Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council has announced on social media that it will begin securing an access road against motor traffic outside of the opening hours of Nuneaton’s Registry Office. At 5pm every night, a gate will be shut, closing off the road leading from the ring road. However, this access road also forms part of a safe off-road cycle route between the town centre and the Whitestone area of town – part of National Cycle Network Route 52.
Closing this barrier creates an obstruction to legitimate access by people on cycle and potentially to those using wheelchairs, mobility scooters etc. It is a particular hindrance to those who may find ‘bumping the curb’ or dismounting and pushing cycles past difficult. The nearest path which could potentially serve as a bypass is not designated as shared use and does not have easy, safe step-free access. Other nearby paths are not on the direct route and are also not designated shared use space.
This is not a new issue. I raised the problem with the Council back in January 2019 having found my own way blocked by the closed barrier. Since that time, instances of it being shut were far reduced and I assumed that the barrier was being left open for reasons of legitimate access. It now appears the problem is resurfacing and once again I find myself having to raise the problem with the Council.
In the over three years since raising the problem, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council has not taken steps to implement alternative options or improvements where it can achieve the objectives of securing the parking space out-of-hours but whilst maintaining legitimate cycle and wheeling access. This is an easy issue to solve – change the gate so that it closes across the road but leaving a 1.5m gap; replace the gate with a collapsible bollard in the middle of the road; or upgrade and widen the adjacent path to accommodate shared use with good step-free access from the road.
I have written to the Council today with the following email. If there is any further update, I will follow-up here.
I’ve seen your social media posts and the subsequent report from Coventry Live regarding the Council’s intention to secure the barrier on the access road to the Registry Office/Museum and Art Gallery at 5pm every night.
While I appreciate your desire to control motor vehicle access, the current restriction is excessive and causes an undue hindrance to legitimate users. The access road forms part of the safe off-road cycle route between Whitestone and the town centre and by closing the barrier without accessible and direct means to pass it, the closure forms an obstruction.
To achieve your objective of securing the space outside of opening hours, you will need a different solution – for example: an alternative gate that closes across most of the road but which leaves a gap of at least 1.5 metres allowing cycles to pass; a collapsible bollard in the centre of the road; a shared use bypass for pedestrians and cyclists to move around the sides of the obstruction.
It’s worth noting that I had raised this issue with the Council back at the start of 2019 after finding this gate shut on a number of occasions when I was using the route, so this is not a new issue. However, since that time I have found the instances of the gate being shut to be far fewer – I assumed that the barrier was then being left open for the reason of ensuring access to the cycle route. I now find it disappointing that in the three years since, despite being aware of the problem, the Council has not sought and installed an improved means of securing the access road whilst maintaining direct and accessible cycle access.
I would be grateful if you would kindly provide a copy of your Equality Impact Assessment evaluating the impact of this barrier against the Council’s obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and how the closure impacts legitimate cycle access, particularly for those who may not be able to ‘bump the curb’ or comfortably dismount and push a cycle past the obstruction. Then please also advise on what alternative solution the Council will employ to resolve the issue, along with the timeframe for implementing it.
I look forward to your reply. Please be aware that this message has been published and that the Council’s response will be publicly released (with names redacted).Email to Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council