Problems on the shared-use paths

There have been reports in the Lancaster Guardian recently of a few pedestrians being harassed by speeding and/or inconsiderate cyclists on our shared-use paths.  It’s easy for cyclists to go into “what about” mode – “what about that pedestrian who walked out in front of me on the A6 and knocked me off?”or “what about that uncontrolled dog?” – but it is true that there is some poor and thoughtless cycling going on.  So: “What about that group cycling three abreast?”

This is Dynamo’s response:

It is very unfortunate that a minority of cyclists are making the use of the shared used path uncomfortable for other users through lack of consideration. The basic rule of using shared use paths is to alert people to your presence and give way to more vulnerable users, and the vast majority of cyclists do so.  Pedestrians too can help the situation by walking towards the side of the path, rather than down the centre, which allows all users more space, and dog walkers should keep their dogs on a short lead, as the thin extendable leads are an unacceptable hazard.

The Caton to Morecambe shared use path is one of the major successes of the improvements at the end of the 1990s, as shown by the many people who enjoy this route, and so are able to travel without the dangers presented by cars. Each year, there are more than 1.2 million deaths across the world due to crashes involving motor vehicles and tens of millions more people are injured. Lancaster itself has some of the country’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians and cyclists, according to the Road Safety Foundation. When problems arise we must give them some thought and try to remedy – certainly the shared use paths are not for racing and cyclists should travel at a suitable speed for the conditions at the time.

However, we should avoid adopting the thinking of “cycling versus pedestrians”, when we should be working together to improve the provision of off road routes. It may be the case that existing shared use paths should be widened where possible to cope with the usage. In a way, this is a problem that we should all embrace, that so many people are choosing healthier and more sustainable ways to travel, and is one to bear in mind when we look at extending the shared use path across Heysham Moss, to ensure that it is wide enough and suitable for all users: pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.


About lancasterdynamo

Dynamo is a cycling group, established in 1994, to work with official bodies, other cycling organisations and interested individuals to promote cycling as a safe, enjoyable and healthy means of transport.
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One Response to Problems on the shared-use paths

  1. ride3ree says:

    Your comment is apt regarding path width: I heard that the designers of the Morecambe Greenway immediately regretted not making it wider.
    There does need to be some kind of increase in ‘sharing’ knowledge, I don’t know how to bring it about though. Many cyclists don’t use bells, but then many pedestrians don’t react to them anyway. I have had people complaining about my speed when doing less than 10mph on an otherwise empty path, so speed is relative!

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