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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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Ovingham: Cyclists put pedestrians’ safety at risk

CYCLISTS are refusing to walk their bikes across the pedestrian bridge over the Tyne at Ovingham.

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Edna Carr is concerned about the number of cyclists refusing to dismount when they cross the pedestrian bridge.

They are insisting on riding across the narrow walkway, using it while the neighbouring road bridge is closed for repairs. despite signs telling them to dismount.

Prudhoe resident and caretaker of Ovingham First School, Edna Carr, walks the bridge up to eight times a day.

Having seen for herself numerous incidences of cyclists riding across the footbridge Edna (57) has also heard countless accounts of similar occurrences from other bridge users.

She said: “There have been a lot of knock-on effects of closing the bridge, and at the moment a lot of people are getting quite irate with the cyclists.

“Some dismount but the majority don’t and if you’re walking side by side with someone there just isn’t room for someone to cycle past. An accident could easily happen because they come up so silently, and a lot of them don’t give any warning when and with the wind and the noise of the water you just can’t hear them.

“My daughter and I were walking back to Prudhoe one day and a cyclist came up behind me. I told them that cyclists are supposed to dismount but he just kept on going.

“I wanted to say something, but you can get a bit of abuse back sometimes.”

Recounting stand-offs between pedestrians and cyclists, Edna says that tension is mounting between the bridge users and it is only a matter of time before it erupts into conflict.

She said: “There is a bit of a war going on between the cyclists and the pedestrians over who has right of way.

“The cyclists seem to be of the opinion that they will ride over the bridge come hell or high water, they just won’t get off for anybody.

“But after all, it is a pedestrian footbridge and if I saw a cyclist coming who was pushing their bike I would move aside to let them pass straight away.”

Earlier in the month it was reported that horse riders and motorcyclists were also using the pedestrian crossing rather than take the 12 mile detour via the Styford roundabout.

A sign prohibiting motorcycles, horse riders and ordering cyclists to dismount was erected and Northumbria Police warned that they would take action against those using the footbridge inappropriately.

Neighbourhood sergeant, Mick Stephenson said: “We want to urge cyclists and other road users to be considerate to help ensure pedestrian areas remain safe for the pedestrians who are using them, we will be offering advice to cyclists in the area to ensure this continues.”

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