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Council says 'Danny MacAskill' staircase cycle path is an "interim measure" as it looks to secure funding to extend scheme

“We had a decision to make — do the scheme, put in the stairs and the ramp as an interim measure — or risk losing the funding and not do the scheme at all” says Plymouth City Council

While our readers were left wondering yesterday if the cycling staircase was a stairway to A&E, or commissioned by Danny MacAskill himself, Plymouth City Council has confirmed to road.cc that it is an interim measure, put in place for the time-being as they work towards securing funding for a long-term solution in place.

And breathe! For a moment I thought us roadies might have to rack up our mountain bike skills if Komoot ended up suggesting this route…

The installation of the new cycle path in Plymouth yesterday, forming part of the Saltram Meadow roundabout to Colesdown Hill cycle path and linking to a route that runs back past Laira Bridge, didn’t go down too well with local riders.

The new 800m stretch follows the route of the old railway line but with a flight of stairs and a wheeling channel up onto Colesdown Hill.

“That’s even worse than I imagined,” wrote Alan on the Plymouth Cycling Campaign Forum Facebook group, while Pete pondered whether “the councillors would like to demonstrate how wonderful their new piece of cycling infrastructure is on the opening day”.

William also noted that Plymouth City Council had initially “boasted about how the route would benefit wheelchair users and mobility scooter users”, while others pointed out that the local authority had missed a few tricks even when implementing the stairs.

However, the council tried explaining its reasonings behind this piece of infrastructure, telling road.cc that it decided to proceed with the scheme, as turning down money would have meant that it was less likely to be offered it again.

“Yes, we know that stairs aren’t ideal but they are an interim solution before a long-term plan to further extend this route is realised,” said the council. “Not going ahead with this section would have led to more delay in delivering the longer term plan to provide the route underneath Colesdown Hill.”

People were left wondering why couldn’t the council put a ramp next to it, to which it replied: “We looked at this but given the gradients involved, it would have been too steep. A longer, graded ramp was also considered but it would have stretched to 100m and significantly more costly.”

The council also said: “Over the past few years, we’ve been working on a plan to extend this path along the route of the former railway alignment by unblocking an old tunnel that runs underneath Colesdown Hill and eventually linking the back onto Billacombe Road.

“So far, each phase of the project has been funded externally, most recently from Growth Deal Funding awarded by the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Transport Board and developer contributions.

“When we bid for the money for this latest stretch, there wasn't the funding or enough time to incorporate the tunnel in this phase. So we had a decision to make — do the scheme, put in the stairs and the ramp as an interim measure – or risk losing the funding and not do the scheme at all.”

In the meantime as long as it's there, we'll see if we can get Mr MacAskill himself to show us how to go down the route...

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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11 comments

Avatar
Mr.C | 11 months ago
3 likes

This is on NCN11 in the section known as The Lodes Way, since this 2006 photo a wheel ramp has been added -- too close to handrail of course.

Avatar
SpeedyMark replied to Mr.C | 11 months ago
2 likes

I know this well as I used to have to carry my childrens' bikes up and down both sides.  It's far steeper than it looks and miles from the nearest A&E which is what it is risks producing.  A shame as the paths either side to Wicken Fen and Lode are pretty good.  Almost as bad as the 'cycle bridge' at Cambridge North station...

Avatar
Mr.C replied to SpeedyMark | 11 months ago
3 likes
SpeedyMark wrote:

I know this well as I used to have to carry my childrens' bikes up and down both sides.  It's far steeper than it looks and miles from the nearest A&E which is what it is risks producing. 

 

It's worse than steep.  The base of the steps has sunk into the bank, which is basically peat, but the top has not moved.  So the treads slope down a few degrees which is unexpected and un-nerving when descending.  Planning permission was obtained for a replacement with long ramps at a resonable slope (one is half-built on the Cambridge side) but the project was gold-plated in the NT's usual style and the estimated £1.3M cost (2012 price) never materialised.  Now the PP has probably expired.

This bridge was constructed in the 1950s, and a local farmer told me his dad would take the farm's cows over it.

Avatar
mattw | 11 months ago
2 likes

I think this Council could get a Letter Before Action within weeks.

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Mr.C | 11 months ago
8 likes

My experience of working with County Council, Sustrans and National Trust (as the landowner) is that after all the initial money has been spent establishing something, no matter its flaws "to be fixed later", then it never gets improved.  Or even maintained

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chrisonabike replied to Mr.C | 11 months ago
2 likes

Some of us would love to hear the story...

However - this seems very common with any development.  Fundamentally "build" and "maintenance" are different things, different budgets, often different groups of people.  And while it's not easy to get a chunk of money it seems much easier than getting regular smaller amounts over the long term.

Unless you're a car hire-purchase operation, or a gym.

Avatar
HoldingOn | 11 months ago
8 likes

It is fascinating how often these short term solutions become permanent

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hawkinspeter replied to HoldingOn | 11 months ago
4 likes
HoldingOn wrote:

It is fascinating how often these short term solutions become permanent

There's no such thing as a temporary solution

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chrisonabike | 11 months ago
5 likes

Recumbent says no.

Someone local will have to comment on whether this is just "grab cash, tick box" or a genuine hustle by the local authority to "get there any means we can".

The key part of the story for me is that the council feel the need to cobble together what should be a "strategic" project using bits of cash from here and there.

It's probably "both" but is it because of the low priority assigned to cycling and walking projects or our nation's "throw you crumbs of money at random" funding schemes for these things?

It's a local and national issue... I could be very wrong but I'm pretty sure we don't build / maintain our roads by a mix of sponsorship from the local takeaway, jumble sales from local people and diverting cash from occasional "keep local towns beautiful" funds...

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I love my bike replied to chrisonabike | 11 months ago
1 like

Isn't this closer to the truth: From the state of them . . . I'm pretty sure we don't build / maintain our roads by a mix of sponsorship from the local takeaway, jumble sales from local people and diverting cash from occasional "keep local towns beautiful" funds...

Unfortunately, once again this seems much more Murica than mainland Europe  2

Avatar
Doctor Fegg | 12 months ago
4 likes

"us roadies might have to rack up our mountain bike skills if Komoot ended up suggesting this route"

To be fair this is exactly the sort of route that Komoot frequently suggests...

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