fast or too slow or I shouldn't cross the road, or I should stick to urban areas only. When I am driving in urban areas I easily drive at speeds that I would find hard to reach on a bicycle, yet as a cyclist I am too slow, too fast, too bright, not bright enough, riding the wrong bike, constantly open to criticism.

Sorted, Its all your fault...job done now lets move on and positively promote "sharing"...paths, roads whichever it is...the word is share...and I was an only child..

lifes goal is not to arrive at the grave in a perfectly preserved body, but to skid in sideways yelling "yeah what a ride!"

posted by wheelsucker [44 posts]
19th August 2013 - 19:21

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a.jumper wrote:
Inappropriate behaviour like having no bell, perhaps?

I say again, loud freewheel. If you don't know how quickly it makes people turn round, you need a Hope rear hub on your bike - much better at getting attention than some of the ultra-minimalist bells I've seen people sporting. When that fails I use the same technique as tiamovelo69 - military shouting training. The only SUP users impervious to it are podestrians (and similarly plugged in cyclists), but there's no helping some people.

posted by 5th [28 posts]
19th August 2013 - 20:13

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wheelsucker wrote:
the_mikey wrote:
I think I see a solution here:

Stop using government/lottery funds to create 'cycle paths'.

It's clearly not possible to build a utilitarian cycle route for people who want/need to cycle, as soon as one is built it becomes a 'linear park', 'shared use facility' , 'greenway', 'park', 'picnic site' anything but whatever it was described as to secure funding.

As a cyclists I feel I am under attack from all parties in a way that I am not when I am a pedestrian or a motorist:

When I'm walking I am not told I am too fast or too slow or I shouldn't cross the road, or I should stick to urban areas only. When I am driving in urban areas I easily drive at speeds that I would find hard to reach on a bicycle, yet as a cyclist I am too slow, too fast, too bright, not bright enough, riding the wrong bike, constantly open to criticism.

Sorted, Its all your fault...job done now lets move on and positively promote "sharing"...paths, roads whichever it is...the word is share...and I was an only child..

The problem is the other two groups (motorist and pedestrians) don't know how to share and don't want to. Why waste money on trying to persuade them to do otherwise, the money would be better used on cycle only paths.

posted by s_smith [16 posts]
20th August 2013 - 10:39

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Also agree with Jon Usher.

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posted by harman_mogul [121 posts]
20th August 2013 - 11:12

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If you need to keep cyclists' speeds down, why not build cycle-specific speed bumps? They're all over the place on shared-use paths in the Netherlands:

...it's very hard to ride fast over them unless you have the skill to treat them as a pair of doubles and to clear the gap in between them, and they're fairly easy to walk over as a pedestrian.

posted by Pierre [79 posts]
20th August 2013 - 16:07

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