A Letter from Nantwich

September 2011                                                                                   

Face to face with a cyclist on pathway


















The Beam Street section of the Greenway - scene of a minor confrontation with a cyclist

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 [2015]), 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.


     "In 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.

   "These issues 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.


The charity behind the way people travel in the UK

TO quote the message at the foot of e-mails sent out by Sustrans Limited, the Bristol-based registered charity:

   "Sustrans makes smarter travel choices possible, desirable and inevitable. We're a leading UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day.


   "It's time we all began making smarter travel choices. Make your move and support Sustrans today: www.sustrans.org.uk.

   "Sustrans believes every child deserves to be free range, with freedom from their front door to explore, play outdoors, and make their own way to school and beyond. Join in and add your voice at www.sustrans.org.uk/freerangekids.


lThe North West regional office of Sustrans is at St Paul's Centre, Hightown, Crewe, CW1 3BY. The North West Regional Director is Peter Foster (Tel: 01270 211030; Fax: 01270 250683).

Here's a PDF of an interesting four-page Sustrans newsletter | www.sustrans.org.uk/policy-evidence/the-impact-of-our-work/rural-promenade-between-nantwich-and-crewe

Previous Greenway letter | Completed Greenway officially opened | Monk's Lane problem | Letters index


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