What’s wrong with this picture?

I think somebody at Sustrans got a bit carried away with the B&Q catalogue. If you don’t fancy the diversionary routes around the side, you could just open the gates — and leave them open. Which rather makes one wonder: what’s it all for?

It’s NCN55 on the old Shropshire Union Railway at the edge of Stafford. If ever you want to discover what a lovely town Stafford is, follow the NCN55 from the station. It ends at Telford, at which point any town will look lovely in comparison.

I mainly go to Stafford because I’m a miser who prefers to take the £3.95 train tickets and ride an extra 20 miles, than to pay £88.00 for trains on lines that are more convenient for the places I want to go…

8 thoughts on “What’s wrong with this picture?”

  1. I guess you took the picture so you have been there and know different, but my guess would be the gate to the right, intended for service/maintenance vehicles, is supposed to be locked. The tall narrow gate to the right is for horse riders and has some form of vertical extension to the latch so it can be opened from the saddle. The middle bit is supposed to let an ordinary bike (or a pedestrian) through, but is too narrow for a motorbike or scooter. The limbo-dance bit is to push your wheelchair or pushchair/pram through – mind your head!

    The bit to the far left just tells us that no-one is really arsed to protect this path for its intended users. Judging by the grass growth, evidently service vehicles are a rare sight, and no-one comes here with a pushchair or wheelchair – unless they, like the cyclists and no doubt bikers, just go round the edge.

    Only firm conclusion you can reach is that the galvanised steel assembly must have cost several grand to buy and instal. What a waste of money – some of it no doubt mine, as a Sustrans donor!

  2. Sustrans clearly put it there to stun people into slowing down as they try to work out prescisely what it’s for. It worked with you didn’t it? You even had to take a photo! Top marks Sustrans :-)

  3. That’s amazing. We’ve got something similar on the Thames path just south of Oxford (route 5). It’s not a multiple gate situation but one where people ignore the gate. For some reason, they installed a kissing gate that was so tight you have to flip your front wheel up to get the bike vertical in order for it to pass through.
    That means that if you’re:
    – a tandem rider
    – a cargo bike rider
    – laden with panniers
    – have a pram
    The gate prevents you getting through.

    The fence line next to it is continuously pulled down so people can get passed. Then it’s reerected. Then it’s pulled down. It’s been down for almost a year this time, so I guess the path monitors have realised It Was A Stupid Gate.

  4. No, silly! This is part of the Shropshire Line – a series of fortifications and obstacles designed to level the playingfield in the war on the motorist (sic.). Thanks to these defences, motorists can sleep safe in their beds in the knowledge that the yoghurt-knitting hoards of cyclists are being held at bay.

    You’ll note that in common with the similarly effective Maginot Line the people it was designed to deter seem to have simply gone around the obstacle.

    Yes indeed – a triumph of modern military engineering, and a tribute to the ingenuity of our nation’s planners. It quite brings a lump to my throat.

  5. Know those gates too well.
    So iritating. This is also one of a series along this route and while most have been opened, this one meant turning around and the trip being spoiled.

  6. Hi Joe,

    Thank you for your blogs on the subject of cycling and cycling infrastructure. It is true to say that Sustrans does come in for a fair bit of criticism and from time to time things do need to be improved and routes and infrastructure do need to be a lot better and in some cases the make do and mend is just not good enough.

    However, in relation to the Stafford to Newport Greenway (Part of the National Cycle Network Route 55) and the barriers highlighted in this blog this is not the work of Sustrans. The landowners of the Stafford to Newport Greenway within Staffordshire is Staffordshire County Council and not Sustrans. Therefore the local administration installed these barriers to protect not only cyclists, but also walkers and other users from the agricultural vehicles that cross this area. This area is due for change soon and there may be many changes in this area not to the liking of many of us local people.

    Sustrans works in partnership with the landowners of where the National Cycle Networks cross and therefore sadly take the brunt of much of the criticism unfairly. I personally have put thousands of volunteer hours in to maintaining the Stafford to Newport Greenway and as you may be able to appreciate over 13 miles is not a small task.

    I regard the Stafford to Newport Greenway as a living friend of mine and even before I became a volunteer ranger I took and active part in the maintenance of the route and infrastructure. Apart from taking part in light maintenance I also campaign for changes and regularly petition the landowners for the larger work to be completed. May I invite you to come out for a while with me to see exactly what I and other volunteer rangers do and also may be how you can help us all to get this right or at least head in the right direction?

    Thank you for receiving my comment and please continue to campaign on behalf of cyclists it is appreciated.

    Kind Regards, A Local Volunteer Ranger.

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