Disabled cyclist Alastair Fulcher is challenging Newcastle City Council over barriers on the National Cycle Route which bar his access to a cycle path.
Alastair, aged 61, of Wallsend, lives with Parkinson’s disease which affects his balance, core strength and ability to walk.
He can get about by using a recumbent tricycle, a two-metre cycle widely used by disabled people.
However, the cycle path at Pottery Bank, known as National Cycle Route 72 (NCR 72), has had two barriers installed at the East and West side which block Alastair’s way in and he has sent a legal letter to Newcastle City Council to challenge the lawfulness of the barriers.
"The fact is, as I have discovered, cycle paths are riddled with barriers such as these. It is just that this one is so important, being on an internationally recognised cycle path," explained Alastair, pictured above.
“The progression of my Parkinson's disease had made riding a solo bicycle unwise; it was eventually going to end in casualty with a broken collarbone or worse. This is why I purchased the recumbent tricycle. It has allowed me to continue to be active and it greatly mitigates my Parkinson's symptoms."
Represented by human rights solicitor Ryan Bradshaw of Leigh Day, Alastair claims the installation of the barriers puts Newcastle City Council in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Human Rights Act 1998, the Equality Act 2010 and planning guidance of local authorities.
"We are finding time-and-again that disabled people are denied access to spaces that other people can access,” said a spokesperson for the disabled people's cycling organisation Wheels for Wellbeing.
“So many physical barriers have been put in which are far more effective at preventing legitimate users from using paths and open spaces than they are at preventing the problems that are the pretext for the barriers.
"Barriers on cycle routes are preventing disabled people from making local journeys using all sorts of mobility aids, and restricting access to exercise, recreation and natural spaces, which are all so important for physical and mental health.
“If there really are problems with abuse of paths, it is a policing matter. Authorities need to make it easier to report problems to the police, not discriminate against disabled people with inaccessible barriers."