Volunteer group Cycle Chippenham have completed the latest phase of their accessibility project by removing seven chicane barriers from cycleways in Chippenham.

The project to make the town’s cycleways more accessible to cyclists and those with mobility issues has been led by Cycle Chippenham and delivered through Wiltshire Council’s Chippenham Local Highways and Footways Improvement Group.

Cycle Chippenham have received funding from Wiltshire Council and Chippenham Town Council, as well as a £5,000 grant from Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy Ltd., a not-for-profit solar energy enterprise.

The barriers have now been replaced with high-visibility bollards which will make the cycleways more accessible to all types of cycle and mobility scooters.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Left to right: Rob Elkins (Treasurer), Laurence Cable (Vice Chair) and Nick Murry (Chair) Cycle Chippenham. (Image: Cycle Chippenham).Left to right: Rob Elkins (Treasurer), Laurence Cable (Vice Chair) and Nick Murry (Chair) Cycle Chippenham. (Image: Cycle Chippenham). (Image: Cycle Chippenham)

Councillor Dr Nick Murry, Chair of Cycle Chippenham, said that the removal of the barriers was an important improvement to the accessibility of the routes.

“As well as putting investment into new infrastructure, we need to make the existing off-road cycleways the best they can be, by removing barriers, adding access points, improving signage and widening narrow sections”, he said.

“These chicane-removals represent an important part of this work”.

The Department for Transport’s 2020 Cycle Infrastructure Design guidance says that chicane barriers should not be used as they reduce the usability of routes.

It reads: “Chicane barriers cannot be used by people on tandems, tricycles, cargo bikes and people with child trailers.

“They may also be inaccessible to some types of wheelchair and mobility scooter. An access control that requires cyclists to dismount will exclude hand cyclists and others who cannot easily walk”.

As a result, some chicane barriers may be illegal under the Equality Act 2010.

However, moving forwards Cllr Murry wants to see more action from local government.

He added: “We want cycling to become people’s default means of travel for short journeys, wherever possible.

“We need a network of segregated traffic-free and quiet-road routes. These need to be accessible to all legitimate users, including the most vulnerable members of our community.

“Cycle Chippenham are working on several fronts to make this happen. It will however require Wiltshire Council to be much more ambitious in the bids it puts forward to Government for funding”.

Wiltshire Council did not receive any funding in the last Active Travel funding round, despite neighbouring councils Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire both securing over £10 million.

Cycle Chippenham’s Vice Chair, Laurence Cable, added that increasing cycling accessibility would have wide-ranging benefits.

He said: “It’s good for the wider community, thanks to fewer car journeys, better air quality, less congestion and improved overall public health.”