PATH: Showing respect would reduce risk

I write in response to Dr Bill Hutton’s letter about cyclists posing a risk to pedestrians (News Guardian, February 11).

I am a regular motorist, cyclist and pedestrian. I take my responsibilities towards other road and path users very seriously. So I take issue with Dr Hutton’s apparent sweeping assertions that all cyclists pose a risk to pedestrians on the Eve Black Walkway.

First, I do not condone dangerous behaviour by cyclists, whether that be barging past pedestrians, running red lights or failing to make themselves visible.

However, cyclists can be sued for causing damage and injury and they are advised to take out third party liability insurance should there be a claim against them.

Those who fail to identify themselves in such circumstances are likely to be those who would do the same in a motoring incident or a street brawl.

Second, like other road and path users, pedestrians have a responsibility to be aware of their surroundings.

I have lost count of incidences when I have approached pedestrians who have been oblivious to my presence, despite ringing my bell and shouting ‘bike’. Moreover, groups of pedestrians are inclined to occupy the entire width of the path.

Dog walkers who do not keep their animals under control are a menace to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

There are incidences of cyclists being unseated by vast lengths of retractable dog leads, and being bitten by free roaming dogs whose owners’ feeble attempts to call them to heel have failed. I have narrowly avoided the latter on many occasions.

Third, the Eve Black Walkway is inappropriately named as it was funded principally as part of the government’s investment, via Sustrans, in the development of the National Cycle Network. It is part of National Cycle Route 1 between Tynemouth and Edinburgh. It is a dual use path.

As someone who regularly cycles between Seaton Sluice and Blyth, each time I have to make a judgement as to whether to use the walkway and run the gauntlet of oblivious pedestrians and uncontrolled dogs or risk death by riding on the A193 with a speed limit of 60mph where many motorists feel they must exceed that limit.

So let us all as motorists, cyclists and pedestrians be very aware of where we are and the hazards we may encounter and act with consideration and respect for other road and path users.

If everyone did so then there would be far fewer casualties and we wouldn’t have to put up with letters targeted at particular user groups.

Sue Bevan

Wallsend