In response to recent and ongoing concern at the level of conflict between pedestrian and cyclist users of local shared-use paths, Sustrans and Chester Cycling Campaign have been holding awareness raising events on local cycle paths. Events so far have taken place on the Chester Millennium Greenway at the Old Station Site in Blacon, and on the Dee Marshes cycle path near Burton.
Sustrans owns and manages of the Chester Millennium Greenway and is determined to ensure more considerate use of the facilities they provide. Mike Dagley, volunteer coordinator for Sustrans in the North West says, “Conflict on shared-use paths is an issue that we are having to address on a national scale, but we do seem to have two particular hotspots on the Chester area; one on the Greenway through Blacon and another on the new route through Burton Marshes from Sealand to Ness. In many ways the success of these facilities and the fantastic increase in their use in recent years is helping to exacerbate the problem, but as so often it is a very small minority of cyclists and walkers that cause the conflict and it is this group we are trying to address”.
Chester Cycling Campaign is totally committed to supporting Sustrans in their effort to reduce conflict. We are keen to see cyclists take the lead in good behaviour. Campaign members have turned out in force to support the events in Blacon and at Burton. Campaign member Peter Williams emphasises the point, “We are talking about a relatively small number of incidents but any one of these can cause a massive level of local upset. We do not believe this to be a problem that is in any way limited to cyclists but as bicycles have the greater potential to create injury, whether initiated by their riders’ actions or not, we feel cyclists must take the lead in sharing the path responsibly”.
The event at Blacon received very positive feedback from the vast majority of the users that were spoken to but sadly there was a small but not insignificant proportion of users that were not willing to enter any dialogue.
Local Councillor Reggie Jones was present at the Blacon event. Although he felt generally positive about the feedback from users, he warned, “We are very concerned that unless matters improve, then more draconian measures may be required. This might include restrictions to free and easy use of the Greenway – chicanes, speed bumps, or gates. This is something we would prefer to avoid, but something more will be necessary if we cannot change the attitude of the careless few”.
Paul the cyclist, I hope I speak for the majority of walkers, with or without dogs/children, we have absolutely no problem with considerate cyclists, who cycle at a reasonable pace, who ring their bell if approaching from behind, and smile and say hello, or thank you etc. It is the cyclists who do not have a bell and shout “to your right/left” as they flash by out of nowhere (as a walker with a dog I constantly look behind me to see if a bike is coming). I have given up going at weekends or times when a lot of cyclists use the route for this reason.
Being a volunteer for SUSTRANS and haveing stood for many hours at both Blacon and Burton marshes along with others talking to cyclists and pedestrians, its just a very small minority of both camps who upset each other, pedestrians who fail to control dogs, children and deliberately move all over the path and ignore bell rings and a pleasant Hello from us cyclists, then somtimes become abusive when we pass slowly, and SOME cyclists who think the path is their personal motorway and you should be allowed to speed, just like some motorists.
What we should all aim for is to share with care,because in an incident requiring medical assistance, just how long are you going to have to wait for a ambulance staff member to attend, there is no easy access for vehicles, due to locked gates and cars parked accross gates, eg at Saughall
So slow down smile, say Hello and ding your bell, dog walkers keep your dogs under control, and parents teach your children a shared route should be treated the sanme as a road.