EVER since the opening of the Nantwich
section of the Greenway - a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists linking
Nantwich with Crewe - I had expected that I might witness a
confrontation between a walker who wasn't fully au fait with the set-up
and a cyclist.
I envisaged the walker waving
their fist - or walking stick - at the cyclist with the admonition:
''Don't ride on the footpath!''
I didn't think I would be the
one on the receiving end of a situation (confrontation is possibly too
strong a word for what happened.)
I was walking along the Beam
Street section of the Greenway, on the right-hand side of the path as it
happened, when I noticed a cyclist on a collision course (on his
left-hand side of the path). I wasn't too bothered; when this happened
previously the cyclist simply rode round me. No problem. But it became clear
that this cyclist would not be moved.
Not wanting to take my eyes off
him to look over my shoulder - in case there was a cyclist approaching
from behind - to step out of his way, I stood
still and left it to the cyclist to take appropriate action. He rode
past me by going on to the grass at the side of the Greenway - but not
before he had shouted ''Keep to the left!''
Totally amazed I turned round
to see him continue his journey along the Greenway. This was also one of
those body language episodes to let any near-by observers of the
situation know my reaction.
BUT I also thought I would check with
someone I knew on Cheshire East Council (no, I'm not name dropping!) and
sure enough they elicited a comment from people in the know - Sustrans
who are the promoters of the Connect2 scheme nationally.
The reassuring comment
that came back from Sustrans, a Bristol-based registered charity, was: ''The Connect2 greenway is intended for
equal shared use; it is unsegregated so user groups don't become
'possessive' about their patch.
There are no
'rules' about keeping to a side, just, we hope, the one of
common sense . . . for cyclists not to speed, pedestrian groups
not to spread out
NOT long afterwards I was in a
different situation in Monk's Lane in the town centre (left). Walking
along that footpath I suddenly heard a polite voice behind me
say ''Excuse me, please.'' Not realising I was hogging the path, I moved to one side. A cyclist rode
past me - clearly oblivious to the fact that it is a
no-cycling route. True, there wasn't a sign at the South Crofts
end from where the cyclist had come (there is now ), but there
was one part-way
along - opposite the Bowling Green pub - and one at the Churchyardside end of Monk's Lane (pictured).
Admittedly, these can
be hidden in the hedge bordering the adjacent Dysart Buildings
frontage at times, but they are currently clearly visible. Is it
just that people don't understand the meaning of signs any more?
across the whole width and dog
walkers not to let dogs roam out of control, etc.'' So there you have it.
There are no "lanes" on the Greenway. It's "unsegregated".
Not having seen
anything to the contrary, I felt that would be the situation.
For one thing, if it was segregated, if there was a ''Keep to the
Left'' rule, there
would need to be a line down the middle of the Greenway with
arrows every now and again showing which side you should be on.
Then again, would cyclists have to ride behind pedestrians to
the end of the Greenway, or would they be permitted to cross
into the opposite lane to get past the slower walker? No, it would
be too ridiculous for words.
l Another word
from Sustrans: "Monks Lane / South Crofts is just one of
the access issues into the town centre of Nantwich. When cycling from Crewe Road into the town there is no
direct legal route. Hospital Street is one-way
outbound only, and Monks Lane is pedestrian only! We
feel both these routes can allow for two-way cycling
with careful design.
the town centre itself, the only vehicle banned is the
bicycle! We have produced a traffic engineer's
report to show how with some very simple changes
cyclists could be allowed in the town centre. This would
then complete this section of the National Cycle
Network, NCN451 and Regional Route 75 and allow the
routes to be promoted.
have been taken up with Cheshire East Council."
Good luck with that! Nantwich Civic Society didn't get very far with Cheshire
East Council when they tried to have the paviours (setts) re-laid for the
safety of pedestrians.
Another thing, the local vandals like nothing more than
to turn signs to face in the wrong direction, whether
traffic signs or those guiding cyclists. Perhaps Sustrans can get "immovable" signs along Route 75. I
have never understood why sign posts are circular,
allowing the easy realignment of the sign. Square posts
and brackets would surely thwart the vandal.