CYCLING: Poor maintenance spoils the route

The council publishes the North Tyneside Cycle Map, number two in the Go Smarter series, one of six that covers an area from Ashington to Seaham.

The maps are excellent, designed in partnership with Sustrans to promote “a network of routes ... linking homes to employment, shops, education, recreation and medical facilities”.

On Sunday afternoon, on a leisurely return ride from home to Cramlington, I used the ‘shared cyclist/pedestrian’ path alongside the B1322 (Backworth Lane).

Alarm bells rang when I saw the path’s condition. I didn’t expect it to be strewn with old clippings from the adjacent hawthorn hedge. However, it was too late. But I continued as it is a much safer way than the sinuous road here where cars tend to go too fast.

The next day my bike had a flat rear tyre, the first in over five years. The culprit was a centimetre-long, thin, sharp thorn. It cost £12 to repair.

Why does the council encourage cyclists, and no doubt dog walkers, both vulnerable to sharp objects, onto its ‘facilities’ when it appears to condone improper maintenance?

Surely it is a straightforward job to sweep up the obvious hazards of a thorny hedge. Is this another small example of the council’s image of working for the people being punctured?

There is no excuse, the clippings are several months old.

The free Go Smarter maps are excellent, and a very useful aid in the increasingly difficult job cyclists have to negotiate a safe way through North Tyneside. So why spoil things?

I am a passive cyclist, happy to enjoy the benefits and freedom of cycling. I can encounter many problems every time I use my bicycle, but sloppy council maintenance is annoying and avoidable.

Hopefully this path will be swept soon, and regularly.

Lawrence Heslop