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Fears shared cycle path in Heavitree Pleasure Ground will be 'disaster'

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: December 27, 2012

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DOG owners have been angered by plans to put a cycle path through a city park.

They claim it will lead to conflict and accuse Devon County Council of not consulting properly about the scheme.

But the council says the city council carried out a consultation in June before the county council further consulted in November.

Some £120,000 is to be spent upgrading the path in Heavitree Pleasure Ground and making it shared use for pedestrians and cyclists.

It will run from the Hanover Road entrance and follow the current northern path to emerge by the tennis courts at Whipton Lane.

Ian Johnson who walks his dog in the park says making the path suitable for cyclists is unnecessary and points out that there is a by-law preventing cycling in the park.

Mr Johnson said: "There has not been a proper consultation about this and it is riding roughshod over local opinion.

"It is a recipe for disaster.

"They are giving so much precedence to cyclists and if this goes ahead we will have to keep dogs on the lead all the time when they should have a run off the lead for at least 20 minutes a day."

Mr Johnson added: "Although there is a bylaw preventing cycling in the park a lot of these cyclists go around as though they own the place and go through too fast.

"Heavitree is a little oasis but this is going to create conflict."

With regard to the bylaw, a spokesman for the city council, said: "The city council's bylaws for parks and open spaces were last reviewed in 1990.

"In the intervening time the way people use their parks and playing fields has changed considerably, and it makes sense for the bylaws for all the parks to reflect this. Final approval has to come from the Local Government and Communities section of the government to achieve this."

A spokeswoman for the county council said: "The paths within Heavitree Pleasure Ground are currently in a poor condition and in need of renewal.

"Widening two of the existing peripheral paths to create a shared footpath and cycleway will link the area to the Exeter Cycle Network and provide safer routes to Heavitree Road and local schools and continue to encourage people to travel sustainably and reduce congestion in the city."

She added: "Widening the paths and creating a smoother surface will also benefit wheelchair users and families with push chairs."

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  • Stuboy13  |  December 28 2012, 5:16PM

    @czarchasm - All too often "shared" pathways mean adults, kids and dogs wandering all over the cycle-side of the path completely unaware of what they are doing, only to be surprised when cyclists pass very close to them or they are startled by the sound of a bicycle bell. It works both ways, I ride along the Exe everyday and over Flowerpot playing fields and the amount of people strolling along on the cycle path, not to mention dogs darting around everywhere is alarming.

    |   11
  • Jungle_Jim  |  December 28 2012, 3:43PM

    czarchasm Funny, I didn't think they were letting cars use the park.

    |   7
  • hobbs  |  December 28 2012, 12:20PM

    its a shame the echo didn't report a more balanced view from locals. I am sure there are as many families of young people who have had their trip to the pleasure ground ruined by irresponsible dog owners, whether it is being knocked over by excited animals, or having to avoid significant amounts of dog mess that litters the park. That said, I recognise most dog owners in the park are lovely responsible people. The consultation ran by the city council was well conducted, the one by DCC was also ok. They both happened at times to suit all regular park users. the pleasure ground is 21 acres big - plenty of room for everyone, including a wider path, and I for one am pleased that the paths are being made bigger.

    |   8
  • czarchasm  |  December 28 2012, 10:01AM

    All too often "shared" paths simply mean that pedestrians have to get out of the way of God's own creatures who ignore any white lines just the same as they ignore all other rules of the highway code, common sense, and politeness.

    |   -5
  • Stuboy13  |  December 28 2012, 9:22AM

    Have to agree with you Mikexe - Can't see what all the fuss is about; The paths require some much needed repair anyway so widening them at the same time and seperating them with a white line seems like a no-brainer.

    |   9
  • Mikexe  |  December 27 2012, 10:27PM

    I can't see what the problem is to be honest. The paths are currently in desperate need of repair, and what's the harm in widening them at the same time? Cyclists use these paths anyway, surely by adding extra width everyone who uses them has a bit more breathing space, as well as a designated side of the path they should be using. These improvements would surely benefit everyone involved, and if anything they should help to avoid collisions.

    |   10

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