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

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.”

 

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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pj [147 posts] 3 years ago
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Agree with jon Usher.

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andybwhite [250 posts] 3 years ago
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Er.. when did this happen? On the way to school during the holidays?
Is this a retelling of an old story? If so then this should be explicitly stated as retellings give a false impression that a problem is worse than it actually is.

However, I do agree that speed should be tempered on shared use paths in the same way as motor vehicle speeds should be curtailed on roads they share with more vulnerable road users - unfortunately in the motor vehicles case the victim gets blamed and is told that they should wear protective gear.!

Using that logic I could ask was the girl wearing a hi-viz and a helmet?

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Cycle_Jim [264 posts] 3 years ago
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Ironic in a way that a cyclist is not giving due care and taking responsibility to use the path sensibly with vulnerable users in mind.

At the end of the day it says cycle path, not bloody racing track. If you wanna play fast on your bicycle do it (safely) on country roads or on a track.

On my commutes as far as I'm concerned my speed is a 'social' speed. I'm not out to beat the guy on a 15kg mountain bike to the lights, as I see quite often!

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themartincox [532 posts] 3 years ago
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Without wishing to sound all militant, but is this a shared use path or is it as the name suggests a cycle path?

surely if its a cycle path then pedestrians are a hazard shouldn't really be on there?

its official title seems to have the words cycle path in it, the local and county council dudes are both calling it a cycle path - surely there's a clue there?

but yes, why wasnt the kid wearing a helmet and hi-viz, preferably ringing a bell with every third step!

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

Without wishing to sound all militant, but is this a shared use path or is it as the name suggests a cycle path?

surely if its a cycle path then pedestrians are a hazard shouldn't really be on there?

+ 1, if it's a cycle path then why are people walking on it?

If it's a "shared path" what do they think happens when you mix people walking and people cycling?

Shared paths do not work as they mix two completely different speeds for no good reason.

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ilovemytinbred [161 posts] 3 years ago
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Shared paths are only any good for slow moving cyclists. I used to ride on a straight section when it was quiet but don't do that anymore . I realised as long as there are people not looking before moving across the path, dogs not on leads etc that it is not safe.
Realistically given the current situation the speed limit should be no more than 10mph? I would question whether the paths are suitable for any meaningful form of transport though.

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ct [191 posts] 3 years ago
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It is a shared use path...everyone should be looking out for everyone else. There is no blame here really and it is good that they are looking to re route the contentious part of the route...

But, albeit jokingly, making comments about high viz and bells for walkers really does nothing but make all cyclists seem petty and vindictive.

I also agree with Mr Usher...shared use, ride sensibly...when I go out for 'a ride' I avoid SUPs.

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Doctor Fegg [143 posts] 3 years ago
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It's a shared use path. It's fine for me as a cyclist and thousands of others, for utility and recreation purposes alike (yes, I have ridden it). That isn't to say it'll be fine for everyone, in the same way that barrelling down the A38 at 25mph isn't my style of cycling.

Statements like "shared paths don't work" are a little arrogant, really. They work fine for me. They might not for you, and that's your prerogative. But you don't speak for everyone.

If you want to ride fast in an environment where you don't have to look out for more vulnerable users, ride on the road. Is it really that hard to understand?

Quote:

its official title seems to have the words cycle path in it

No, its official title is the Festival Way. That's it. Sustrans' permanent signage here, as elsewhere on shared use paths, has both bike and pedestrian pictograms.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 3 years ago
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Doctor Fegg wrote:

Statements like "shared paths don't work" are breathtakingly arrogant. They work fine for me. They might not for you, and that's your prerogative. But sorry, you don't speak for everyone.

If you want to ride fast in an environment where you don't have to look out for more vulnerable users, ride on the road. Is it really that hard to understand?

As most? drivers seem to think cyclists should not be on the road but on the shared use path, having paths fit for purpose matters.

As for working or not working, in my experience very few are remotely fit for purpose, recycled track beds by virtue of their width are usually not too bad, they just tend to have kids and dogs running all over them. Shared use pavements tend to be a joke, street furniture, dogs, pedestrians etc etc.

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

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andybwhite [250 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

My previous comments about hi-viz were tounge-in-cheek. Sorry if you needed an emoticon to work that out.  3

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Doctor Fegg [143 posts] 3 years ago
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@mrmo: Sure, but the issue of "driver behaviour not being good enough" doesn't automatically confer a right to cycle along any path at 25mph no matter what. I agree with you entirely that there are a lot of w*nker drivers out there, but let's fix that by making the roads and the drivers better.

It's simply not possible to have a shared use path where kids on foot can play, and fast cyclists can go for Strava KOMs, at the same time. That shouldn't be a surprise: kids can't play on the A38 either.

But that doesn't mean shared use paths are of no use; it just means there's one type of cycling for which they're not suited. And it shouldn't be too surprising that type of cycling is prevalent on a site which is called road.cc after all.  3

Quote:

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

Hell yes. Complete agreement.

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CarlosFerreiro [112 posts] 3 years ago
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Not sure what kind of design we are dealing with here, it's presumably not the one in the photo?
Does the path meet the minimum design standards for shared use with the current pedestrian and cycle numbers?

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pj [147 posts] 3 years ago
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shared paths are just that, and work perfectly well.

Until some chopper on full carbon bling with zipp wheelset barrells down through ashton court, or a string of 'roadies' rip it up on the path out of long ashton.

douchebags.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 3 years ago
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Doctor Fegg wrote:

It's simply not possible to have a shared use path where kids on foot can play, and fast cyclists can go for Strava KOMs, at the same time. That shouldn't be a surprise: kids can't play on the A38 either.

i guess the question is what is the point of the path?

Take the Tarka trail between Braunton and Barnstaple in north Devon, about 5 miles long and quite wide. I could travel the full length at 5-6mph which would keep the walkers happy but i would never get anywhere. Then there is the Honeybourne Path in Cheltenham it runs between the town centre, railway station and Pitville park, far more urban far busier. I accept that i have to keep the speed down and for the distances involved i have no issue.

Quote:

But that doesn't mean shared use paths are of no use; it just means there's one type of cycling for which they're not suited.

I don't think the problem is the cyclists as such, more the user expectations. In an urban environment ALL users have to show respect, that means cyclists keeping the speed down a bit, but it also means walkers, and dog walkers have to pay attention to what is going on around them. But in a more rural environment, there are less people about speeds will be higher. Same way as a motorway is 70mph and a residential road is 30mph. but it does mean walkers have to walk in straight lines! and keep their dog on a SHORT lead.

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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Doctor Fegg wrote:

It's a shared use path. It's fine for me as a cyclist and thousands of others, for utility and recreation purposes alike (yes, I have ridden it). That isn't to say it'll be fine for everyone, in the same way that barrelling down the A38 at 25mph isn't my style of cycling.

Statements like "shared paths don't work" are a little arrogant, really. They work fine for me. They might not for you, and that's your prerogative. But you don't speak for everyone.

If you want to ride fast in an environment where you don't have to look out for more vulnerable users, ride on the road. Is it really that hard to understand?

Quote:

its official title seems to have the words cycle path in it

No, its official title is the Festival Way. That's it. Sustrans' permanent signage here, as elsewhere on shared use paths, has both bike and pedestrian pictograms.

It's not arrogant at all, it's common sense, if they worked why do these incidents keep getting reported?

They do not work, it's a fact as proven by all the incidents that happen.

Build segregated cycle paths away from pedestrian paths - problem solved.

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Doctor Fegg [143 posts] 3 years ago
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@mrmo: Excellent comment - I'd agree with all of that.

In cases of suboptimal behaviour, it's arguably incumbent on the faster user to slow down, even if ideally they shouldn't have to. Kids (as in this case) are the most difficult users to accommodate. You can't put them on leads (well, not legally) but they do tend to wander around and, hey, don't we all want more of them to walk/cycle to school unsupervised anyway?

@northstar: Yes, problem solved. Segregated paths everywhere would be awesome. But you'll have to tell me where you're going to get the £several billion to pay for that with the current shower of ****s in charge.  2

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Critchio [193 posts] 3 years ago
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ct wrote:

....There is no blame here.... .

Err, call me picky but;
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."

And nobody is to blame? C'mon man.

There was a young lass killed one time when a roadie on a personal time trial (Strava involved possibly?) rode into her on a cyclepath. I think she was 14 years old. The cyclist was an arrogant fuck who tried to blame her for not moving, jeezus christ.... Everyone has a duty of care and a cycle bell has to be fitted by law - yet how many roadie's have not bothered or say I'll shout "Cyclist" and dont feel they need a bell. The truth is they rarely do shout "Cyclist" but expect thr other party to be aware of them and move as its the cyclists 'cylce path', right? Bells are such a friendly way of warning others to your presence when you come up behind them and everyone moves for you.

All this fella had to do was slow down and ring his bell if he had one, then negotiate the people with caution. If that had been my 6 year old daughter I would have gone fucking nuts, as I'm sure every other father would in those circumstances, and i suspect those lovely carbon forks if not broken would be sticking out his lycra clad ass at a funny angle. I hope the lass is okay. You know, kids, even out with their parents and as young as 6 dont show any duty of care because, well they are 6 and dont have any. The cyclist was I gather a grown adult. Additionally, parents cannot anticipate every single thing that occurs around them and their little ones. Cyclists behind you can appear like they are ninja's, particularly if its windy.

I see a lot of "playing it down" when cyclists act like total asses and cause accidents, injuries or behave like angry louts. Yet when its a car driver its like the angry mob with pitchforks ready to burn baby, burn. Despite what you may think I am die hard cycling enthusiast and commuter, father and car driver. But when we, as cyclists, are complete twats lets say so, without playing it down, please. That cyclist was a twat and should really be stuck on for an assault in my opinion. He could have avoided that so easily and shared use paths are not going away. If you want to bomb along at 25 - 28mph with your head down and arse up dont go on them when theres other people about. Nobs.

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IanW1968 [280 posts] 3 years ago
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Few comments from people on bikes worthy of clarksonesque motorists in the daily fail.

Usually the speeding I see on shared paths are the cockeyed helmet, flapping hi viz, grimacing types who give cyclist a bad name by a) riding inappropriately fast and b) looking like twunts.

Can I suggest you get a pair of jeans and a stylish shirt for the commute, take it easy and be nice to people say hello to your fellow humans and most of all be considerate.

When you want to ride fast join a club, or get out on the road with the grown ups.

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David Milne [7 posts] 3 years ago
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Hi-vis for pedestrians? Yes, 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).

It's a well-established shared-use path and all users must look out for each other.

We cyclists can choose to ride shared-use paths or the road, and it's smart to match your speed to your ability to deal with all other users.

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andybwhite [250 posts] 3 years ago
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All the responses here seem to infer the view that the 'cyclist' in question was an adult on a grown up bike cycling too fast. I see nothing in the report that suggests this. These assumptions are purely that, assumptions based on our own view of what a cyclist is.

I put it to you that the 'cyclist' could have been a spotty 15 year old on an undersized tatty BMX riding the 200meters between his mom's and the skate-park. Does this image change our reaction to the report and to the suggested solutions? Would you expect such an individual to ride on a bike-only path, on the road, or be able to share the pavement?
Food for thought - there's shades of grey in all of this.

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ScotchPoth (not verified) [368 posts] 3 years ago
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Shared paths? what a fucking stupid idiotic idea,whoever dreamt that folly up needs shooting

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spen [131 posts] 3 years ago
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I had someone chase me down the other week on a shared use path. I was travelling at around 12 - 15 mph, slowing for dog walkers when this idiot passed me on a down hill section doing well over 20, swerving around a woman with an elderly retriever. Thing is when we rejoined the road he was over 100 metres in front of me but I passed him within 300, and I'm by no means fast (was cruising in on my Thorn Sherpa, getting the saddle a bit more broken in)

I cannot understand why people behave in this manner. How much more quickly did he arrive at his destination and I certainly wasn't impressed by his athletic prowess. I can't help wondering if it was really worth the further erosion of the reputation of cycling as a whole?

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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Doctor Fegg wrote:

@mrmo: Excellent comment - I'd agree with all of that.

In cases of suboptimal behaviour, it's arguably incumbent on the faster user to slow down, even if ideally they shouldn't have to. Kids (as in this case) are the most difficult users to accommodate. You can't put them on leads (well, not legally) but they do tend to wander around and, hey, don't we all want more of them to walk/cycle to school unsupervised anyway?

@northstar: Yes, problem solved. Segregated paths everywhere would be awesome. But you'll have to tell me where you're going to get the £several billion to pay for that with the current shower of ****s in charge.  2

You tell me.

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a.jumper [846 posts] 3 years ago
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David Milne wrote:

It's a well-established shared-use path and all users must look out for each other.

A well established path and not the recently opened Festival Way then? The rubbish bit around the back of Long Ashton and Flax Bourton housing estates that's been rebranded as part of Festival Way perhaps?

Ultimately, the council should share the blame for diverting cyclists from the deadly A370 onto a circuitous path and then acting surprised when they go too fast trying to make up time.

The rider should have slowed down but it's a substandard route, under capacity for current traffic, let alone Bristol's future expansion to the south. Cllr Ap Rees wants to be seen to be doing something but won't do it Properly.

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bikestan [2 posts] 3 years ago
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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?

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madmax [9 posts] 3 years ago
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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!1d21...

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andybwhite [250 posts] 3 years ago
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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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Mart [110 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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kie7077 [887 posts] 3 years ago
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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?

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TeamCC [146 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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