Closing Lake District road to cyclists “unacceptable”, says Cycling UK
Cycling UK has submitted a formal objection to Cumberland Council’s plans to permanently close a section of the road along the western shore of Thirlmere near Keswick to all traffic, including cyclists and walkers.
The council has received more than 1,500 objections about the proposals, which would permanently sever part of National Cycle Network route 6 between Keswick and Ambleside. The consultation closes on 22 September.
The road has been temporarily closed for 18 months due to concerns about falling rocks after strong storms. In that time, no mitigating measures have been put in place to prevent rock falls and make the road safe, such as netting or fencing (which are already used on the A591 on the opposite side of the lake).
The A591 on the eastern shore is the only alternative route, which puts people cycling and walking at risk. The proposed closure would remove a key safe route without delivering any form of practical, safe alternative route for vulnerable road users.
Cycling UK’s head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore explains: “The council wants to avoid the risk of injury from falling rocks, but they haven’t balanced that against the risk this closure creates for people cycling and walking by forcing them to use a very busy A-road. We can’t see the justification for the extreme measure of a permanent closure, and it seems premature when the council says they are still investigating the options.
“This might seem like a local issue, but it has a wider impact. It’s part of the National Cycle Network, and within a National Park which is supposed to promote enjoyment of the area by the public.”
Temporary closures usually have a maximum time limit of 18 months, with some exceptions. A freedom of information request to the council revealed that they still do not have any predicted date for repair and reopening of the route, and a recent letter to local residents states that “further assessments are scheduled to gather more information relating to the condition of the hazardous area”.
Cycling UK’s submission concludes that “the decision to close this route is unacceptable … The authority should instead redouble its efforts to secure the reopening of this important route”.
It recommends that rather than go ahead with a permanent closure, the council should apply for a limited extension of the temporary closure while they work with the landowner United Utilities to make the road safe for public use.
The charity has prepared a shorter suggested response which members of the public may wish to use to respond to the consultation.