Sustrans is to increase its lobbying efforts to secure the removal of anti-motorbike barriers from the National Cycle Network. Such barriers often prevent use of cycleways by oversize bikes, wheelchair users and those towing child-trailers.
Will Haynes, Head of Built Environment at Sustrans told BikeBiz: “Barriers are an issue on many traffic-free paths. While they were originally installed as a well-meaning response to understandable concerns regarding the safety of path users and the amenity of local residents, in reality they restrict access to many legitimate path users, such as wheelchair users, disabled cyclists, people with inclusive cycles and families with trailers."
He added: "Sustrans is working with landowners around the country to help reduce or remove restrictive barriers, as all the evidence suggests that as the path gets busier, anti-social behaviour decreases.”
To highlight the removal of barriers from along one of Greater Manchester’s most popular traffic-free paths the Lord Mayor of Manchester Carl Austin-Behan and his Consort Simon Austin-Behan rode a tandem along the Fallowfield Loop cycle and walking route.
Riders with tandems, bicycles adapted for disability use and child trailers can now access the six-mile linear park, which had regular barriers along its length as well as at access points to roads, to deter use by motorised vehicles.
Sustrans worked with the Friends of the Fallowfield Loop throughout the summer on a trial removal of barriers along the path. A survey of 300 people found that the barrier-removal was a positive move, with little noticeable difference on motorcycle use.
Karen Brenchley, Network Development Manager for Sustrans in the North West said:
“The new open access has proved extremely popular with all types of bicycle users. While the barriers were originally installed for understandable reasons, in reality they blocked many of the people who most benefit from using this traffic-free path. By helping to create a vibrant route we hope the "Floop" will continue to develop as a healthy travel option, avoiding roads, for people to walk and cycle around Manchester.”
The Fallowfield Loop was the former Manchester Central railway line, which was converted to a cycle and walking route in the 1990s. Local authority guidelines at the time stipulated barriers to deter use of the former railway line by cars and motor-bikes.