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Disabled Cyclist Wins Barrier Battle



A disabled cyclist has won his campaign against a decision to install barriers on a section of the National Cycle Network Route.


Alastair Fulcher, who has Parkinson’s disease, uses a recumbent tricycle and challenged the decision to install the barriers because they were preventing him from accessing the cycle path.


The barriers, near Newcastle, will now be modified in consultation with Alastair and accessibility specialists.


Urban Green Newcastle installed the barriers last year at the East and West side of the cycle path at Pottery Bank (known as National Cycle Network Route 72 (NCN Route 72). A second barrier was installed despite a complaint by Alastair regarding the first.


Newcastle City Council and Urban Green Newcastle argued that the cycle path was attracting motorcycles, and the barriers were intended to deter them.


Alastair, aged 61, pointed out that this was indirect discrimination as it prevented him and other disabled cyclists who are reliant on using equipment such as recumbent tricycles, a two-metre cycle widely used by disabled people, from using the path.


Solicitors working on his behalf argued that Newcastle City Council and Urban Green Newcastle were in breach of the Equality Act, as well as the right to freedom of movement outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights.



In response the council has agreed to modify the barriers on the path to make it accessible.


"It's a fact that the UK's cycling infrastructure is awful compared to the continent,” said Alastair.


“Certainly, around Newcastle barriers such as this one are common. I have focused on this barrier because it is on NCN Route 72, the supposed premier route from sea to sea. I can't imagine what continental visitors think of this cycleway.


The decision was welcomed by the disabled people's cycling organisation Wheels for Wellbeing, an award-winning charity that support disabled people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the benefits of cycling.


“We hope that councils across the UK will begin to recognise that barriers which prevent legitimate users from accessing public spaces and public rights of way are unlawful, and that we’ll see more routes opened to Disabled people over the course of 2024.”


To find out more about Wheels for Wellbeing go to https://wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/

 

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