Barriers on walking and cycling routes, and parks, are cruel

IMAGE: A chicane barrier restricting access to the Grangegorman campus in Dublin.

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: A recurring question that’s asked is: What kind of gate allows bicycles while blocking motorbikes, like scramblers?

Unfortunately there is no barrier which can stop scramblers and allow bicycles used by people with disabilities, larger wheelchairs and mobility devices, parents carrying children on bicycles or larger prams, and people carrying panniers or large loads on bicycles.

It is cruel to block access to walking and cycle routes, greenways, and parks. Excluding people who have mobility issues or those trying to make the right choice in using a mode of transport which has less of an impact or just those trying to go for enjoyable cycle off-road.

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What ever problem you might think the barriers solve, blocking legitimate users is a cruel solution.

The myth that there is an elusive barrier design out there that will fix all the issues is added cruelty, one which just prolongs getting to the conclusion that barriers need to be removed. The only scalable and accessible solution is bollards with 1.5 metre gaps between the bollards or any wall. Ideally 2 metres of a gap.

A UK group which helps people with disabilities get on bicycles, Wheels for Wellbeing, has just launched the latest edition of their ‘A Guide to Inclusive Cycling’ — you can read it here.

It should not be seen as acceptable to block legitimate users as a means to deal with a criminal issue. And Barriers often do not stop scramblers and cause other issues — one kissing gate on the Grand Canal Greenway was used to assault people and attempt to rob their bicycles.

Chicane barriers also are not able to block motorcycles and provide access to legitimate users. Where there is space for larger bicycles to get between the chicane barriers, with longer bicycles it can be hard or impossible to maneuver to the right angle or rough ground or other problems. Chicane barriers are also often problematic at junctions, still cause pinch points that provide for anti-social behavior, and should be seen for what they are — a result of a system which does not take walking and cycling seriously.

There needs to be a mindset change at national level, among TDs and officials, and at a local authority level, among both staff and councillors. The removal of barriers is just one of many reasons why you should ask your TD and councillors to sign up to CyclingForAll.ie.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

5 Comments

  1. unfortunatly cian while i agree with you i would be lynched by every person on the north of the city who has been terrorised by drug dealers and other anti social elements who use bikes and scramblers to evade gardai the kissing gates installed do deter them a bit and also add protection to pedestrians trying to avoid been run over by them . until posh southside judges start locking up dealers kissing gates will remain on the north of the city although a newer style gate is working in ballymun which allows buggies whelchairs and handbikes through easily but not scramblers bikes and scramblers

  2. @Martin — thank you again for once again confirming that you mainly use disability concerts to argue against safe cycling infrastructure.

    To anybody reading: That might sound harsh, but Martin has been playing this game for some time.

  3. @Martin – This is a ridiculous comment and it shows that you haven’t thought about what you are saying at all. Part of the reason that they use scramblers is because they have no intention of using the official entrance to these routes. The gates don’t deter anyone who knows their way around route and has a scrambler so please stop wasting peoples time and deceiving them. The gates mostly deter people who cannot fit through with a bicycle or wheelchair.

    So what makes some of these routes safer than other? One of the biggest factors is the volume of people who use the facility and to increase the numbers you need to have good access. Busy sections of busy routes remain remarkably free of scramblers. If you think about where you have seen scramblers in the past, its usually on quiet sections that already have gates. Opening access and increasing football is not only the best way to reduce such a problem, it is also the only one that works.

  4. In case you think I’m a posh judge Martin, I am going to add that I am from NI where we’ve spent 40 years building more walls, fences and gates than any other city in these islands. We have wasted millions, destroyed our towns, and made zero progress in terms of providing safety. Do not repeat our mistake, its extremely important to copy the successful examples, not the failed ones.

  5. https://www.reddit.com/r/CargoBike/comments/krl4ni/a_short_film_about_bike_barriers_watch_till_the/

    Really nice clip that should be shown on the barriers. Make sure to wait for the last scene.

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