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.
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.