Pedals, a campaign group in Notts opposes cycle barriers planned along the tram route in Compton Acres and Ruddington Lane.
Rushcliffe Borough Council hopes that the barriers will stop illegal motorcycle riding on the path, but Matt Turner, Chair of Pedals, says they are unlikely to solve the problem and will instead stop many people (especially older riders and people with disabilities) from being able to cycle on the path at all.
“This really is a case of working with the Police to tackle illegal motorbike activity. If you take the approach of physically trying to block out these nuisance motorcycle riders, rather than catch the individuals involved, then you block out lots of other people too and you make a crucial part of the cycle network unusable. We are asking Rushcliffe Borough Council to reconsider.”
Barriers proved to be an emotive subject among people who cycle in the Nottingham area, especially older riders, people riding with children and riders with disabilities.
Disabled cyclist, Michael Metcalfe says “Cycling access is vital to my independence.
“Inconsistency in barrier design really restricts my movements around the city and at times, completely blocks my use of places of natural beauty within Nottinghamshire. I am forced to avoid many of the parks, cycle paths and countryside areas and stay on the roads (because my recumbent trike can’t fit through the barriers).”
David Alexander agrees, saying “I ride my trike because of medical conditions because I wish to continue cycling & and two-wheelers are no longer possible for me. Getting off and lifting this round chicanes and similar obstacles are becoming increasingly difficult.”
Alan Clarke says “I cycle towing my daughter in our trailer, any kind of weave through the barrier is a nightmare for us.”
Pedals oppose cycle path barriers on the grounds that they –
• Discriminate against disabled and elderly riders (not everyone rides a standard 2-wheeled cycle, and not everyone has the physical strength to manhandle a cycle through an awkward gap. There hasn’t yet been a test case to set a clear legal precedent, but it is possible barriers like these could be breaking the Equality Act 2010.
• Discourage people from making journeys by bike by compromising an integral part of Nottingham’s protected off-road cycle network.
• Don’t work as an effective deterrent due to the similarity in size between cycles and the various types of motorbikes associated with nuisance riding.
Matt Turner continues “It’s really encouraging to see organisations like Sustrans working to remove discriminatory barriers on their routes. Nottingham has ambitious targets to increase the number of people cycling and we must do everything we can to make sure routes are accessible for everyone who wants to cycle.”