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From Scotland to Southwest England, calls for councils to grit cycle paths (+ videos)

Campaigners north of border call for action, videos show danger on Bristol & Bath Railway Path

Cycling and pedestrian campaigners in Scotland have criticised local authorities for not gritting cycle paths or clearing them of snow. Meanwhile in England, a series of videos have shown cyclists coming off their bikes in icy conditions on the Bristol & Bath Railway Path.

While many roads north of the border have been gritted following two weeks of severe weather warnings, there are concerns that similar treatment is not being given to footpaths or cycle paths, reports The Scotsman, although the newspaper adds that Edinburgh had taken action to clear snow.

Cycling Scotland’s chief executive, Keith Irving, said: “It is essential that maintenance programmes designate key cycling routes that link people to essential services and jobs as a high priority.”

Meanwhile John Lauder, Sustrans Scotland’s national director, urged Glasgow City Council to take action on cycle paths in the city.

He said: “The facilities in place for cycling are great, but they simply have not been properly cleared during this biting cold weather.

“If we want to get more people cycling their short, everyday journeys in Glasgow, it is essential they can do so safely.”

A spokeswoman for the council, speaking to the newspaper on Wednesday, said that “priority footways” would be treated that evening, with the council then working on “secondary footways,” including off-road cycle paths.

She said: “We are currently focusing on priority routes, which comprise of 53 per cent of the city’s network.

“Gritting staff have been out round the clock and we also have additional external resources deployed to help our teams with the continued treatment of pavements and ­footways.”

Stuart Hay from Living Streets Scotland, which campaigns for pedestrians, added: “We are concerned busy routes and key pedestrian areas don’t always get the same priority as roads when it comes to gritting.

“It’s important that pavements are ice-free, especially for older people who simply won’t venture out in cold weather if they don’t feel it is safe. Whilst volunteers might have a role to play, it is important key routes get the priority they deserve.”

The dangers of riding on icy roads were highlighted in three videos posted to YouTube yesterday that show  riders coming to grief on the slippery surface of the Bristol & Bath Railway Path on Wednesday.

With last night the coldest of the winter so far in England, Sustrans area manager Jon Usher this morning took to Twitter to advise users of the path: “Take care cycling this am. They'll be gritted on the future, but arrangements won't be in place yet.”

With the cold snap set to continue and snowfalls in some parts of the UK, make sure you read our tips on riding on ice and snow.

The videos were posted to the video-sharing site by user Cycle Pledge, who said: “This is a set of 3 clips that have been trimmed from one film I took with my cycle helmet cam. I always film my ride for protection.

“I edited the original 22 minute film into these 3 clips to illustrate what was happening due to the black ice. Hopefully this will help towards the council getting the path gritted.”

He added: “Many crashes out there today and a couple of ambulance incidents. The council needs to get the gritter out! This is a serious commuting route.”

However, the Bath Chronicle reports this morning that conditions on the path remain hazardous, with a number of cyclists crashing.


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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