Stop barriers on Chester Millennium Greenway

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Cheshire West and Cheshire Council, working with Sustrans North West, are intending to place two sets of concrete blocks to form chicanes on a stretch of the Millennium Greenway nearby to Newton Primary School. The aim is to slow down fast cyclists who are causing concern for people, especially during school opening and closing times.

While we recognise that inconsiderate cycling is a problem, we do not think that placing physical measures such as chicanes are an appropriate solution. Obstructing fast cyclists in this way will successfully slow them down, but such measures will cause awkward - and potentially impassable - obstructions for the majority of users of the path.

The nature of such chicanes means that the following users will be impeded by these barriers:

  • People using adapted cycles as mobility aids such as recumbent tricycles, handcycles and wheelchair tandems, all of which tend to be longer and wider than ‘normal’ bicycles.
  • People using bike trailers to carry children, which are wider and articulated, making it difficult to negotiate the chicanes
  • People using other longer bikes, such as tandems and cargo bikes, on which tight corners are difficult to negotiate
  • People with visual impairment or other disability who also might find it difficult to negotiate the chicane at slow speed
  • Parents / guardians with wide pushchairs
  • Wheelchair users

We are also concerned that, due to the Greenway being unlit, these blocks will be a hazard at night. This stretch of Greenway is particularly dark due to it being tree-lined and many people use bicycle lights that aren’t effective at illuminating the path ahead (they’re just used to ‘be seen’).

The Greenway is a valued asset in Chester and provides an alternative route for getting around, away from motorised traffic and air pollution. Cycling isn’t just a sporting activity, it’s an inclusive mode of transport for all that requires a safe environment to cycle in. As one of the few traffic free routes for cycling in Chester, we do not wish to see it degraded with physical measures that will negatively affect the majority its users.

We gather that there will be a trial period to see if the barriers work. However, we feel that the introduction of barriers in this manner is a ‘slippery slope’ and once installed are difficult to justify removing.

We urge the council to consider other measures such as further painted surface treatments and speed limit signs, or other signage to further help reinforce the idea that inconsiderate cycling is anti-social and causes concern for others.