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“Cycling infrastructure by people who've never used a bicycle”: Cyclist slams “utter shambles and non-inclusive” kissing gates obstructing a shared-use path

“I was astonished by the contraption I saw in front of me... This is an unnecessary obstruction and needs to be removed”

You'd believe a shared-use path to have adequate provisions for, or at least, no obstructions blocking the users who are going to share it. However, a Worcester cyclist was left "astonished" at the sight of the kissing gates on a shared-use path for pedestrians and cyclists, obstructions he described as "utter shambles and not at all inclusive", that forced a family of four cyclists to turn around.

Brian was out for a leisure ride yesterday in Worcester when he was faced with the Gandalf-like gates, loudly announcing "You shall not pass" despite a blue signpost, bare few feet away, indicating that it was instead a route where cyclists were welcome.

"I decided to take a route that was showing up on my GPS as passable," Brian told road.cc. "When I got to the gate I was astonished by the contraption I saw in front of me. The path is signposted as being for pedestrians and cyclists so a shared use path."

> “Oh! Bollards!” Delivery cyclist says council’s new cycle route barriers are too narrow for cargo bike trailers… also supplied by the council

He initially thought that he wouldn't be able to get through the gates at all, so out of desperation and frustration, he decided to take a picture and post it on Twitter (as many of us would have done). Right then, a family of four — mother and father and two children — approached from the other side, all riding their bikes.

"I was annoyed at the obstruction and approached it, only to realise that the gate would open to allow something through," he said (a rather poor imitation of Gandalf, then).

He added: "Unfortunately the family could not get through though they did try hard. I did manage to manoeuvre my bike by tilting it in a weird fashion. The family however were forced to go back and head elsewhere."

Trotshill, Worcester (Google Maps)

Shared-use sign next to the kissing gates in Trotshill, Worcester (Google Maps)

Brian said that the kissing gate had some sort of padlock which you could unlock with a key to allow bigger cycles through, however, that would still make it incredibly difficult, or in most cases downright impossible for users with wheelchairs, mobility scooters, trishaws, cargo bikes, tandems, and so on.

"It's an utter shambles and not at all inclusive. In my opinion this is an unnecessary obstruction and needs to be removed," he said.

> Campaigners welcome council’s U-turn on installing “discriminatory” barriers on cycling and walking routes

A few hundred feet away on the path, on the east side of the Trotshill Way leading up to Trotshill Lane East, which also forms a part of a bridleway, he was greeted with another contraption. This time, it was another old nemesis of many cyclists and accessibility users: the staggered barriers.

Other cyclists were also not very pleased about the whole state of affairs in Worcester.

> "A bad solution that creates conflict": Delivery cyclist unconvinced council moving controversial bollards will work

"Trotshill. Been a real issue for years. It has had countless complaints yet the council say it is to stop motorcycles. What is hilarious is the horse drop pad on the other side of the road. Horses aren't getting through there," wrote one user on Twitter.

A cyclist said: "A motocross bike/scrambler can just whizz further on and gain access elsewhere. This simply makes things awkward for non-motorists’ daily lives," while another person observed: "Cycling infrastructure brought to you by people who have never used (or even seen?) a bicycle."

Worcestershire Country Council has been contacted for comment.

> Disabled cyclist accuses Stockport Council of trying to “worm its way out” of making sure that all cycling and walking routes are accessible

Cyclists facing issues with accessibility due to weird placement of blockades and bollards isn't anything new. In March, we reported that Steve Abraham, a cyclist from Milton-Keynes known for his long-distance record attempts who also works as a delivery rider criticised the local council’s decision to install barriers and bollards on the city’s cycleways and shared-use routes, which he said prevented the paths being used by delivery riders with large bike trailers — that were themselves supplied by the council.

Bollards in Milton Keynes after council changed it  (Steve Abraham)

Bollards in Milton Keynes redway after the council rearranged it (Steve Abraham)

The council defended its decision, saying the bollards were put in place for "safety" reasons and to prevent vehicles from accessing the area and driving along the redway.

However, the ultra-cycling legend Abraham remained unconvinced with the council's decision to rearrange the bollards from a straight line to a triangular shape. 

He said the new bollards had made it trickier for delivery riders to find efficient, accessible routes using the city's redways, a traffic-free shared use network covering most of the city estates and stretching out to the area's older towns and labelled the triangular rearrangement as a "bad solution that creates conflict with other users".

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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92 comments

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Cugel | 9 months ago
2 likes

It would be a fine thing if there could be, magically (the only method that would work) a set of wide cycle paths also available to wheelchairs and other such aids, with well-separated ped paths on which children & dogs could roam free without bothering anyone else. How likely that a magician will come along and wave the wand over Blighty to bring these about? 

I'd say nil-chance. And anyway, I like to cycle on the roads, which go everywhere and, when free of car loon, are a joy. Happily I have such roads in West Wales. They were available most of the time in the less populated areas of NW England, although there was always leakage of car loon in wankpanzer from nearby conurbations full of middle-class ghettoes and their massed ranks of car jousting eejits.

Just this morning I was reading an interesting article in that German Tour cycling magazine.  It concerns Hamburg and its laws forcing cyclists off the roads on to highly inadequate cycle paths, mostly build 50 or more years ago and largely in an unusable condition.

https://www.tour-magazin.de/ratgeber/rechtstipps/interview-adfc-beklagt-...

Apparently there are similar laws elsewhere in Germany, banning cyclists from roads where there is an alternative cycle path. In theory the laws only apply if the cycle path meets certain qualities but in practice the law is used as an excuse to rid the roads of bicycles no matter how poor the cycle paths.

Now, this is the thing that most concerns me about the various howls for "cycling infrastructure". How long before cyclists are banned from roads in various parts of Blighty because, "There's a cycle path"? Many car loons already yell this at us out of their loon wagon window. 

This is the prime reason I'm personally agin' the cycle path except in unusual circumstances. The next reason is that if they're made shared paths, this seems to bring out the car loon in many cyclists. The peds justifiably complain about being bike-looned rather too often. Sadly, one may also be looned at by a disaffected person in a motorised buggy for the disabled. Being a cyclist or disabled does not make saints out of sinners!

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chrisonabike replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
0 likes

Well I do enjoy your rambles.  Presumably the "well I'm alright Jack!  Fit and healthy and cycling in a local paradise" tone is satire, to complement the "This old world's been going for billions of years, why do we need you querulous types to "fix" it now?"  (I am a little sympathetic to the late Duke of Edinburgh's idea of what he could do for the "natural world").

Anyway, I see you've left a couple of bear traps / "talking points" out and it would be impolite of me not to blunder into one:

"We'll be stuck on terrible cycle paths"

Of course it's always within the power of the powers to find some way to make life worse for me personally.  It's possible they decide to lay into cyclists in general.  That's a separate and independent (potential) issue from getting a network of decent quality cycling infra though.

For most people it is already true of course - most would not be at all happy if you put them on a cycle on a UK road with motor traffic.  Plus some people who could physically cycle would find our current set-up practically impossible.  That's a part of why almost nobody cycles.  As David Hembrow points out in his collection of myths about cycle infra / excuses for not building (quality) infra:

David Hembrow wrote:

If cycle paths are built "we'll be banished to dangerous crap forever". Isn't that the problem now ? That the roads which "cyclists" ride on are "dangerous crap" so far as everyone but very enthusiastic cyclists are concerned ? Cycling has reached its lowest possible ebb in the English speaking world. Whatever direction campaigning takes, to end up with a worse situation than a mere 1% of journeys being by bike, as at present, is rather unlikely. There is, almost literally, nothing to lose.

We could pre-emptively worry that asking for crumbs of infra will mean that the government in exchange confiscates everyone's front wheels.  Or that if they do make anything it's just a plot to get us off the roads... or we could just direct our efforts to ensuring that cycle infra is built, in sufficient quantity and of sufficient quality.

In NL (where it is sometimes not legal to cycle on the road - although most roads are actually shared) why would you not want to cycle on the cycle path?  It's pleasant, it's convenient, it's fast.  After all, on the roads you'll just get held up a traffic lights (often not the case when cycling)...

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Cugel replied to chrisonabike | 9 months ago
3 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:
David Hembrow wrote:

If cycle paths are built "we'll be banished to dangerous crap forever". Isn't that the problem now ? That the roads which "cyclists" ride on are "dangerous crap" so far as everyone but very enthusiastic cyclists are concerned ? Cycling has reached its lowest possible ebb in the English speaking world. Whatever direction campaigning takes, to end up with a worse situation than a mere 1% of journeys being by bike, as at present, is rather unlikely. There is, almost literally, nothing to lose.

We could pre-emptively worry that asking for crumbs of infra will mean that the government in exchange confiscates everyone's front wheels.  Or that if they do make anything it's just a plot to get us off the roads... or we could just direct our efforts to ensuring that cycle infra is built, in sufficient quantity and of sufficient quality.

In NL (where it is sometimes not legal to cycle on the road - although most roads are actually shared) why would you not want to cycle on the cycle path?  It's pleasant, it's convenient, it's fast.  After all, on the roads you'll just get held up a traffic lights (often not the case when cycling)...

There's roads and there's roads. In 60 years of cycling hundreds of thousands of miles almost all on roads, I've only been knocked off once by a car, 43 years ago. There have been close passes and the like but in reality, most of us get used to them and deal with them even though we hate them.

There are certainly places in large towns and cities, and in their wider environs, where car loons are legion and cyclists (as well as peds, drivists/passengers and the car loons themselves) are in much more danger of death or maiming. But it isn't like that everywhere. 

********

Making nice Dutch-style cycle tracks everywhere in Blighterland isn't going to happen, partly because it physically can't, partly because the public purse is buggered and partly because there's insufficient demand. A better strategy is to deal with as many car loons as possible with prevention of their access to a car, since this saves a lot of damage besides that to (a relatively few) cyclists. [You did note that word relatively hopefully]. And it costs far, far less.

An even better solution would be drastically change the design of cars to prevent them being used so easily as a 4-wheeled blunt instrument. Lower the weight, reduce the maximum speed, include more automated limiters on inattentive and stupid driving.

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chrisonabike replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
2 likes
Cugel wrote:

There's roads and there's roads. In 60 years of cycling hundreds of thousands of miles almost all on roads, I've only been knocked off once by a car, 43 years ago. There have been close passes and the like but in reality, most of us get used to them and deal with them even though we hate them.

All true, and (in a little bit less time cycling) they haven't got me yet either!

Cugel wrote:

Making nice Dutch-style cycle tracks everywhere in Blighterland isn't going to happen, partly because it physically can't, partly because the public purse is buggered and partly because there's insufficient demand. A better strategy is to deal with as many car loons as possible with prevention of their access to a car, since this saves a lot of damage besides that to (a relatively few) cyclists. [You did note that word relatively hopefully]. And it costs far, far less.

The current lot certainly are shouting they won't make it happen, and I doubt the next lot are terrible keen for it either.

I'd dispute the "physically can't" bit.  I'm not sure what's true about the geometry or dimensions of space we have these parts that ain't equally true just over 100 miles East of Harwich? (Or maybe it's the dimensions of cycles - ah, but that is in the wrong direction - Dutch ones are likely larger as they lead the rankings of average height by country).

We have narrow streets, we have historic towns?

If you mean "but we'd have to have at least as many miles of cycle track as we have roads" I'd ask "why?"  The Dutch have waaaay more miles of road than cycle path but the national modal share nationally by trip is IIRC above 25% (it varies considerably by place).  They just utilise the fact that - as you say - many roads aren't busy (they just wouldn't do it on "fast country roads" I suspect)

The "but it costs money" and "but no-one cycles!" are perfectly sensible queries, which have even better rejoinders.  I'd agree that the first looms large right now.  But as Rendel said over on "gate-gate" when did we ever have any spare money?  The second is self-fulfilling.

I'm all up for practical ideas for shrinking and slowing vehicles a bit though, or persuading fewer folks to drive them less.  That is a good idea.  (I just think that sneakily switching their car for a cycle sometimes is one of the more practical ways to bring it about).

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Robert Hardy | 9 months ago
0 likes

The yellow barrier had presumably been rearranged to allow wide side by side child trailers through, that the previous in line barrier had been too narrow for. What a whiner this guy is, has he never lifted his front wheel to manoeuvre a bike through a kissing gate before? Not over burdensome, even if you have to get the paniers or bob trailer off first as I have often needed.Too many cyclists have a motorist mentality and think the world should be arranged solely for their convenience.

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hawkinspeter replied to Robert Hardy | 9 months ago
6 likes
Robert Hardy wrote:

The yellow barrier had presumably been rearranged to allow wide side by side child trailers through, that the previous in line barrier had been too narrow for. What a whiner this guy is, has he never lifted his front wheel to manoeuvre a bike through a kissing gate before? Not over burdensome, even if you have to get the paniers or bob trailer off first as I have often needed.Too many cyclists have a motorist mentality and think the world should be arranged solely for their convenience.

I think you're missing the point. Those of us with typical bikes and typical strength and mobility don't have much of an issue with those kissing gates and yes, lift the front wheel (don't forget if you have a long rear mudguard though as that'll likely get trashed).

The issue is with cyclists that have mobility issues (e.g. frozen shoulder) and/or less typical bike designs such as recumbents, trikes, tandems etc. (Unicycles are fun to maneouvre through those gates as you don't even need to dismount)

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joe9090 replied to Robert Hardy | 9 months ago
0 likes

Why are you even here?

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Rendel Harris replied to Robert Hardy | 9 months ago
2 likes
Robert Hardy wrote:

Too many cyclists have a motorist mentality and think the world should be arranged solely for their convenience.

There's rather a large difference between thinking that the world should be arranged solely for your convenience and thinking that when with a little planning and decent design a piece of infrastructure could achieve its target without causing significant inconvenience to cyclists it should be done. It's not okay, especially for elderly and disabled cyclists, to say all you've got to do is lift your bike over this, or all you've got to do is take your luggage off. Why should that be acceptable when there are perfectly good alternatives that would allow all cyclists, not just the young, strong and healthy, to get their bikes through easily?

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HoldingOn replied to Rendel Harris | 9 months ago
3 likes

I read somewhere that the ULEZ cameras don't register your non-compliant car, if you simply get out and push it.

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chrisonabike replied to Robert Hardy | 9 months ago
1 like
Robert Hardy wrote:

Too many cyclists have a motorist mentality and think the world should be arranged solely for their convenience.

Hmm... yes.  It's entitlement, right enough.

Thing is though... if we are starting to see that maybe we should have a bit less driving, and that having a bit more cycling can help with that (and has other benefits) perhaps we need not just to knock the motorists down a peg (as if!) but ... actually make cycling at least as convenient as motoring.  I mean, we're odd round here but the majority of people in the UK just chose the mode where the world is solely arranged for their convenience (driving) every time.  Are they fools?

When it comes to those with disabilities could we maybe arrange the world a little more around their convenience (I wouldn't say we're exactly overdoing it now) - and actually get knock-on benefits for everyone)?

Imagine what the effects might be if we had a network of infra arranged so that cycling not motoring was the quickest, easiest way from A to B?  Where sometimes the cars were sent round the houses (or up the ramp) instead of everyone else ("unbundling" routes, car-only diversion, mode-separation at junctions, sending cars underground)?  Special cycle-only routes directly between places, including long distance ones?  Dedicated safe, high-quality cycle parking at the station and in the centre of town, and the cycle parking was right outside the shops not round the corner with the smokers?  Special cycle-based attractions to visit (to lakes, through lakes, through a forest, a museum).

OK - I've arranged my post for your convenience back there to save you the effort of imagining!

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neilmck replied to Robert Hardy | 9 months ago
3 likes

I disagree. When the path is for cyclists then it should be constructed for cyclists. Second best is not acceptable just because of an incompetent designer. There are plenty of good cheap solutions for shared paths.

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Flintshire Boy | 9 months ago
1 like

.

First piccie - dreadful. Second and third - fine; no complaints.

.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Flintshire Boy | 9 months ago
1 like

Dreadful in what way? Especially compared to the second which is the same gate from further away to show the path is meant for shared usage.

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hutchdaddy replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 9 months ago
0 likes

Your second is a video.

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Flintshire Boy replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 9 months ago
0 likes

.

You snooze.

.

You lose.

.

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Robert Hardy replied to Flintshire Boy | 9 months ago
1 like

Those modern wide galvanised kissing gates are designed to allow a typical wheelchair through, I've got my father's through them, bit tricky as the pusher, but there is generally space to swing the gate once the chair and occupant are in the enclosure.

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Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
1 like

Who on earth is this Brian, and has he never been outside before?!

Anyone who's done even a tiny bit of walking or riding in the countryside will know what a kissing gate is and how they work. His comments are completely laughable

Particularly amusing comments were:

"I was annoyed at the obstruction and approached it, only to realise that the gate would open to allow something through"  (like all gates do, you lift the latch and open the gate) 

"Brian said that the kissing gate had some sort of padlock which you could unlock with a key to allow bigger cycles through" - no it wont, that's the point of a padlock. Plus kissing gates don't work like that - they swing from side to side, forcing you to go around the gate itself - you'd have to unhinge it. 

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quiff replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
3 likes
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

"Brian said that the kissing gate had some sort of padlock which you could unlock with a key to allow bigger cycles through" - no it wont, that's the point of a padlock. Plus kissing gates don't work like that - they swing from side to side, forcing you to go around the gate itself - you'd have to unhinge it. 

Pretty sure a padlock is indeed designed to be opened with a key. It looks to me from the picture like the gate might be designed to be narrow enough to swing fully clear of the circular part of the frame if required, but it is kept captive by a sliding bolt secured by a padlock.  

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to quiff | 9 months ago
1 like

Yes correct, my words were not worded correctly there. I meant more that if there is a padlock, they are not expecting any tom, dick or harry to open it just to allow a larger thing through. 

I'd be surprised if the gate did swing clear, they are mainly used to keep livestock in, so they are designed to only swing in the gate opening. 

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quiff replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
7 likes
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chrisonabike replied to quiff | 9 months ago
1 like

Top post (is that slamming post maybe?)!  Informative (I did not know about these), your words were worded correctly AND not at all unhinged! laugh

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to quiff | 9 months ago
4 likes

Very noticable that it only states access for 
Access for pedestrians
Access for pedestrians w/ dogs
Access for medium mobility vehicles
Access for large mobility vehicles
Access for mobility vehicles w/radar key

No mention of cycles* so for a Shared Use Path, it cuts down upto 50% of the shared use. 

*The mobility vehicles are accompanied by a sign showing wheelchair users so no, not classing bikes under that. 

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quiff replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 9 months ago
5 likes

Totally agree, it's still not cycle friendly unless you have requisite key to open it fully.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to quiff | 9 months ago
0 likes

And as the key is a Radar one, most cyclists probably wouldn't have one unless they lied about a condition to get one. 

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Tom_77 replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 9 months ago
1 like
AlsoSomniloquism wrote:

And as the key is a Radar one, most cyclists probably wouldn't have one unless they lied about a condition to get one. 

Radar keys can be bought on Amazon, or your local mobility shop. No questions asked unless you want to avoid paying the VAT on it.

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mattw replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 9 months ago
0 likes

RADAR locks make a gate innaccessible for some.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to quiff | 9 months ago
1 like
quiff wrote:

Prepare to be surprised then: https://centrewire.com/products/woodstock-large-kissing-gate/

Thank you I am surprised. Fair point. 

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brooksby replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
5 likes
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Yes correct, my words were not worded correctly there. I meant more that if there is a padlock, they are not expecting any tom, dick or harry to open it just to allow a larger thing through. 

I don't think you're helping the argument.  If "they are not expecting any tom, dick or harry to open it just to allow a larger thing through" then they shouldn't be using it on a cycle route (bicycles being an example of 'larger things')...

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mattw replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
2 likes

Are you sure it's only Brian who has never been outside? 

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