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Councillors slam "ludicrous" and "cockamamie" idea of cycling path next to elderly people's club and children's park

The council leader said that he “couldn’t think of anything worse”, but one councillor accused members of being “anti-cycling” and called the decision disappointing

Councillors in Torridge have voted against the proposal of a bike path next to a children's park and an elderly people's club, labelling the idea as "absolutely ludicrous" and leading to claims that those in support were "being really precious about this nanny state", however one councillor said that the council was being "anti-cycling".

The cycle lane route in Bideford was proposed by the community engagement officer Adrian Avery, which would see an existing path in Victoria Park designated as being "dedicated" for cycling. It would also connect the Bideford Quay along River Torridge in the south and the Westward Ho! beach and reduce congestion.

At the council's Community and Resources meeting earlier this week, Avery said that a cycle route through the park would not only improve health and wellbeing, but would also be suitable for young people to learn and develop their skills without mixing with vehicles.

However, the Torridge District Council, with a majority of Independent candidates, shot down the idea after some raised fears that cyclists and children "don't mix well".

> Councillor urges police to charge "tourist cyclists" coming on cruise liners and "running around unsafe”

Independent Councillor Chris Leather claimed that it was one of the most "cockamamie ideas" he had seen from the council in a long time. He said: "I couldn’t believe it when I read this report. Why create a problem when one doesn’t exist?

"The path would go past the bowling club where they are lots of elderly people and straight past the paddling pool where there are children and people picnicking. It’s absolutely ludicrous when there is direct route which cyclists already use and will probably continue to whether we put this here or not."

Bideford proposed cycle lane route (Torridge District Council)

Proposed cycle lane route through Victoria Park in Bideford (Torridge District Council)

Conservative Councillor Jane Whittaker said it was a great idea, however she did'nt agree with its location. She said: “What happens on the Tarka Trail is that sometimes cyclists don’t consider anyone else so it really does bother me the path being next to the paddling pool.”

Meanwhile, Council leader Ken James announced that he couldn’t think of anything worse, adding that in his ward, there was a problem of cyclists riding past the school "hell for leather".

He said: "I was in the park the other day and four children had to step out the way for a cyclist. Is that how it’s going to be, priority for cyclists? I can’t support this."

> "If it was important for motorised traffic it would have been done": Cyclist slams council's plan to permanently close quiet route and send everyone along busy main road

However, there was one councillor who supported the proposal. Councillor Lyndon Piper from the Lib Dem party, lead member for leisure and a cyclist, said: "As a society we really do need to think about travel. Cars are causing us all sorts of problems so to say there is a situation without any problems is a bit blinded.

"We need to think about getting safe travel routes in our area. There is a bit of hyperbole in our society about cyclists at the moment. Some of the comments about cyclists being near children in the park, it’s as if we are talking about bringing machine guns in the park."

Victoria Park, Bideford (Twitter/Torridge District Council)

Victoria Park, Bideford (Twitter/Torridge District Council)

He said people went on autopilot sometimes and just got in their cars when they could cycle and find out just how good it could be for their health and for their pocket and it was often quicker. He said he found it relaxing going off road where you had to consider people not cars.

Piper added: "People here seem quite anti this project which I find disappointing."

> “It’s too dangerous to cycle on the roads”: Conservative councillor’s call for cycling infrastructure in new housing developments branded “pathetic” by fellow party members

Independent Councillor Anna Dart said that members were 'overthinking it' and being 'really precious about this nanny state we are living in where people can’t think for themselves or hear for themselves'.

She said: "I don’t see too much of a problem with this. I find it bizarre that we are talking about it. It’s a life-skill, looking after yourself. We have all got to learn it. Whether you are old or young, you take your life into your hands when you walk out the door."

When it was suggested that the proposal went out to public consultation about the exact route, Cllr Dart urged members not to waste the council’s limited resources on it.

In the end, members voted against the plan by five votes to four with one abstention.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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24 comments

Avatar
HLaB | 10 months ago
0 likes

When the councillor say there is already a "direct" route, does he mean the indirect Blue line ?

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to HLaB | 10 months ago
0 likes

No - the blue line isn't part of these proposals; it's a long term ambition to build an entirely new path (the current proposal is just about designating the current paths). Unhelpfully this isn't explained at all in the article above, but I found out by watching the youtube video of the meeting. 

The "direct route" mentioned is through the carpark to the right of the park on the map. 

Avatar
neilmck | 10 months ago
2 likes

Rubbish idea. You can see the cycle path route was designed by a non-cyclist who thinks cyclists want to take long, pointless detours. They would do better modifying the short coastal path (that the cyclists probably already take) and add a cycle path to it. Then the cyclists can safely go from A to B in a straight line instead of a random all over the place.

Avatar
Eton Rifle | 10 months ago
3 likes

"Independent Councillor" = right-wing nutter too barking mad even for the current Tory party.

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Marin92 replied to Eton Rifle | 10 months ago
1 like

Should join Labour then.

Avatar
mattw | 10 months ago
4 likes

The Bansturbating Bigots of Bideford.

Isn't it down that way that Town Councils hold conspiracy meetings about 5G telephony?

Avatar
OnYerBike | 10 months ago
7 likes

Glad there were one or two sensible voices around the table; disappointed they were outnumbered and outvoted by the bigots.

The other thing no-one has mentioned yet - what about people cycling to the park? Here are some scenes from Cambridge:

https://maps.app.goo.gl/xGUFSfk4YJHQbefC6

https://maps.app.goo.gl/XRkUegoEFDBYsDD8A

https://maps.app.goo.gl/5iUye3NzKMi5SFGE6

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to OnYerBike | 10 months ago
6 likes

OnYerBike wrote:

Glad there were one or two sensible voices around the table; disappointed they were outnumbered and outvoted by the bigots.

The other thing no-one has mentioned yet - what about people cycling to the park? Here are some scenes from Cambridge:

https://maps.app.goo.gl/xGUFSfk4YJHQbefC6

https://maps.app.goo.gl/XRkUegoEFDBYsDD8A

https://maps.app.goo.gl/wpBAjHHA1p9sFebXA 

My word! It's like a scene from Mad Max!

Avatar
hutchdaddy | 10 months ago
6 likes

For "independent councillors" read conservative, with a small c and even smaller minds.

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to hutchdaddy | 10 months ago
5 likes

hutchdaddy wrote:

For "independent councillors" read conservative, with a small c and even smaller minds.

Mostly: see Cllr Dart's comments.

We have a number of independents on the council where I live, and most are as you describe, but worse.  One repeatedly asks questions that no-one understands, and another, during the question part of the meeting, makes long, involved statements that aren't a question.  I have to admire the equanimity of the chair in dealing with both of them.

Avatar
brooksby | 10 months ago
5 likes

Am I reading this right?

So the councillors opposed to a cycle route because it would lead to elderly people and children being run over by scorchers, think that the people who do want to put a cycle route there are "being really precious about this nanny state"...?

Are they sure that they understand what "nanny state" usually means?

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
8 likes

I think the reporting is slightly muddled. The "nanny state" comments were from Cllr Dart who was in favour of the proposals, and was saying the concerns about children/old people were overblown. 

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brooksby replied to OnYerBike | 10 months ago
1 like

Oh, OK: that makes more sense yes

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mattw | 10 months ago
0 likes

The 5-4 vote is interesting.

The Council has 36 members.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torridge_District

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OnYerBike replied to mattw | 10 months ago
5 likes

I think this would be a specific committee, rather than the full council.

Avatar
eburtthebike | 10 months ago
7 likes

Independent Councillor Chris Leather claimed that it was one of the most "cockamamie ideas" he had seen from the council in a long time. He said: "I couldn’t believe it when I read this report. Why create a problem when one doesn’t exist?

And immediately creates a problem, from a sensible, modest, safe scheme.  There are many shared use paths in parks, with very low levels of conflict, but somehow it not only won't work in Torridge, it's "cockamamie".  There's something cockamamie in Torridge, but it isn't this scheme.

Good stuff from the Lib-Dem and independent Cllr Dart though.

Avatar
belugabob | 10 months ago
16 likes

Wait until they hear about the roads that pass by schools and retirement homes...

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Surreyrider replied to belugabob | 10 months ago
8 likes

And the vehicles going "hell for leather" along them.

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hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
15 likes

Quote:

Council leader Ken James announced that he couldn’t think of anything worse

Really? How about the climate becoming increasingly unpredictable, leading to crop failures, displacement of a third of humanity and widespread famines and fighting?

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
9 likes

The levels of anti-cycling opinion and rhetoric are literally incredible, if a supposedly responsible council leader can make such grossly exaggerated and plainly untrue statements.

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HoarseMann | 10 months ago
9 likes

Too late! Google maps already has every path in Victoria Park marked as a cycle route...

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Clem Fandango | 10 months ago
6 likes

Children & old bowlers don't cycle. Well known fact. 

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chrisonabike replied to Clem Fandango | 10 months ago
3 likes

Well they don't cycle in the UK!  Wouldn't want to be the spokesman for creating problems where they don't exist!

We don't have cycling here... and there aren't any many problems.

Besides, they already have an amazing cycle network, er ... route.  Bypassing the town...

Avatar
GMBasix replied to Clem Fandango | 10 months ago
10 likes

Clem Fandango wrote:

...old bowlers...

Please don't start a helmet debate

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