Today I went down to the Whitesands and the Bakers’ Oven to look at and comment on the flood defence plans. From what I’ve seen, the good news is that they have at least considered bikes and recognise the importance of the Whitesands as a bike route.
Issues of concern are:
- Social safety using the Whitesands path after dark, given that there will be a massive great bank between the path and the road (and any passers by). Apparently there are plans for better lighting and CCTV but this will continue to be an issue.
- Disruption to the cycle path during construction. Apparently this has been considered (!!) and there should be an alternative cycle track built during the construction phase. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one as plans progress.
- Getting on and off the Whitesands path – there will be access points at the Bank Street Crossing and at the Loreburne Centre crossings, although I imagine they will become quite congested with pedestrians. Getting on and off at other points will inevitably be less convenient than it is now.
- Conflict with pedestrians. While this may actually be reduced, as pedestrians will have the walkway at the top of the bank, I imagine that lots of people will still want to be at the river level and hence wandering along what will now be a dedicated cycle track (this will be encouraged by the provision of benches and dedicated view points at the lower level).
- What happens when it floods? Putting the cycle track on the river side of the bank does suggest bikes are rather low in the pecking order.
In short, while it’s good that cyclists are being considered, the plan to keep the cycleway where it is seems to be problematic. It’s early days yet, but it seems to us that a better solution would be to put the main cycleway on the road side of the bank, or perhaps to put the bikes on the walkway on top of the bank. That leaves the riverside for those who want to stroll and enjoy the view, without having to dodge people on bikes who are in a hurry to get somewhere. But what are your thoughts?