In view of the recent incident of a cyclist knocking down and killing a pedestrian on the streets of London, I think it appropriate to consider the risk of a similar accident happening between walkers and mountain bikers on our public footpaths.
The likelihood of this is increased in this case by both walkers and cyclists using the same pathways. There have been a number of occasions where I have come face-to-face with a cyclist on a sudden bend in a narrow woodland path, and it has been made clear that the biker, assuming priority, expects the walker to move out of the way – and fast!
I’m not sure if the bikers are actually unaware, or if they choose to ignore the fact that cyclists are not permitted to use public footpaths at all. This is a national code of practice or byelaw where yellow public footpath signs are present. If this is explained to them, it can often provoke an aggressive response. They are allowed to use bridleways, which display blue signs, but seem to prefer not to do so.
Our public footpaths have long been well used by walkers, but since the arrival of bikes, there has been a marked deterioration of their condition. When walking it’s necessary to look down at the path at all times.
The popular and health benefitting sport of mountain niking is here to stay, and Calderdale Council’s current enthusiasm to build tourism centred around cycling generally suggests that many more road and off-road cyclists will be coming to this area to holiday.
There must be provision for them, and so the council would surely benefit from some input and volunteer work from the Cyclists’ Hub in creating some specialist facilities, unavailable for use by walkers or horse riders.