Campaign Denounces Reckless Cycling on Greenway and Pavements

Shared Use Sign
Share with Care!

In recent months there has been an increase in concern about conflict between cyclists and other users of the Chester Millennium Greenway shared-use path and local pavements. Two incidents in particular have resulted in pedestrians being knocked down by speeding cyclists.

The Chester Cycling Campaign denounces reckless cycling in all its forms.  This includes the recent trend of using the Greenway for time trials.  Cycle racing and time trialling have no place on a busy shared path used by pedestrians, dog walkers, and wheelchair users.

Chester Greenway

The Greenway is frequently used by leisure and family cyclists, with many children learning to cycle on the traffic-free path.  Furthermore, pedestrians with hearing difficulties may not appreciate that a cyclist is approaching from the rear, and may be shocked when a cyclist passes at speed a few inches from their shoulder.

The Greenway is not suitable for cycling at speed or in large groups which take up much of the width of the path, particularly in the heavily used urban sections.   The dangers are obvious and could have serious consequences for all parties involved in a collision.

It must be acknowledged that walkers can also be at fault, for example, by wearing headphones, by not paying attention to their considerate use of the path, or by allowing dogs to run freely or at the end of long leads.  Such behaviour on the part of walkers also can contribute to incidents on the Greenway.  However, as bicycles have the greater potential to create injury, whether initiated by their riders’ actions or not, then cyclists must take the lead with regard to sharing the path responsibly.

Understanding and consideration is required on all sides, as the risks and dangers are two way.  Consequently, the Chester Cycling Campaign supports the following code of conduct  developed by Sustrans, and urges all local cyclists to comply with these suggestions in the interest of friendly and safe shared use of the valuable resource represented by the Greenway.


Code of Conduct for Cycling on Shared Use Paths

Shared-use paths help many people make their everyday journeys safely without the need for a car, and they are also important for leisure. Many young, elderly and disabled people benefit from shared paths, which provide valuable opportunities both to travel in a traffic-free environment, and to relax, unwind play or let their minds wander.

All users of shared use paths have responsibilities for the safety of others they are sharing space with. It is important not to startle other people, particularly those who are frail or who have reduced sight, hearing or mobility. The tranquillity of these paths is something people value greatly, and all path users need to respect this.

Cyclists tend to be the fastest movers on these paths and therefore the Chester Cycling Campaign asks cyclists to respect a code of conduct when using shared paths, to make sure everyone can benefit from them:

  • give way to pedestrians and wheelchair users and 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
  • slow down as needed 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 – 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
  • groups of cyclists should ride in single file when approaching pedestrians

The Chester Cycling Campaign supports safe and responsible use of shared use paths. They are for sharing, not for speeding. If you wish to travel quickly, train for fitness, or to record personal best times, this is better done on quiet roads.

Cycling on Pavements

Cycling on pavements is illegal under Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 as amended by Section 85 (1) of the Local Government Act 1888.  There is no exemption to this law for children.  However, the police have always used common sense and discretion in exercising their powers over children cycling on the pavement. Very young children should not be expected to cycle on the road and we would not recommend any child does so until they have received cycle training.  In any case, children under the age of 10 are below the age of criminal responsibility, hence they cannot be prosecuted for cycling on the pavement.

The Chester Cycling Campaign does not condone cycling on pavements unless they have been designated as shared use pavements.  Most of those who cycle on pavements are aware of the law and the potential consequences of their actions.  Often such cycling on pavements is a response to badly designed streets and hostile road conditions. Where roads are quiet and safe, or where high-quality cycling facilities have been provided, pavement cycling ceases.  This is why the Chester Cycling Campaign is constantly pressing for better infrastructure and improved conditions for cycling locally.

We are aware of the recent increase in cycling on the pavements of Grosvenor Bridge during the closure of the pedestrian/cyclist footbridge behind the Roodee.  Any cyclist considering doing this is advised to dismount if pedestrians are present on the footway.

Like many aspects of life, this all comes down to common sense and respect for others.  Cestrians are encouraged to follow the example of continental Europe where shared road space and pavements is often the norm.   If cyclists are considerate by sounding a warning, slowing down, and giving way when approaching pedestrians, then conflict can easily be avoided.

31 Comments

  1. I have a problem with shared routes in general. On a road, it is clear it is for wheeled traffic. On a pavement, it is clear it is for pedestrians (even though pavements seem to becoming car parks). I don’t think wheeled traffic and pedestrians mix.

    I am a walker and I also cycle, and don’t like doing either on a shared path. As many others have pointed out here, when walking you spend most of your time looking over your shoulder in case a cyclist is coming up behind. I feel I have to walk in a dead straight line at a constant speed so I am predictable.

    When cycling you are constantly concerned about coming up behind people. Can they hear my approach? Are they deaf or wearing rustly clothing or are they chatting or wearing earphones? I slow down, then call out Good morning or afternoon, but often even that makes them jump then turn and scatter, which is not what I want.

    If people have dogs with them, I slow right down or get off, especially if the dog is very young and unpredictable or old and slow.

    It’s a shame the road racing club members seem to be using this route for time trials and so on. As others have said, a conversation with the relevant cycling clubs would seem to be best. Racing cyclists are just not aware of their effect as they woosh by – even on roads they make me nervous with their silent approach and passing so close, with no thought I might wobble into their path. I prefer cars passing me to fast cyclists when I’m out cycling on roads!

  2. I am a 68yr old male with heart problems and am a very timid cyclist. The Greenway offers a superb opportunity for valuable exercise. I do not use it at the weekends because I am intimidated by the Lycra gangs thrashing along two or three abreast. The Greenway like many such projects is shared between walkers whether or not with their dogs, commuting and leisure cyclists. The funding is from tax payers and a not inconsiderable amount from the road fund licence. Most users have contributed to these facilities. Boy racers are a dangerous menace on the public road and no less a menace on cycle ways. Motor racing is outlawed and enforced on public roads so should cycle racing and reckless riding on road and cycle paths. There are magnificent off road cycling opportunities at the Velodrome and Llandegla to name but two.
    I have not experienced any problems with commuters, after all these guys are going to or coming home from work and although they are up around the 20mph they are in my experience quite considerate.
    No. The peloton mentality Lycra louts are the most dangerous and arrogant group I’ve had the misfortune to meet and generally they are old enough to know better.
    That’s not to say the expanding dog lead and the ubiquitous headphone wearing nit wits are helping strained relationships.
    The bottom line is we all owe a duty of consideration to our fellow users.
    Incidentally I saw a young boy around twelve years of age told by a CSO Last week to get off the pavement and ride down a busy road. No pedestrians in sight and the road frantic with school run drivers at peak time. Discuss….

  3. The answer is to educate all users – in Canada they have successful “shared paths”. Regular signs help. By the way, the reason bells are seldom rung by club cyclists is because they don’t have them. Stupidly it is no longer a legal requirement within the highway code.

  4. I think there are a few issues that need resolving here. Firstly, how about some signs that read “Caution Cyclists” because some walkers don’t seem to realise they are on a national cycle route. You wouldn’t walk down the middle of a country lane, four abreast would you? I think there needs to be some recognition that this isn’t just a footpath. Secondly, some signs emphasising that cyclists must pass other traffic in single file, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been forced over because two cyclists approach thinking there’s enough room for three bikes and I’m sure pedestrians must feel the same. This is even more important when you have large groups of cyclists. Thirdly, dogs should be kept on leads. Every time I have had a near miss on the Greenway it has been due to a dog running in front of me. Its a shared path which relies on people proactively deciding on their actions, dogs don’t think like humans. Next suggestion is some signs that say “Listen for Bells” that might make people consider the use of headphones and again emphasise that it is a shared path. More speed bumps could be considered in areas of heavy use. Lastly, some signs emphasising to join the path with care, many times I’ve almost collided with another user because they haven’t looked as they joined the path. The worst place this happens is in the dip between Blacon and Northgate. I also think the most effective signage is that which is painted onto the surface of the path, it works well on roads and should definitely be considered an effective way to educate all users on what needs to be done to share with safety.

    • These are the most sensible comments that I have read on this topic. Many times I have nearly bumped into a pedestrian with headphones on wandering back and forth, oblivious to their surroundings and other users of the Greenway. It is a “SHARED Use Path”. The clue is in the name……….

  5. I find its the uncouth antisocial inconsiderate few who create the problems. When cycling on the Greenway I ring my bell in advance and getting closer announce ‘Passing on your right or left’ depending on the situation. I prepare to brake if the person is in ‘dreamland’ and sometimes repeat the announcement always prepared to stop or make a joke. To date I haven’t had any problems, that said I will probably experience being insulted next time.

  6. I planned my first trip on the cycleway for weeks; I was really looking forward to a leisurely ride while taking in the beautiful countryside whilst keeping fit and safe of the road. However I had to slam on my brakes 3 times for dogs either running out of the hedges or their owners simply refusing to move out of the middle of the path in spite of clearly seeing me coming even after repeated polite rings of my bell. The worst point was after suggesting keeping the dog on a lead being told to F-off!
    My Message to all dog walkers is why do you have to walk on a CYCLE way? Why can’t you go to a local park? Or Field?
    I don’t understand why you take your dog up and then back down the same length of cycle path during peak cycle time, when cyclist need to commute to work? Cyclist reduces the amount of cars on the road, reduce the number of traffic accidents, save the NHS money, and help save the planet. I also don’t understand the surprised look on dog walkers faces when they turn around to see a bicycle on a cycle path? Millions of pounds have been spent on the Chester cycle path but I won’t be using it again plus I won’t recommend to fellow cyclist, Thank you dog walkers

  7. As a cyclist, walker AND dog walker i understand the varied points of view on this forum.
    I usually ride road bikes with friends on the green way between Burton and Mickle Trafford. Although we do ride at around 15mph we are courteous and slow down when approaching walkers and other cyclists.
    Recently on quite a busy section of the ride, there were other cyclists and also dog walkers in the area. Four riders in “Graham Weigh” kits came flying through shouting and swearing “Get out the F**ing way D**k head and laughing and joking about the situation straight after. The people around us and including us riders were quite shocked at this behaviour.
    All local clubs should in my opinion circulate the message that the Greenway is for LEISURE whether cycling, walking or even dawdling along in a dreamy stupor. It is NOT a race circuit or training track. There riders are giving cyclists a bad name and putting people off using the Greenway AND becoming cyclists. STAY ON THE ROAD IF YOU WANT TO RIDE LIKE IT’S A RACE.

  8. I use the Greenway almost daily, for cycling, walking and dog exercising.
    Virtually all the bad behaviour I’ve encountered comes from cycling clubs. They travel at high speed in packs. They seem to consider the place their own private training ground and are very free with their verbal abuse of anyone who dares get in their way. They’re a bloody menace frankly.
    Perhaps a strongly-worded letter sent directly to these clubs, to their organisation main offices and to the competetive cycling press may have an influence?
    We battled for too many years against the Busway to have the Greenway hijacked by lycra-clad yobs!

  9. Today, on my first walk on the cycle path we were almost mown down by a speeding cyclist. A companion shouted to him as he was so reckless in the way he was riding. Had I not got out of the way at the last second he would have mowed me down. He stopped suddenly and turned back to us and abusing and threatening violence, that he was going to rip my head off justifying his right to speed along the path because he rang his bell. I am deaf so such an audible warning is not quite enough to alert me to a speeding cyclist.
    His behaviour was frightening and irrational and would make me think twice about using the path again. I walk the Wirral Way daily and we do occasionally have inconsiderate cyclists but nothing like I experienced today, very disturbing to come across such cycle path rage. Is this a problem in Chester, could it be solved by separating the path from the cyclists or were we just very unlucky today?

  10. I cycle this route quite often with my husband and it is lovely. However I slow down to walking pace when passing people walking. I don’t know why the speeding bikes can’t just use the road. I slowed down for a man today and a speeding bike came along waving us to get out of the way. When I said slow down to him he very aggressively shouted F off in my face as he passed me. If he is such a speed junky, he shouldn’t be on the shared path. I find the majority of cyclists and walkers polite but so often I see cyclists riding past walkers on the railway bridge over the Dee and by the canal at Chester, when there is obviously little room to do so. Get off sometimes and slow down sometimes, it’s not that difficult is it. Or go on the roads. Try the Manchester Velodrome where you can race to your heart’s content.

  11. This is not a cyclist only problem (tho’ there are undoubtedly some cyclists who create resentment by racing in groups of two or three). Walkers who insist on taking the whole path and dog walkers whose dogs are not properly controlled also create problems.
    Chicanes and speed bumps are barriers to progress and I would see them as retrogressive steps. There are some places at least where the path could be usefully widened and separated for cyclists/ pedestrians – particularly the more urban stretches. There is room for it

  12. i think it should be compulsory to sound a bell when approaching pedestrians from behind on the cycle paths

    • I usually say “Coming up on your right” and if they don’t hear me I slow right down. The bell makes people jump out of your way and then I feel awful.

  13. Interesting article, and once again the primary burden of fault leveled at cyclists. Many cyclists who use the Greenway are courteous, slow down for walkers, families, joggers and dog-walkers. I have a bell and use this as well as slowing down along with a polite greeting. This is usually returned equally as politely. However there are some dog-walkers who feel that their 4 legged friends somehow have priority over others – which is definitely not the case – they should be well controlled and/or on a lead. I have seen a number of small children cycling being frightened by dogs – this really should not happen. Joggers and walkers should also be sensible in their use of headphones. A bit tricky using a bell or calling “hello” when you can’t be heard! And of course a small number of cyclists are at fault – I would hesitate to call them cyclists as they tend to be people new to “cycling” who see the Greenway as a nice traffic free training route – and this is also definitely not the case. If they want to train or ride quickly then go enter a race somewhere.

    As in all cases it is a small minority on all sides who ruin it for all.

  14. Hi – although as a cyclist I am very aware of the dangers on a shared greenway but it makes me increasing cross that we are always the scape goat – I have on numberous occasions been involved in collisions with inconsiderate dog walkers who refuse to control their pets especially when they see a cyclist. I hope the next person is insured as I am – we ALL need to be more considerate .

  15. Walked along the new dee marshes route today, loads of cyclists most said hello and all gave us plenty of room, and all the dog walkers had their dogs under control on a lead, but then if they are caught chasing the numerous sheep the farmer is within the law to shoot the dog.

  16. there is one other thing though DOG OWNERS please pick up you dog muck it is awful especially by kingsway wish I had a £1 for every time I see a dog owner not picking up after there dog it is disgusting and owners should be fined, also a few more bins along the way would help as its not nice carrying it a long way home. thanks.

  17. I have just cycled to neston on the pathway for the first time I am not a serious rider but must admit that even the fast riders were very polite and courteous, also most people walking I found very polite, as a dog walker I must admit I have no problem on the pathway I always pull my dog in for the serious riders as they do go some speed but they always thank me. It was a pleasure to ride it today such a lovely ride.

  18. Given the rise and rise of Strava, this is only going to get worse in my opinion. If you are a Strava user (I actually registered just to see what all the fuss is about) go have a look at the amount of segments on the Greenway and the Dee path. They are both covered with them at time of writing this. Very difficult to share with care when you are head down trying to beat a KOM time.

    Segments may be flagged as dangerous, but only if you are a user and have ridden the segment yourself to prove you looked at them to assess how dangerous they are.

    Shame Strava isn’t used for sensible stuff as it’s a great idea to make segments competitive. Unfortunately it’s policy of self policing dangerous segments just doesn’t work.

  19. I use the greenway on a weekly basis. I confess to averaging a speed of about 18 – 20mph and use strava on every ride to log my route speed etc.

    I think all of this is being blown out of proportion with the minority of idiot cyclist / walker / dog owners self importance and the limitation of a shared route.

    Consideration to others is the key – and needs reiterating to all.

    Do I fly past people at 25mph? – er no – slow right down and a Thankyou when people move out of the way. Very simple. A simple good morning doesn’t go a miss either!

    The main problem is approaching from the rear – best to slow down to near enough walking pace – more so where children / dogs are involved.

    All a bit like saying speeding cars kill? No they don’t in appropriate speed does.

    ‘Walkers keep left’ may seem a good idea but would just fuel more people speeding past assuming too much in regards to the other partys awareness. Dogs on leads is a bit of a no brainer as is cleaning up the mess the leave!

    The only true way of mitigating the risk is to keep the cycle way purely for cycling – but that personally would be a shame as I strongly believe in access to all.

    The idea of speed humps etc is ridiculous. It’s a fantastic facility and let’s fight for it to stay that way.

    I’m happy to sit in on any meetings etc to get a cyclists and professional risk assessors point of view over.

    • 20mph is ludicrous speed…… I think there should be a limit of 10 mph as a “leisure” cyclist I am fed up of lycra clad Bradley Wiggins wanabees with no bells (despite having sat nav) approaching without due warning. One thing that I am sure we all agree on is that people should keep their dogs on a leash at all times.

      • A speed limit of 10 mph would be ridiculous. I’m no Strava junkie but I average around 16mph on most rides. The path isn’t purely for leisure use, it’s also part of the commuter mainframe of the city. The key to safe cycling is to slow down when needed.

  20. I fully support the greenway/ shared path article – however there also needs to be a similar set of advice for walkers. I also always sound my bell, and slow down; but walkers need to acknowledge and give a cyclist the space they need (by not wandering around in the middle of the path). And not shouting abuse, when we have given fair warning and slowed.

  21. “We are aware of the recent increase in cycling on the pavements of Grosvenor Bridge during the closure of the pedestrian/cyclist footbridge behind the Roodee. Any cyclist considering doing this is advised to dismount if pedestrians are present on the footway”.

    An alternative route is down castle drive, and over the old dee bridge making full use of the ASL for cyclists only, and holding the middle of the lane, then signalling a right turn just after the pub, and turning right along the cyclepath under the grosvenor bridge and up through the Dingle woods, and your on Hough Green.

    Also if you cycle over Grosvenor bridge, assert your right to use the road by taking up the primary positon about 2 fot from the kerb annd hold that position, until you reach the junction controlled by lights atOverleigh Roundabout.

    Errant or threatening motorists should be reported to the police on 101, for their action.

  22. This is a city where motorists driving on the pavements is commonplace and tolerated. I don’t think a cycling organisation should be telling people not to cycle on pavements in those circumstances. Chester’s pavements are a free-for-all.

  23. I use this path and always slow down and always say thank you if someone makes the effort to move to one side. I am reluctant to use my bell as this appears to annoy lots of people as they take it that you are saying “out of the way” rather than warning them that you are approaching.

    I do find most people are considerate but there are dogs walkers who do not keep there dogs under control and clearly don’t think they should have to since they are away from the road.

  24. Dogs running loose is the biggest problem on the greenway. Second is people occupying the full width of the path. Third is people ignoring a cyclist’s bell or making negative comments when bells are used. Why are people so surprised when a cyclist whizzes by?

  25. As a frequent user of the path, some cyclists do exceed what is a safe speed, just like a lot of motorists do on the roads.

    What we need to try and achieve a share with care ideology, where dog owners clear their dogs mess, where children and dogs are kept under control,and where a minority of cyclists respect other path users, by slowing down, saying thankyou, when walkers move to the side, or dogs are controled.

    Ring a bell ,blow a whistle, slow down or stop, because not everyone is able to or have access to a bike, and we dont want to alienate future cyclists against becomiong prospective cyclists.

    • I fully agree with you about clearing up dog mess, it’s disgusting, what must their houses and gardens be like?
      From my experience as a dog walker, pedestrian and cyclist, Most dog walkers do control their dogs when they know a cyclist is approaching. I am not quite sure why children should be kept under control as well. The whole idea of this path is that we can all use it. While out walking one day with my sister and her 2 children with both dogs on leads, we were subjected to abuse from a group of cyclists in lycra who were obviously racing. I am sorry we did not get out of their way quickly enough! They did not use their bells otherwise we might have reacted a little bit quicker as they surely had right of way, being for more important than us.
      Please refer to my letter in the Chester Standard 25th July 2013. I have just as much right to use this path to exercise my dog in peace as long as I clean up after him and get out of the way quickly enough.

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