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Sustrans: Racers not welcome on shared use paths

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.

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