Gate obstructs cycle route

stork
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Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by stork »

In King's Lynn, Norfolk, the County Council have decided to obstruct a major cycle route (also part of NCN1) by closing an access gate and locking it with a padlock. Although the route is still reasonably accessible on a standard bike, access is difficult with anything different (tandem, bike with trailer etc.).

The location is here (looking south): https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=lynn+road+gaywood&ll=52.756464,0.418596&spn=0.007857,0.013797&hnear=Lynn+Rd,+King%27s+Lynn+PE30+4PR,+United+Kingdom&t=m&z=16&layer=c&cbll=52.757274,0.416069&panoid=Lxj2lR_-yh_AiO3en5Wwdw&cbp=12,197.36,,0,12.46. On Google Maps the gate is open.

I have complained about this and the County Council claim that the access is adequate with the gate locked shut (it isn't) and that they could not possibly install a bollard as cyclists would then come straight out onto the footway or road (presumably by jumping over the railings to get onto the road?). Yet if you look at the north side of the road, there is just a bollard (there are two on Google Maps, but one has been removed to make access easier).

Am I being unreasonable to suggest that they should remove the padlock for now and then install a lockable bollard eventually (there does need to be occasional access for motor vehicles, apparently because of a main gas pipeline somewhere along there)?
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meic
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by meic »

There appears to be a Sustrans route sticker on the post. I would hope that they too are unhappy about the restricted access* and may be in a better position to know how to approach the problem.

They may decide that it is not worth rocking the boat of their relations with the council over, however their/your position is strengthened by having objections from different sources, ie working together.
I would be looking to find a disabled person who wants to use that path (or at least to be able to use it in principle) and can not get through as that raises the disability-equality issues that they can not brush off so easily.

*Though there is worse on the popular Route 8 Taff Trail. :evil:
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thirdcrank
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by thirdcrank »

Forum member Rob Archer may be able to give you some background info.
Vorpal
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by Vorpal »

I wish you luck with it. I made numerous complaints to Essex County Council over routes where I could not get my tandem and/or trailer through.

If a mobility scooter won't fit through, and it is a shared route, disability groups may be allies. Local authorities are somewhat more likely to do something about complaints from disability groups.
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Richard Mann
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by Richard Mann »

Report it as an obstruction to the highway. You are a legitimate user and they are obliged to remove obstructions.
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meic
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by meic »

I remember a similar path where "highways" just said it was nothing to do with them.

I didnt quite understand it at the time. It is quite possible that such paths are just public amenities and not actually highways, like for example a path through a public park.
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Mark1978
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by Mark1978 »

From experience of dealing with councils they don't consider cycle paths to be highways, but 'rights of way'. So they will be dealt with by the rights of way department rather than highways.
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by Vorpal »

The 'rights of way' department mainly deal with managing PROW (establishing, moving, temporary chages, etc.), maintenance of the definitive map, and PROW consultations. They do not actually maintain them. Maintenance of PROW typically falls under the highways department.

However, they may be maintained by another local authority (e.g. district council) rather than the county highways department.
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gaz
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by gaz »

stork wrote:In King's Lynn, Norfolk, the County Council have decided to obstruct a major cycle route (also part of NCN1) by closing an access gate and locking it with a padlock. Although the route is still reasonably accessible on a standard bike, access is difficult with anything different (tandem, bike with trailer etc.).


To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee: That's not an obstruction, this is an obstruction...
Image

AFAICT the stretch of NCN1 that your barrier is on is not a PROW and is most probably a "permissive path". That severely restricts your legal options. There may be a "Deed of Agreement" setting out the exact terms of the permissive access but I expect it will provide for the gate to be closed.

Good luck getting anything done about it.
And the days go by, like a strand in the wind, in the web that is my own, I begin again
Mark1978
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by Mark1978 »

Gates and barriers on cycle paths are invariably bad news and discourage people from using the routes, especially if there are excessive amounts of barriers to negotiate along a route.

As I said to Gateshead Council -- you have to weigh up the potential problems caused by occasional unauthorized access to the route, to the real problems it causes to real users of the path every single day.
Rob Archer
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by Rob Archer »

It is pretty appalling as Stork says. It's impossible to get a full size tandem through without both riders dismounting. A few years ago I regularly rode the route with a blind stoker and it really was a pain. I suspect it would fall foul of Norfolk County Council's accessibility policies.
stork
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by stork »

Thanks for the comments and support. I know Rob, and we've discussed this problem.

I think it might be worth asking Sustrans whether they're interested. It may also be worth looking at the Council's accessibility policies, although I'm not sure whether they have any in respect of highway engineering. Their current response is completely inadequate -- there's no suggestion that they've even considered the alternatives properly (e.g. bollards, self-closing gates), nor that they even understand why there might be a problem.
Pete Owens
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by Pete Owens »

Presumably this is the same stretch of route in the conversion of a cycleway to a road thread:
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=72898
One advantage of such a conversion is that you would not be subject to any of this nonsense.

Campaigners really need to make clear whether they consider cycles as serious transport or as toys. Looking at the design - here and elsewhere - the council clearly thinks the latter so they have provided a leisure facility where you can load you bike in the back of your car, drive to the leisure centre and ride up and down for a bit without encountering roads. They do not consider it as a transport link to get anywhere but as a destination - just like a velodrome ore a BMX circuit. From this perspective there is no question of it being a right of way and erecting barriers to prevent cyclists straying onto roads, rather than constructing junctions so that you can ride seamlessly from the road to the track and vice-versa makes perfect sense. When local cyclists complain about upgrading a section of the track to a highway they are reinforcing that point of view.
stork
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by stork »

Pete

Actually, this is not on the stretch where the council is proposing to turn the cycle track into a road, although it is quite nearby (about 1/4 mile south of the sports centre). Overall, the route is one of the better cycleways around, and it is in many respects preferable to the alternative on-road routes. It is reasonably wide, reasonably well-surfaced, more direct than on-road routes for many journeys, and mostly straight or with good sight lines. It also connects worthwhile destinations rather than just being there for the sake of it: at the southern end the route goes into King's Lynn town centre, near Gaywood road it serves two out of three high schools and a shopping area, it serves Lynnsport and the North Lynn industrial estate, and numerous housing areas. The majority of cycle traffic, as far as I can make out, comprises utility trips (commuting, school trips, shopping, leisure centre visits).

Also, other than at this particular gate, cycle traffic can join roads seamlessly at all other crossings. The upstand at the kerb is virtually zero too at these junctions, better than in many other places.

Cyclists locally are working to counter the County Council's (apparent) view that cycling is not a form of transport to be taken seriously. So, while I understand where you're coming from, I think that it is right to try to preserve high-quality, direct routes, particularly when the current motor-traffic options are less convenient.
Rob Archer
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Re: Gate obstructs cycle route

Post by Rob Archer »

I had a look at this last night. The path outside the gate is a wide shared-use foot /cycle path which ends just to the north of the gate so what's the problem with cyclists riding straight onto it? Note the 'modifications' to the brickwork which have made it a little easier to negotiate!
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