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Darlington councillors decide against town centre bike ban

No wish to ‘penalise the majority for the actions of a few’

Members of Darlington council have agreed that cyclists can continue to use the town centre, reports the Advertiser. A number of councillors had called for a ban following an incident in which a pensioner was left with life-changing brain injuries.

Brian Coates, 74, suffered serious head injuries and lost the ability to communicate following a fall in the town centre in September. Witnesses suggested that the incident may have been caused by a group of young cyclists seen nearby who may have startled or struck him. In the wake of the incident, 724 people signed a petition calling for a ban on cycling in the town centre.

Speaking at the time, Councillor Alan Coultas claimed that fear of such incidents was preventing people from shopping in the town centre.

“On behalf of Mr Coates’ family and all those fearful of shopping in Darlington because of the danger of being struck by a bike, I am calling on the council to begin the process of banning cycling in the town centre pedestrian heart.”

However, at a recent meeting, Councillor Dorothy Long concluded that an outright ban would be unenforceable and would “penalise the majority for the actions of a few”. There was reported to have been just one incident of a cyclist colliding with a pedestrian between January 2009 and October 2014.

Councillor Nick Wallis, cabinet member for leisure and environment, also said that banning cyclists might create more problems than it solved. “Yes there are potential issues with pedestrians, but the impact on cyclists by driving them out on to the ring road is potentially far more serious.”

The council’s cabinet did however make a series of recommendations, including increased police focus on antisocial cyclists and improved signage.

Coultas called for a risk assessment to be undertaken and suggested that cyclists should get off and walk in the town centre.

“The point was made that cycling on pavements is illegal but what we have created with this pedestrian heart is essentially a big pavement. Another point that this report doesn’t take into account is that there is a simple solution to this problem – that is to require cyclists to dismount and walk across the pedestrian heart.”

Councillor Heather Scott also remained convinced that cyclists were a problem, saying: “I myself have almost had incidents where cyclists have come up behind me. On a Saturday they weave in and out of the pedestrians. They have no consideration for people who are older than me who can’t get out of the way quick enough.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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