Monday, 26 November 2012

Increasing Legitimate Use

In previous blog posts I have shown one of my commutes along the TPT and moaned about the problems the various obstacles along its route cause me and many others problems.  Horse styles, A-Frames, gates all to try and prevent things like antisocial behaviour and off road motor bikes.

I recently visited the Monsal Trail. They have an uninterrupted surface along its length.  Although as it is an old railway it doesn’t have many roads to cross, but there are many access points.  This wonderful surface, coupled with great access for wheelchairs, trailers, bike hire and not to mention a great cafĂ© meant the route was busy and full of people having a jolly smashing day out.

The TPT where I live isn’t like that.  It is overgrown in parts. It has to be maintained mostly by a group of Sustrans Rangers / volunteers (and I have been and helped out, its hard work with just a few hands). It is completely under used and undervalued.   What then in turn happens, is the local council in their infinite wisdom erect barriers everywhere.  They try in vain to keep the ‘unwanted’ users out.  To keep it untouched.

But what invariably happens is they keep out the legitimate users. This in itself creates an environment where antisocial behaviour prospers. 

Imagine a ‘sink estate’, the ones the Daily Mail like to write stories about to frighten their readers. Think of the imaginary Shameless estate.  The no go areas.  These are prime examples of what happens when the good people are kept away and nobody is left to say ‘That’s not right’ or ‘Don’t do that’ (or put that old Granny down before you break her).

Making environments attractive and accessible for everyone is the key to eliminating the sort of behaviour that ruins places for everyone.

This is one of my routes onto the TPT.

It used to be open as it was, when I was younger, our usual Sunday trip to the local rubbish tip. 

But it became a rat run.  It was almost a race track for ‘joy riders’ and boy racers. It was a though route to Broadheath, Partington, Lymm, the country lanes and beyond.  A get out of jail card for those predisposed to a bit of late night TWOC’ing.  

So it became gated and we ended up with horrendous speed bumps along our road (which I might add do nothing to slow anyone down).  Now I might be getting old, but since cars have become more difficult to steal, notwithstanding the odd Mitsubishi that gets the keys fished through the owners letterbox and the advent of the police helicopter, is this still really a massive problem?

As far as I can tell it is still a right of way. It is a green dotted line on OS maps. Here is is on Google.

View Larger Map

I have questioned this and been told to use the mound of earth at one side to get through, where someone has helpfully gone round the gate.

Great, although I don’t see how that will work with a trailer/wheelchair/tandem/trike etc etc etc.  And that’s not really the point.  If it is a right of way, then it needs to be open.  The route through here has been well documented my Mad Bike Lanes here

I have asked a few people I know in United Utilities, who have suggested that Trafford Council erected the gate/fence as they had problems with fly tipping.

Can anyone help me with information on how we would go about getting proper access?


  1. The gate is a very dramatic way to try and prevent fly-tipping, fly tippers are very lazy so a few bollards that stop their vehicles getting through should suffice. And you only stop fly-tippers by prosecuting them or providing somewhere for them to legally dump their rubbish - barriers just displace the problem.
    Standard practice should be 2 fixed bollards 3m apart with a collapsible/removable bollard in the middle so service vehicles can get in.
    You can't stop a motorbike without stopping legitimate users, the council know this but still use the fear of illegal motorcycling (which is much worse that the reality) to justify their expensive, over-engineered barriers to cycling.
    Wheelchairs and pushchairs are legally defined as 'natural accompaniments' - it would be great if a similar legal precedent could be made for trikes, trailers, bakfiets etc!

  2. Here's some advice from the DfT:
    Cycle Infrastructure Design (Local Transport Note 2/08 October 2008)
    8.14 Access control
    8.14.1 Barriers at cycle route access points are commonly provided to prevent entry by cars and vans etc. They become more of a problem for cyclists when designed to exclude motorcycles. Motorcycle barriers should only be introduced after a definite need has been established, because measures that reliably exclude motorcycles invariably exclude some cyclists, including users of tricycles, cycle trailers and handcranked cycles. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters will also be excluded. Dismounting to manoeuvre a cycle with an occupied child seat through barriers can be hazardous.

  3. Jonathan, is it a cycle route though, or is it a right of way on foot only?

    This is the Scrambling to Success report (The Problems and Solutions to illegal off-road motorcycling in Greater Manchester) which talks a good game but doesnt really deliver much.

  4. Your points about barriers also apply to my previous blog posts about the TPT in Dunham Massey

  5. If it's a right of way (as suggested by the OS map) then it's illegal to block it. How about asking the council's legal department what the status of the route is, they should be able to say whether it's a footpath, bridleway, or other right of way or not.

    If it is a right of way, make a legal fuss. If you're a CTC member you could try asking their solicitors, or contact the Cyclists Defence Fund to see if they'd be interested in funding a court case.

    If it isn't a right of way, then nothing can be done straight away. However if you can gather evidence that the public have used this route unobstructed for 20 years or more, then you might manage to force it to become a right of way. I'm not sure whether the current gates affect that, though...

    1. Thanks Fonant.

      I have tried to speak to one of our local (Tory) councillors who said and I quote "The gates are staying", not entirely helpful.....

      I will make a fuss. I am quite good at that