It is not only the below standard cycle barriers that restrict users that are causing problems, but now the path surface itself is breaking up, and that’s all before the cycle route / pathway is officially handed into public ownership.
There are now further problems developing on the Mill Springs shared Footpath/CycleWay.
Small mounds are appearing in the tarmac surface as organic material below that had not been removed is starting to push through the substandard construction. These ‘mounds’ are already starting to crack. Over the winter any water in them will freeze and expand, breaking up the surface further and creating a danger not only for cycling but also as a trip hazard to pedestrians and anyone with sight or mobility impairments.
The issue has been brought to the attention of Whitchurch Town Council as this should really be remedied before the path is handed over from the developer into public ownership. If not dealt with now it may result in expensive maintenance and repair costs as well as potential legal claims which could then fall on local residents to pay. Most are starting to appear at the top end of the site but they are appearing lower down too.
The longer it is left the worse it will become.
Below – just some of the cracks already appearing.
Whitchurch Town Council removed the ‘new’ town centre cycle parking as it was deemed to restrict access to some businesses – amongst the reasons it was claimed that it prevented them using the pavements to park on for loading/unloading.
The result is as expected – those visiting town by cycle are using shop windows, bollards, street signs and drainpipes to lean their cycles against. This can justifiably upset some people.
Survey The Town Council ran a survey to seek where parking was required and most respondees wanted parking in the town centre close to where they were visiting. However Councillors decided cycle parking should go elsewhere.
But cycling is good for trade There are numerous studies that have shown provision of such facilities increases trade and they have made themselves into planning policies. Unfortunately Whitchurch lags behind and the centre with its car congested roads along with pavement parking is seen by some as making it unattractive to visit. See: PARKING VALUE and ECONOMICS
Missing the point Some believe that painting some of the buildings, or smartening the town bollards with black and gold paint will revitalise the centre into a tourist hotspot. Yes they may make it visually smarter but they will not address one of the underlying blights – that too many unnecessary motor journeys clog the town with motor traffic, increase dangers, raise air pollution and create an unpleasant experience. Lobbying will continue.
Meanwhile the Urban Cycling group has produced the following image. It seems to be very pertinent to the situation in Whitchurch.
Has anyone used the new Shared Cycle/Pedestrian path at Mill Springs in Whitchurch?
‘Chicane’ barriers have been erected at each end that are making it difficult for a number of users. (click on pics to enlarge)
Staggered ‘chicane’ railings have been placed on the David Wilson Homes development that are causing access issues making the route less convenient and appealing to those it is supposed to cater for.
These are especially awkward for those with pushchairs, prams, wheelchairs or using mobility scooters, as well as for larger cycles such as tandems, tricycles, cargo bikes or those with the popular family trailers and tagalongs. For some the barriers make it impassable. While there has not been a legal case they may also be breaking the requirements of the 2010 Equality Act.
The picture at the Micheldever Road end shows that some people are avoiding the barriers by going around them. That of course is not possible for some with mobility scooters or with less manoeuverable cycles. There has even been an attempt to block this desire line, with installation of a ‘bollard bodge’.
Meanwhile at the other end of the path, by the new changing rooms, there are also barriers and bollards, again with similar access issues. Here there are two removable bollards which are fine for controlling access by motor vehicles, but then another ‘chicane’ barrier. The result is that maintenance vehicles have been churning up the grass to go around the staggered barriers. Why was this placed here? It would be useful to hear the thinking!
Such chicane barriers are being removed in parts of the country – yet here in Whitchurch they are installed. Whitchurch should, and can, do better.
Whitchurch Town Council has launched a survey to find out where cycle parking could be provided in the town. If you visit Whitchurch, even if only occasionally, you can help.
Do you visit the cafés, shops, parks, businesses, local services? Where would help you?
Early in 2020 the Town Council had installed parking racks in the centre to help prevent leaning on windows and to provide facilities for cyclists wanting to call into the cafés and shops. A number of local businesses along with some residents lobbied the Council and the decision was overturned and the racks removed. Where do these cycle parking racks now go? There are 8 available.
It is noticeable that cycling has massively increased and with the easing in lockdown and the better weather it is likely to grow further.
Cycles are already starting to be leant against walls and windows in the centre as cyclists like to park close to where they are visiting. Cyclists bring trade, as well as easing road space, reducing NHS costs and helping Climate Change aims so we should be encouraging it even more.