Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

“Stairway to Hell” – temporary bridge on Nottingham canal path is impossible for cyclists to use (+ video)

Footage shows rider struggling to carry her Brompton up the steep stairs – but can’t get it down the 40-degree slope once at the top

A temporary bridge on a canal in Nottingham has been dubbed the “Stairway to Hell” with a video posted to YouTube showing how the structure is impossible for cyclists to use safely due to its steep slopes.

The footage shows a group of riders on Brompton bikes arriving at the bridge, which is constructed from scaffolding poles and wooden poles, with one woman struggling to get her bike to the top but then being unable to get it down the 40-degree slope on the other side.

With help from one of her fellow riders, she manages to get the bike down the shorter flight of stairs she had just battled up.

One solution for these riders at least might be to fold their bikes before carrying them over, although clearly that is not an option for owners of non-folding bikes, nor indeed for people with pushchairs or wheelchair users, among others.

The bridge, which road.cc reader Julian told us had “been in place for at least seven weeks” was put in place because a construction site adjacent to the canal had spilled over onto the towpath, which has a high wall.

It is located on the Nottingham & Beeston Canal – which together with a  section of the River Trent forms part of the Big Track cycle route – at the junction of The Great Northern Close and London Road, just to the east of the city’s railway station.

Julian told us that “Many people have contacted the council and the Canals & River Trust (CRT)” regarding the bridge, and that “the CRT (who signed it off) have stated in response to many complaints that the structure ‘passed safety standards’.

“I hear on the grapevine that the deathtrap construction is about to be closed off – a shoddy outcome, but at least will stop anyone getting seriously injured (if they haven't already been),” he added.

That now seems to have happened, with Julian telling us in an email today: “Although the whole thing is extremely shoddy – and especially that it's come to a complete closure (and loss of a well-used traffic free route in a heavily trafficked/bicycle designed-out area), at least no one will be seriously injured (as a result of the many defects of this scaffolding bodge-up).”

For the time being, towpath users will need to detour away from the canal on the section in question before returning to it later on.

We are contacting Nottingham City Council and the Canal & River Trust for their comments on the situation.

Simon joined road.cc 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.

Add new comment

17 comments

Avatar
hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
1 like
Quote:

One solution for these riders at least might be to fold their bikes before carrying them over, although clearly that is not an option for owners of non-folding bikes

All bikes can be folded, but some can also be unfolded

Avatar
brooksby replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
0 likes

I just noticed the date on this article - I was reading it, thinking, "I don't remember this" and then noticed its from 2021.

@road.cc - did you ever hear back from Nottingham City Council and the Canal & River Trust?  And is the Hellish Stairway still there?

Avatar
Nikonitis | 2 years ago
3 likes

I always thought the idea of a Brompton was that it could be carried. What do they weigh 10Kg? They are folding bikes after all. Going down should be straight forward enough, just hold on to the seat post and let gravity do the rest

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to Nikonitis | 2 years ago
6 likes
Nikonitis wrote:

I always thought the idea of a Brompton was that it could be carried. What do they weigh 10Kg? They are folding bikes after all. Going down should be straight forward enough, just hold on to the seat post and let gravity do the rest

Whereas you are not wrong, and we can always criticise technique (i'd push the bike up by the saddle post), the fact remains that this is a shit bit of temporary infrastructure, as a result of laziness and poor project management

Yes someone fit and strong might be able to use it, however, someone not fit and strong who relies on a bike to get about cannot. In addition those that are fit and strong will find this does increase risk of injury in use - or rather those that get injured will find that.

 

Avatar
Velo-drone | 2 years ago
6 likes

Those steps are terrible. In my experience of getting a Brompton up and down many steps in various places, the easiest way is to perch the saddle on your shoulder.

But yeah, the biggest problem there is for pushchairs and wheelchairs, neither of which would have any chance of navigating that shambles.

Avatar
the little onion | 2 years ago
12 likes

I'm not surprised Canal and Rivers Trust signed it off as acceptable. This is the organisation that collects money earmarked for cycling infrastructure, then spends it putting cobbled speedbumps and narrow A-frames on towpaths to restrict its use by cyclists....

 

They like cycling related grants, but hate cyclists.

Avatar
AlsoSomniloquism replied to the little onion | 2 years ago
1 like

I don't know, they supported and funded the "high speed cycling" extension of a footpath through a long tunnel the other year to the detriment of the canal boats. 
 Of course taking the boaters hatred of cycling out of it. The footpath in question was not even wide enough for two pedestirans to pass without one pressing against the wall so if a cyclist did come at the same time, the tunnel was blocked. And there was no "high speed" through the tunnel due to one mistake and the handlebars hitting the wall or the guard rail. And in all the times I used that tunnel, I never saw two boats in it at the same time. 
 

Avatar
jh2727 replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
0 likes
AlsoSomniloquism wrote:

And there was no "high speed" through the tunnel due to one mistake and the handlebars hitting the wall or the guard rail.

You have to bear in mind that a canal boat user has a completely different understanding of 'high speed'.  That tunnel is 100m long, which must be close to an hours journey, for a narrow boat.

Avatar
eburtthebike | 2 years ago
4 likes

Problem solved; all users required to wear a helmet.

Avatar
andystow | 2 years ago
14 likes

Meanwhile, local cyclocross racers are shouldering their bikes and asking if more of these could built, perhaps with a bit of mud on them.

Avatar
Hirsute | 2 years ago
6 likes

Poor technique - could have ridden down that !

I think I would have held it by the seat post.

I am amazed that 42 deg is allowed but how on earth did that setup get passed with insufficient handrails?

Avatar
mattw replied to Hirsute | 10 months ago
0 likes

Sounds like cheapest and damn the consequences.

42C is also the max slope allowed for your domestic staircase.

Avatar
AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
3 likes

That is awful. All they needed was a to use was runnels (or even guttering if they wanted to stay with the shoddy image) but they have made it unneccessarily worse with using walking boards with those struts.

But the angle is stupid for taking a bike down or up anyway and is bad enough just for pedestrians and whilst 42 degrees is the maxiumum permitted for public use, I'm pretty sure that with no guard rail on one side except if leaning over 12-16 inches of flat board, it definitely is not to safety standards.

If they also made it that wide for prams, then I would argue there should be a different safety standard for gradient as well if there isn't already one (couldnt see on any searches. 

 

Avatar
ktache replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
3 likes

They put some temporary steps up when replacement stairs were being built at the Deepcut bridge on the Basingstoke canal.  I only had to use the original steps twice, when they closed the path but before the temporary steps were built, I almost fell down them both times, they needed to get done.  The runnels were unfortunately put to close to the balusters (the uprught part of the handrail system, not the handrail which I believe is the balustrade) so making it unuseable, lots of clashing with the pedals.  Had to carry the bike up and down, but much better steps than the originals.  Proper luxery and nothing like the above.

The new steps, built on behalf of the developer of a local housing development, are incrdibly good.  The handrail is an engineering masterpeice.  It looks like the new runnel has been properly positioned, previous mistakes learned from, nice.  Haven't had to use them yet but everything looks great.

As I said, just look at that metalwork...

Avatar
ktache replied to ktache | 2 years ago
1 like

Hers is a picture of the temporary steps.

Avatar
Sriracha replied to ktache | 2 years ago
1 like

Not a bad effort. Might be better with the runnel on the other flank, so that at the 90 degree landing (going down) your bike does not arrive at the edge of the precipice.

Avatar
RoubaixCube | 2 years ago
3 likes

Peter Sagan would have bunny hopped it all the way down.

Latest Comments