THE report on the Rothbury Parish Council meeting in last week’s Northumberland Gazette raised some interesting issues regarding the success of the upgraded bridleway alongside the River Coquet.
The upgrading of this route was carried out at the behest of Sustrans, the cycling charity which promotes the use of cycling and develops safe cycling routes throughout the UK.
The intention was to produce a safe cycling route between Rothbury and Thropton and the second phase of the project has yet to be carried out.
Naturally, the improved bridleway has become a favourite route for walkers and at holiday times it has become extremely busy, with children, dogs and prams adding to the congestion.
Unfortunately, the new surface is not wide enough to provide separate lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, so successful operation of this shared path will depend on tolerance and respect being used on all sides.
In fact, Sustrans publishes a code of conduct which asks cyclists to be courteous to other users, give way to pedestrians, leaving plenty of room, be prepared to slow down or stop if necessary and use a bell to warn pedestrians of their approach.
It is interesting to compare similar shared paths in other countries with higher cycle usage.
In Holland, for instance, there is a marked tolerance between cyclists and pedestrians and if we are to increase cycling in the UK, there needs to be a change of culture in this respect.
The signs proposed in Rothbury should make it clear that the path is intended for shared use and ask both cyclists and pedestrians to respect each others’ right to use the path, in a friendly and courteous manner.