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UCL seeks feedback on shared use paths

University College London wants to gauge how comfortable people feel walking and cycling on unsegregated paths together

----This article has been updated----

UCL is asking to hear people’s opinions on mixed use paths – routes where both cyclists and pedestrians use the same space.

Researchers at UCL are carrying out the survey, supported by Sustrans, to find out what they think of paths were people cycling and walking share space without any measure of segregation between them. There are two surveys – one from a pedestrian’s point of view, one from the point of view of cyclists.

The research is intended to gauge how comfortable people feel using mixed use paths, and how people’s experiences of such routes can be improved.

Sustrans responds to government cycling and walking investment strategy with five-year strategy of its own

While shared use paths can enable both users to make use of the full width of a path, they are not without their critics.

The survey takes 20 minutes to complete and includes 48 short videos of between three and eight seconds. Researchers say this number of videos is necessary to accurately gauge understanding of users’ preferences.

The short, seven second clips present artificially designed scenarios of people travelling on mixed use paths, and ask participants to rate their comfort level for each.

Participants are also given the chance to enter a prize draw with prizes of £150, £75 and £35.

You can take part in the pedestrian survey here, and the cyclist survey here.

The article was corrected on 7 August 2017; previously it said the survey was being carried out on behalf of Sustrans. Sustrans confirmed it is simply helping promote the survey and admitted the web page introduction to UCL's survey is "slightly confusing" regarding its involvement.

A Sustrans' Press Officer told road.cc: "I just wanted to clarify a few things as the front page of the survey is slightly confusing in terms of our involvement. It’s not our research, it is ULC research  - we are supporting the study in so far as we have engaged and we do sit on the steering group but it’s not our survey and we will not be processing the data, though we do hope to learn from the findings."

Sustrans is the national cycling and walking charity, responsible for, among other things, maintaining and expanding the National Cycle Network. 

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49 comments

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rogermerriman | 6 years ago
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Thats a poor survey isn't it like one of the other posters I had to re read it a few times to work out what they ment!

 

In terms of shared paths and good/bad locally use them to commute and so on, it's fine just take your time, only things I worry about is dogs on retractable leads!

 

I do get that in many ways sustrans/cycling uk and so on claim to represent cyclists is on shaky ground in that both have quite a narrow view point.

 

And having been around when some shared paths where put in, and some of the quite clearly untruth claims mainly that X path will be a commmuter route, when it's quite clearly leisure route and hardly heavly used at that! 

 

But equally some of the other stuff is good or good enough.

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srchar | 6 years ago
1 like

Why do they even need to ask if wobbling through hordes of pedestrians at walking pace constitutes an uncomfortable place to cycle? Morons.

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brooksby | 6 years ago
0 likes

Wow:Sustrans distancing themselves from this  survey pretty quickly. Do they read below the line on road.cc...?

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oldstrath | 6 years ago
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Couldn't be bothered I'm afraid - the first question asks me to imagine that a Sustrans creation could be the fastest, most direct route. Sorry, no can do.

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ClubSmed | 6 years ago
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Just in case people here had not realised or forgotton, Sustrans is not a cycling lobby group. It is there to promote cycling AND walking.

This may be where a lot of the negativity is coming from, maybe people expect more exclusive cycling areas? As Sustrans exist to promote cycling and walking then it's not really going to happen like that.

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oldstrath replied to ClubSmed | 6 years ago
1 like

ClubSmed wrote:

Just in case people here had not realised or forgotton, Sustrans is not a cycling lobby group. It is there to promote cycling AND walking.

This may be where a lot of the negativity is coming from, maybe people expect more exclusive cycling areas? As Sustrans exist to promote cycling and walking then it's not really going to happen like that.

Actually what woukdbe nice is properly sustainable transport. Saying they exist to promote cycling and walking doesn't excuse offering up a muddy field as a national cycle route. The comparison with what is done in the Netherlands or the better areas of Germany is deeply depressing.

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burtthebike replied to ClubSmed | 6 years ago
1 like

ClubSmed wrote:

Just in case people here had not realised or forgotton, Sustrans is not a cycling lobby group. It is there to promote cycling AND walking.

And horseriding.

Let's not forget that they got the grant to start to provide an National Cycle Network, not a National Walking Network or a National Horse Network.  OK, there was never going to be enough money and the time limits were ludicrous, but we don't have a National Cycle Network.  So why isn't Sustrans creating merry bloody hell, and not just rolling over on its back to have its tummy rubbed?

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davel replied to burtthebike | 6 years ago
1 like
burtthebike wrote:

ClubSmed wrote:

Just in case people here had not realised or forgotton, Sustrans is not a cycling lobby group. It is there to promote cycling AND walking.

And horseriding.

Let's not forget that they got the grant to start to provide an National Cycle Network, not a National Walking Network or a National Horse Network.  OK, there was never going to be enough money and the time limits were ludicrous, but we don't have a National Cycle Network.  So why isn't Sustrans creating merry bloody hell, and not just rolling over on its back to have its tummy rubbed?

Yeah, add horseshit to the mud too.

For some reason (it's second-hand straw?) it's not socially unacceptable to deposit elephant-sized turds on the NCN and then not bother clearing it up.

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brooksby replied to davel | 6 years ago
0 likes

davel wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

ClubSmed wrote:

Just in case people here had not realised or forgotton, Sustrans is not a cycling lobby group. It is there to promote cycling AND walking.

And horseriding.

Let's not forget that they got the grant to start to provide an National Cycle Network, not a National Walking Network or a National Horse Network.  OK, there was never going to be enough money and the time limits were ludicrous, but we don't have a National Cycle Network.  So why isn't Sustrans creating merry bloody hell, and not just rolling over on its back to have its tummy rubbed?

Yeah, add horseshit to the mud too. For some reason (it's second-hand straw?) it's not socially unacceptable to deposit elephant-sized turds on the NCN and then not bother clearing it up.

Wow - people ride elephants where you live?  There's posh...

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davel replied to brooksby | 6 years ago
0 likes

brooksby wrote:

davel wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

ClubSmed wrote:

Just in case people here had not realised or forgotton, Sustrans is not a cycling lobby group. It is there to promote cycling AND walking.

And horseriding.

Let's not forget that they got the grant to start to provide an National Cycle Network, not a National Walking Network or a National Horse Network.  OK, there was never going to be enough money and the time limits were ludicrous, but we don't have a National Cycle Network.  So why isn't Sustrans creating merry bloody hell, and not just rolling over on its back to have its tummy rubbed?

Yeah, add horseshit to the mud too. For some reason (it's second-hand straw?) it's not socially unacceptable to deposit elephant-sized turds on the NCN and then not bother clearing it up.

Wow - people ride elephants where you live?  There's posh...

I prefer 'exotic'...   1

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ClubSmed | 6 years ago
1 like

Is the issue that most people here have actually with the way SUSTRANS are run or is it about how little they are able to achieve with their limited budget?

Personally I travel on shared paths (canal, river and park paths) for over 90% of my commute. I could chose to go by road instead which is actually a mile less (4.5 miles vs. 3.5 miles) but the shared path route is actually quicker (and so much more scenic and relaxing) than the road way. Is the shared path route perfect? No! There are many little things that could be improved but even without these improvements I am still very thankful that the route exists and I can commute on it. I am so thankful infact that I now support SUSTRANS by subscribing as a member.

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davel replied to ClubSmed | 6 years ago
1 like

ClubSmed wrote:

Is the issue that most people here have actually with the way SUSTRANS are run or is it about how little they are able to achieve with their limited budget?

Personally I travel on shared paths (canal, river and park paths) for over 90% of my commute. I could chose to go by road instead which is actually a mile less (4.5 miles vs. 3.5 miles) but the shared path route is actually quicker (and so much more scenic and relaxing) than the road way. Is the shared path route perfect? No! There are many little things that could be improved but even without these improvements I am still very thankful that the route exists and I can commute on it. I am so thankful infact that I now support SUSTRANS by subscribing as a member.

I suppose my issue is with expectations. Sustrans being involved seems to give projects an air of credibility and standards, and that nothing more needs to be done. In reality, what is delivered often leaves a lot to be desired.

If they were called 'half-arsed halfway house shared-use nonsense' I'd probably subscribe too, on the basis that it might be better than what the council wants to do (ie. 'nothing', or 'really shit bikepaths'). But I'd still need to campaign for proper bike infrastructure.

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srchar replied to ClubSmed | 6 years ago
0 likes

ClubSmed wrote:

Is the issue that most people here have actually with the way SUSTRANS are run or is it about how little they are able to achieve with their limited budget?
Personally I travel on shared paths (canal, river and park paths) for over 90% of my commute. I could chose to go by road instead which is actually a mile less (4.5 miles vs. 3.5 miles) but the shared path route is actually quicker (and so much more scenic and relaxing) than the road way.

I think this is the point - the infrastructure is fine for a 15 minute bimble to work, but for making good progress over any significant distance, it's hopeless.

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kitsunegari | 6 years ago
0 likes

They could have replaced that entire survey with a single question:

Should Sustrans be shut down?

1) Yes

2) Yes

3) Yes

4) NoYes

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Bill H | 6 years ago
0 likes

Sustrans is run by an unelected clique (much like Cycling UK!) which delivers the end product requested by the group paying for the named project.

Where a local authority gets it, they deliver good infrastructure. Elsewhere they deliver crap, but crucially they get paid.

S/he who pays the piper calls the tune. 

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fenix | 6 years ago
3 likes

I ride to work on an unsegregated path. Ok its a pavement with Bike pics on. Never had a problem. I don't ride it flat out. It's not meant for that. If you behave sensibly and treat people respectfully - then 99% of people are nice back.

Act like a kn0b and you'll get that back too.

Sustrans have made some great Bike paths round here. Far better than using the busy main roads.

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horizontal dropout | 6 years ago
1 like

"But I mean why bother segregating it? If pedestrians can just wander all over then it's no different from unsegregated shared space. Which is often a bit rubbish."

Sorry misunderstood. I guess it gives pedestrians a space they don't have to share with bikes. For cyclists it's not much different than a shared space except pedestrians tend to stick more to the non-cycling side, so at least there are fewer of them.

Yes shared space is not the best but I would rather have ten miles of shared space I can cycle on than 1 mile of really nice bike path and nine miles of nothing at all. Funding. Which is back to Govt priorities.

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horizontal dropout | 6 years ago
3 likes

When I watch people on the Sustrans routes near me most don't seem to have issues with each other, even when it's busy. In fact it bothers me a bit as a cyclist that walkers will step to one side and wait for me to pass as that is not the intended priority.

I think the apparent issues that people are discussing here are because many people here are right at the fringe or even outside of the intended use that Sustrans has in mind.

Perhaps anger would be better directed at govt and local authorities which don't provide good safe cycle only routes which allow for faster cyclists as well as slower ones and don't act to reduce traffic volumes and speeds and driver culture.

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to horizontal dropout | 6 years ago
3 likes
horizontal dropout wrote:

I think the apparent issues that people are discussing here are because many people here are right at the fringe or even outside of the intended use that Sustrans has in mind.

Is that intended use not 'sustainable transport' then? Because I don't find shared use paths to be much use for that. If that's not the intended use, should they not change their name? Maybe the main reason they get flak is because their name no longer bears much relationship to what they do?

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davel replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 6 years ago
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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Maybe the main reason they get flak is because their name no longer bears much relationship to what they do?

This puzzles me, too.

There's a stretch of the transpennine trail (NCN 62) near me, which for a couple of miles is practically unusable by bike because it's just mud. I can traverse it on my MTB or CXer but you get covered in mud (even with decent mudguards). I'd like to use it as part of my commute but it needs drought conditions for it to dry out sufficiently, otherwise I get into the office (and home) looking like I've been in a Somme reenactment. Isn't much fun if you're walking, either, but at least you can pick your steps.

According to Sustrans, maintenance is the responsibility of the LA. The council have, of course, made cutbacks, and their one park ranger for the area encouraged me to moan at them for more maintenance/better clearing/drainage/resurfacing, which I am doing but am getting fobbed off because it isn't a priority: entirely predictable.

The thing that gets me is that whichever body(ies) signed off on the path - it was obvious that it was going to turn into a mudbath. Crappy, light gravel on mud alongside fields/woodland, with overhanging trees: the one thing it isn't is 'sustainable', and the less it is used, the less it will be maintained, and the more it will be reclaimed by nature. And yet the council continues to claim it as cycling/shared use provision and sees that box as ticked for the neighbourhood - it would probably be an easier battle if I'd started from a base of zero cycling provision.

I was expecting that response from the council and I've got some appetite for continuing to moan for a while, but Sustrans needs to be a bit more discerning when it comes to design and handover to useless/strapped councils.

Meanwhile, I do an additional couple of miles by road to avoid dropping mudlumps all over the office and home.

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kitsunegari replied to davel | 6 years ago
2 likes

davel wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Maybe the main reason they get flak is because their name no longer bears much relationship to what they do?

This puzzles me, too. There's a stretch of the transpennine trail (NCN 62) near me, which for a couple of miles is practically unusable by bike because it's just mud. I can traverse it on my MTB or CXer but you get covered in mud (even with decent mudguards).

I recently cycled from Edinburgh to Cambridge, and had plotted a reasonable length of the ride along the national route 1, which ended up being some of the worst cycling I've ever done the further north it got.

I spent some of the trail cycling with a random chap who had come over from Belgium to do a cycle tour of Britain, and he asked me a simple enough question as we were passive over a muddy field interspersed with cring-inducing flint stones everywhere: "Is this really a national cycle route?".

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brooksby replied to davel | 6 years ago
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davel wrote:

The thing that gets me is that whichever body(ies) signed off on the path - it was obvious that it was going to turn into a mudbath. Crappy, light gravel on mud alongside fields/woodland, with overhanging trees: the one thing it isn't is 'sustainable', and the less it is used, the less it will be maintained, and the more it will be reclaimed by nature. And yet the council continues to claim it as cycling/shared use provision and sees that box as ticked for the neighbourhood.

Ditto on the Pill Path alongside the river Avon from Bristol to Pill.  "They" (Bristol council, I think) resurfaced it a couple of years ago, with large stones which survived about a fortnight before beginning to sink into the mud, and filled in all the rutted potholes with gravel.  My bike's a hybrid with full mudguards, and I can ride along there only if it hasn't rained at all in the last couple of days, and if I fell up to navigating the loose gravel while on a path high above a river with no safety rails.

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exilegareth | 6 years ago
2 likes

Occasionally, I write surveys. This one is appalling. I am not stupid, according to those who know me, and I had two goes at reading the first question befre concludingit was really badly written.

 

The repeated use of the same scenarios looked like a really naff attempt by a really dull post-grad to check for survey conditioning, but actually all they'll achieve is lots of people abandoning, like I did.

 

I hate shared use paths. I do not want to share my cycling with people who use retractable dog leads, or idiots who shuffle jog in a world of their own while wearing headphones. I don't want to spend my time trying to guess where that toddler is going to go next, or why that family are standing four abreast on the bit of tarmac with a bike painted on it.

 

I have worked with Sustrans. On one occasion they simply refused to explain how they had done market research, and the standards of their work was simply appalling. My expectations of this survey were low and guess what? It was worse.

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FluffyKittenofT... | 6 years ago
1 like

I was going to post these two

https://waronthemotorist.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/bikeboom1.png

http://www.cpre.org.uk/images/stories/transport/cycle-traffic-in-great-b...

But your own link includes a similar graph under section 11, which shows a barely-perceptible upslope for that last decade. Hardly a roaring success story (and how much of that is due solely to London, where it's not 'shared use' paths that would be responsible?).

Shared use paths are mostly crap, I personally dislike them, including as a pedestrian. There are some I could use but instead I stick to the road, because they are a PITA, full of dog-walkers for one thing.

Other than, I accept, non-urban ones with very few pedestrians (e.g. alongside dual carriageways, where I do think they make sense).

Edit - also, an increase in cycle traffic has to be considered alongside the increase in all traffic. With both on the same graph like
https://aseasyasridingabike.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/untitled-8.png?w...
it looks even less impressive.

(Also, I think I'd just walk a 2km commute! Hardly worth the trouble of locking the bike up - point being, for such a short distance it probably wouldn't matter if you get reduced to walking-speed for parts of it)

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Rich_cb replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 6 years ago
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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

I was going to post these two

https://waronthemotorist.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/bikeboom1.png

http://www.cpre.org.uk/images/stories/transport/cycle-traffic-in-great-b...

But your own link includes a similar graph under section 11, which shows a barely-perceptible upslope for that last decade. Hardly a roaring success story (and how much of that is due solely to London, where it's not 'shared use' paths that would be responsible?).

Shared use paths are mostly crap, I personally dislike them, including as a pedestrian. There are some I could use but instead I stick to the road, because they are a PITA, full of dog-walkers for one thing.

Other than, I accept, non-urban ones with very few pedestrians (e.g. alongside dual carriageways, where I do think they make sense).

Edit - also, an increase in cycle traffic has to be considered alongside the increase in all traffic. With both on the same graph like
https://aseasyasridingabike.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/untitled-8.png?w...
it looks even less impressive.

(Also, I think I'd just walk a 2km commute! Hardly worth the trouble of locking the bike up - point being, for such a short distance it probably wouldn't matter if you get reduced to walking-speed for parts of it)

It all depends on the scale you choose.

If you compare the increase in the last decade with the rates 50 years ago it looks insignificant.

If you compare it with the decade directly before it then the increase is 23%. That's a huge change.

Unless you've got stats to show that this increase has not involved shared use paths you can't claim they are unsuccessful.

Cycling 2km is still significantly faster than walking it, there are plenty of bike racks at work and I have bought a cheap 2nd hand bike for the commute to try and reduce the risk of theft. I also enjoy cycling far more than walking!

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arfa | 6 years ago
3 likes

Why not just ask "what did the Dutch do" ?
Saves lots of time, aggravation and wasted funds.

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CarlosFerreiro replied to arfa | 6 years ago
1 like

arfa wrote:

Why not just ask "what did the Dutch do" ? Saves lots of time, aggravation and wasted funds.

Dutch CROW manual puts a maximum pedestrian number for shared use paths of "25 pedestrians per hour, per metre path width, on traffic-free paths away from town centres".  

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horizontal dropout | 6 years ago
3 likes

Oh dear, so many haters, sounds like the Daily Mail.

"they dont have a fking clue"

I'd say they have been pretty successful judging by the number of people out on bikes and walking who probably wouldn't otherwise. There are hundreds of people on one near me going to and from schools. That's a huge amount of school run avoided. There are plenty of commuters as well and it can get a bit crowded and slow in place but we don't seem to suffer from bike rage like some here do.

"who would ever ride 90% on shared paths"

Again judging from some around here I'd say quite a few. All the parents and children going to and from school in the week, and at the weekend loads of people out for a family ride.

"people with prams weaving between the ped and cycle halfs"

I haven't fully got to the bottom of it but it looks like many shared segregated paths are created from a footpath. Half the path is converted to allow cycle use but that conversion doesn't disallow pedestrian use, i.e. people can walk anywhere. There may be some newer ones which have been created to disallow walking on the cycle half.

"depending how much of a fuckwit"

Not much to say about people using Sustrans routes with this sort of attitude.

I'll have a go at it even if it is a bit tedious. If Sustrans can get the information they can hopefully steer their designs in future to iron out some of the conflicts. So, big up to those who did manage to complete it. It will be interesting to see what walkers feel about "fuckwits" on bikes.

Unrelated but there's a move to create a new type of Right of Way (eg footpaths, bridleways etc) which is a Cycle Way. Currently if a footpath is converted for cycle use it disappears from the Rights of Way map because it is no longer one of the defined types of rights of way.

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to horizontal dropout | 6 years ago
2 likes
horizontal dropout wrote:

Oh dear, so many haters, sounds like the Daily Mail.

"they dont have a fking clue"

I'd say they have been pretty successful judging by the number of people out on bikes and walking who probably wouldn't otherwise. There are hundreds of people on one near me going to and from schools. That's a huge amount of school run avoided. There are plenty of commuters as well and it can get a bit crowded and slow in place but we don't seem to suffer from bike rage like some here do.

"who would ever ride 90% on shared paths"

Again judging from some around here I'd say quite a few. All the parents and children going to and from school in the week, and at the weekend loads of people out for a family ride.

"people with prams weaving between the ped and cycle halfs"

I haven't fully got to the bottom of it but it looks like many shared segregated paths are created from a footpath. Half the path is converted to allow cycle use but that conversion doesn't disallow pedestrian use, i.e. people can walk anywhere. There may be some newer ones which have been created to disallow walking on the cycle half.

"depending how much of a fuckwit"

Not much to say about people using Sustrans routes with this sort of attitude.

I'll have a go at it even if it is a bit tedious. If Sustrans can get the information they can hopefully steer their designs in future to iron out some of the conflicts. So, big up to those who did manage to complete it. It will be interesting to see what walkers feel about "fuckwits" on bikes.

Unrelated but there's a move to create a new type of Right of Way (eg footpaths, bridleways etc) which is a Cycle Way. Currently if a footpath is converted for cycle use it disappears from the Rights of Way map because it is no longer one of the defined types of rights of way.

The actual statistics don't support your anecdotal claims, whether about 'number of people out on bikes and walking' or about the school run.

Shared use paths are hopeless and a cop-out to avoid taking anything at all from motorists...most utility cyclists know this.

I really don't think Sustrans deserve the level of abuse they get (aren't a lot of them volunteers? And I bet the rest aren't particularly well-paid). But whatever it is they are for, I don't see that they are of much relevance to the issue of sustainable transport.

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Rich_cb replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 6 years ago
1 like
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

The actual statistics don't support your anecdotal claims, whether about 'number of people out on bikes and walking' or about the school run.

Shared use paths are hopeless and a cop-out to avoid taking anything at all from motorists...most utility cyclists know this.

I really don't think Sustrans deserve the level of abuse they get (aren't a lot of them volunteers? And I bet the rest aren't particularly well-paid). But whatever it is they are for, I don't see that they are of much relevance to the issue of sustainable transport.

I thought the statistics showed an increase in cycling in the last decade or so?
(http://www.cyclinguk.org/resources/cycling-uk-cycling-statistics)

What data are you referring to?

I've just moved jobs and my commute had changed from 25km on roads to 2km on shared use path.

I see far more cyclists on the 2km of shared use path than I did on the 25km of road.

Anecdotal obviously but where I live shared use paths seem incredibly popular.

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