Shared path upgrade plan in Fife town spark fears of ‘reckless cycling’

Upgrades to a St Andrews walking and cycle path have been green-lit despite fears that they may encourage reckless riding.

Lade Braes Walk, within the Hepburn Gardens conservation area, will benefit from wider and resurfaced paths, cut-back hedges, bench seating and low-level lighting.

Planners recommended approval of the proposals - brought forward by Fife Council itself - but councillors on the north east planning committee are worried that replacing chicanes of metal fencing with wooden bollards would encourage high-speed cycling.

The authority says the metal fencing is being removed to make the path more accessible to those using wheelchairs and pushchairs.

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Shared path plans were approved despite some concerns
Shared path plans were approved despite some concerns

Cupar Conservative councillor Tony Miklinski told the meeting: "The design of this has got to be a material issue as it will encourage cyclists to go faster.

"It will put parents with buggies and children ambling around at risk.

"Everyone will have experienced the dangers implicated with sharing between pedestrians and cyclists, and we recognise that chicanes have been built to accommodate this in the past."

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Tony Miklinski

Both St Andrews Community Council and the St Andrews Preservation Trust objected for similar reasons, as did 29 members of the public.

And while Fife Council has included "Share With Care" signs in the proposals, objectors say walkers and wheelchair users should be prioritised over pedal-pushers.

Cllr Miklinski lodged a motion, backed by SNP St Andrews councillor Ann Verner, to approve the plans, but with an extra condition requiring Fife Council to find "effective measures to lower the speed of cyclists...to protect pedestrian safety."

Verner added: "I know the purpose of this is to make it more accessible for everyone - as someone who has definitely pushed a buggy along this path I know it's very difficult.

"However, I share Cllr Miklinski's concerns about the removal of the barriers."

The Conservative's proposal won out by seven votes to four against an amendment from committee convener Donald Lothian to approve the plans in their existing form.

The Lade Braes Walk is not part of the National Cycle Network, and council bosses stress that they encourage cyclists to use other roads if they are cycling into St Andrews for a purpose beyond leisure.

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