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Burton Greenway Closed Due to Anti-Social Behaviour

Published: 11th May 2020 09:32

UPDATE - 19.5.2020 - Greenway to reopen this week. See new article here.

Original article follows:

Burton Marsh Greenway, also known as Sustrans Route 568, is a pathway linking England and Wales, crossing land owned by the RSPB.

Burton Greenway path

Opened in July 2013, it offers walkers and cyclists a picturesque, but also efficient, link between Neston and Deeside.

In recent weeks, since the COVID-19 lockdown, increasing numbers of users have been flouting distancing rules on the route, making it difficult for walkers and cyclists to happily co-exist there.

Members of RSPB staff, trying to monitor and offer guidance to users, have been subject to abuse, whilst groups gathering on the path have had to be moved on by police.

As a result, access gates to the path on RSPB land have been padlocked shut.  Signs posted on the gates read: "Due to the high incidence of anti-social and abusive behaviour RSPB staff have experienced when asking users to adhere to current Coronavirus guidance and existing bye-laws, this permissive access path is now shut until further notice."

Councillor Louise Gittins, member for Little Neston and Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: "I've asked for a teleconference this morning between myself, Cheshire West and Chester officers, the RSPB, police and Flintshire Council to find a sustainable solution.

"It's disappointing that a minority of people have been ignoring social distancing rules.

"If this is the new norm, we all need to find a way of dealing with shared space and everyone needs to play their part in beating the virus.

"People need to continue to be vigilant about social distancing and hand washing after touching shared surfaces. If infections start to rise we risk going back into complete lockdown."

A spokesperson for the RSPB said: "Sadly, due to a high number of anti-social behaviour incidents over the recent weeks, the permissive Burton Marsh path that leads to Burton Point has been closed to the public until further notice.

"This weekend, our staff dealt with high numbers of trespassers onto the RSPB reserve, were verbally abused and threatened by members of the public and had to call on stretched police forces for support in managing this section of path.

"Therefore, with support from the local police, we have taken the decision to close this privately owned path to protect our staff, the community, breeding wildlife, livestock and reduce pressure on our emergency services.

"We appreciate that this is disappointing to those who use this path and cycle way peacefully but this decision was made to protect the safety and wellbeing of our staff, local community, livestock and wildlife."

 

 

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Comments

Annie57
At 10:05 on 11th May 2020, Annie57 commented:
The minority have caused this to happen. Residents have been complaining all through this that some people weren’t respecting or adhering to what was asked of us. Not intentionally offending our Councillor, she says we risk going back into complete lockdown. If we had been put into complete lockdown as in other Countries, we wouldn’t have these problems. Could it be open for a short time in the morning and evening to allow people who travel that route to work, but have evidence from their employer that they are working. If Police could spare time during this to check they are workers not people using it for leisure.
HLTA
At 10:58 on 11th May 2020, HLTA commented:
Hi Good Morning just to say that I was walking our dog down that way yesterday morning (Sunday) only to see that the cyclists are still ignoring the signage and lifting their bikes over the top of the gate and then cycling up station road so they won't get spotted! These are the people that can be held accountable if this virus continues.
Snapdragon
At 12:35 on 11th May 2020, Snapdragon commented:
Again we have cyclists mentioned as not behaving properly!! When is CWAC going to do something positive about the conflicts. A lot use the Wirral Way as a speed test and ignore distance rules. Wirral Council have installed signs on their parts of the pathway highlighting the increased use (by all who exercise) and have, in large letters said " Cyclusts single file and slow, please". Come on CWAC, follow this good example.
CO Jones
At 15:51 on 11th May 2020, CO Jones commented:
I have to pull up some of the comments above as it does not single out cyclists at all in the article as being the key protagonists.

It does specifically mention "whilst groups gathering on the path have had to be moved on by police". That sounds to me like they are more likely to be pedestrians.

My wife mentioned that a few weekends ago, a family had got out of their car on the lane by the gate to the marsh and set up the picnic rug on the floor to settle down for a few hours completely ignoring the guidance. My wife was cycling and observing the guidance.

I have had a chat with a few people with dogs off lead on the marsh over the last few weeks about it not being a great idea allowing their dog (s) to run free and sniff the scents and chase the birds (frequently Spaniels). It is ground nesting bird time between now and into July. some have been really engaging and thanked me for the advice. Others have pretty much said “mind your effin business”. I was walking my own dog at the time and on the lead.

it also does state in the article "It's disappointing that a minority of people have been ignoring social distancing rules. “if this is the new norm, we all need to find a way of dealing with shared space and everyone needs to play their part in beating the virus." That applies to walker, runners, dog walkers and yes, cyclists.

A little bit of recognition that people can be ignorant, arrogant or just plain mean whether on foot or on wheels will give the debate some balance.
undefined
At 16:12 on 11th May 2020, undefined commented:
We walk there and ok the cyclists can be a pain sometimes, but we have never seen any RSPB person there at all, only when you go to Burton where the RSPB bird site is, so who was this person who was had a go at anyone?
CO Jones
At 16:23 on 11th May 2020, CO Jones commented:
The RSPB wardens are out and about all along the coast on an occasional basis. I think a lot of them may be volunteers perhaps? I have chatted with them at various spots between Deeside and Parkgate over the years.

We witnessed one of them nearly getting physically attacked at the bottom of Marshlands Road a few years ago as he had gone over to chat with a chap in one of those pick up type vehicles which seem popular with those of a certain persuasion as it looked like he was set up to hunt. Gun dogs, camouflage clothing etc. The person with the dogs was so out of order. I offered to give evidence if it came to some sort of Police matter.

All of these behaviours detailed in the article and the comments are not on and we are all feeling this now aren't we? there is tension in the air given the latest non-guidance and the irresponsible gutter press stoking the fire towards the end of last week.
Ratty
At 17:45 on 11th May 2020, Ratty commented:
I am in my 70's and self-isolating, nevertheless I enjoy cycling but I had to stop using this cycleway because of other cyclists passing too close in both directions seemingly unaware that they are producing a slipstream of moisture particles that they have breathed out.
Don't they understand that It is these same tiny droplets that spread Coronovirus and that is the reason for the TWO METRE SOCIAL DISTANCING. It has got so bad that I don't even walk along there now.
Steph
At 20:46 on 11th May 2020, Steph commented:
Inevitable given the stupid behaviour of a minority of people who simply don’t want to follow the rules of the land.....
south wirral cyclist
At 11:56 on 12th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
Before lockdown I used to cycle this route and onwards to Chester every week. I stopped as soon as social distancing came in as it seems to me that it is virtually impossible to keep 2m apart along this path, particularly on a bike where you can't cycle on the grass verges. The situation is even worse along the canal towpath approaching Chester. Currently I therefore only cycle on the roads, which are of course almost devoid of vehicles. I do have sympathy though for cyclists who commute along this path as the road alternatives between Burton and Deeside are much longer and involve several hills.
Dave Carter
At 12:05 on 12th May 2020, Dave Carter commented:
You can push your bike on the grass verges. And you only have to do it when someone is coming the other way.
Snapdragon
At 12:13 on 12th May 2020, Snapdragon commented:
Dave. You are right but have you ever seen a cyclist do that? It would be brilliant if they did but the desire is to not stop at any cost and to stay on the path.
merrymac
At 12:46 on 12th May 2020, merrymac commented:
This article has only been up 27 hours and after reading both it and ensuing comments, I feel sadness for a lot of local people, with their moans and gripes. The lockdown is hard for us all but I doubt if any of the anti-social people abusing RSPB volunteers and not social distancing ever read your comments. Can we just be kind to each other instead of moaning about other walkers, dog owners or cyclists.

We are in one or more of those groups, are we not?

I read and contribute to CH64AMA as it is the best local news source we have, but if it becomes just a moaning Forum, then I'll leave you to it.

south wirral cyclist
At 12:55 on 12th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
Dave, Well yes a cyclist could dismount and then walk passed on the grass verge, but it's not very practical! Cyclists pass pedestrians going in both directions (walking speed 3mph, cycling speed 15-20mph). It takes 7-8 minutes to cycle this path and having to dismount and walk passed every pedestrian would obviously increase this greatly. It is a shared pedestrian/cyclist path, which is part of the national cycle network and is therefore, for most cyclists, only a small part of a much longer route.

At present, like any busy confined space, where social distancing is more difficult, the simple solution is to avoid it if you can.
CO Jones
At 13:37 on 12th May 2020, CO Jones commented:
I hear you Merrymac and understand. I wasn't really moaning but did want to highlight a few other issues and put some perspective forward as it was apparent that cyclists were probably going to get another thrashing in the comments section.

Don't feel sad for me whatever you do. My wife and I were just discussing yesterday what a revelation some aspects of the lockdown have been. We have spent most weekends watching gigs from our favourite bands (performing from their houses), watching amazing DJ sets, attending virtual festivals, taking part in quizzes, making our own "Fakeaway" chippy tea on a Friday which have become increasingly ambitious and enjoyable, and loads of other fun activities I would not have thought were possible. The thing that has made the activities possible is the spirit of the people and the goodwill (and the internet). We are even planning a festival in the back garden for Glastonbury weekend. The bell tent will be up, the cider will be warm and the music joyous. I still ain’t sure yet whether I can bring myself to dig a long drop toilet in the back garden. The creativity has been fantastic and all this whilst we have continued to contribute as key workers.

There is a lot of good out there. Lots of it. The comments sections by their nature are (in any situation anywhere in the world) probably 70% moaning. That Is just people. Humans aren't happy unless they are complaining. It was how we benchmarked morale in the armed forces. Complaining was good it was a sign of engagement. Quiet soldiers are a concern.

This is tomorrows (virtual) chip wrappers
south wirral cyclist
At 16:37 on 12th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
Snapdragon. In terms of COVID 19 surely the faster (as well as far away) a cyclist passes a pedestrian the better, as it minimises the risk of breathing in the same air. However, I agree that cyclists passing at excessive speed without warning would be a more general concern. I do slow down if there is a risk that a pedestrian (particularly a child or a dog) is unaware of my presence and is likely to move into my path. I believe my overall speed of 15-20mph to be perfectly safe, as I've never collided with a pedestrian in over 50 years of cycling several times a week. Most cyclists are also very aware that they are just as likely, if not more likely, to be injured in any collision and so are risk averse.

It is a 'shared path' and therefore cyclists and pedestrians need to look out for each other. As a cyclist I'm perfectly happy to share it with pedestrians and hope that this is reciprocated. Indeed I'm sometimes a pedestrian on this path myself.
Sniper
At 22:38 on 13th May 2020, Sniper commented:
Sorry if I missed it in the article, but did this incident actually involve a cyclist? Ideally, I’d like to know if the offender was someone Young/Old, on a bike, or on foot with/without dog or kids.

I’d just like to be certain which group or issue i am moaning about. I’d hate to miss out.
Carrie Spacey
At 22:47 on 13th May 2020, Carrie Spacey responded:
We asked the RSPB for clarification and you can see their response in the article. It has not been spelled out regarding which type of user/s of the path precipitated the closure.
undefined
At 11:04 on 15th May 2020, undefined commented:
Anti social behaviour is a police issue and closing a popular path is a disproportionate response by the RSPB.

This path was funded by sustrans and local councils NOT the RSPB.

Why are the RSPB even policing social distancing?

How are people going to cycle commute to the industrial park now? The Welsh road /A494 has seen the deaths and injuries many cyclists over the years.

I have been using this path for 40 years so it's a long established right of way and the RSPB are behaving in an anti social manner themselves by closing this popular and safe route to cyclists, walkers, wheelchair users and dog walkers.
south wirral cyclist
At 13:17 on 15th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
My understanding is that this isn't a right of way, but a permissive route although I've been unable to find confirmation of this. RSPB gave permission for the construction of the path and it's use across their land. You are right to point out the reason that it was funded was to provide a safe alternative to the A roads, which of course are a busy main access route to Wales with little cycle infrastructure. Sustrans do give an alternative 10 mile safer diversion https://www.sustrans.org.uk/find-a-route-on-the-national-cycle-network/burton-marsh-greenway/ if you are prepared to add 20 miles (1-2 hours) to your daily commute! Sustrans also say the route will only be closed for a few days, but that maybe optimistic as it needs agreement between the councils, Sustrans and RSPB.
I agree that closing the path because social distancing wasn't being observed seems an over-reaction. As this path is 3m wide at least social distancing is possible, whereas it is completely impossible on many narrower paths (e.g. towpaths) which are open. From the article though perhaps the gathering of large groups and wider trespassing on to RSPB land were the real reasons for closure. I just hope this is resolved before there is a cyclist hit on the alternative A roads.
CO Jones
At 13:30 on 15th May 2020, CO Jones commented:
Thanks SWC. This is what i was alluding to earlier on but appear to be have been"moaning". As you go through the gates by the sheep farm, the patch of land there seems to have been adopted by picnickers. There were a few there yesterday who had climbed over the gates as the cyclists were also doing, which was probably inevitable.

There is also widespread ignoring of the RSPB signs put up on the marsh to try and protect the ground nesting birds.

I think the RSPB staff (and volunteers who are serving for nothing for the good and benefit of nature) just gave up and took the easiest option.

Anyway, i will stop moaning :-)

Here's to some resolution soon hopefully.
south wirral cyclist
At 18:30 on 15th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
CO Jones - Fortunately I don't have to commute to Deeside, but if I did have to cycle to the steel works, Toyota or Airbus each day I'd probably be tempted to climb over the gate rather than battle with 44 tonne trucks on the A roads. No doubt the HGV drivers aren't that pleased to find loads of extra cyclists they have to find a way past either!
My wife is a RSPB member and frequent visitor to the marsh, so I fully understand why it's necessary to stick to the path and keep dogs on a lead, particularly in the nesting period.
Let's hope for an early resolution.
Scott Morein
At 20:04 on 15th May 2020, Scott Morein commented:
It is a permissive route.

Since the section of route has been closed I have been staggered by the reduction in use of the route along the Wirral Way, through Parkgate and Little Neston to Marshlands Road. The impression prior to the closure was an almost constant stream of cyclists, and although not counted, the persistent flow could easily be estimated at 500 – 1000 journeys each way every day. I feel for the cyclists who have temporarily lost their facility, although noting there is no real opportunity for adequate social distancing when passing pedestrians, or passing each other in opposite directions, I am satisfied that whatever the motivation for the permitted closure, this is thousands of fewer opportunities to spread coronavirus. Noting the confusion about the amendments to the rules in England, the conflict they presently have with rules in Wales, and the overall need to maintain social distancing, perhaps the leisure / sporting cyclists can be satisfied it is temporary, and for the greater good. As to the commuters – I have no idea as to the numbers, but the impression is cycle users are in the main leisure / sporting parties in numbers from one to a dozen or more.

These times will pass (hopefully) and maybe it will not be too long before we can all return to our usual routines, but for now, as we all have to, accept a few restrictions and stay safe.
Sniper
At 07:40 on 16th May 2020, Sniper commented:
Sorry Scott, but I have to disagree

Other than at the gates, Ralph’s Way is be at least 3m wide at the narrowest point. It’s essentially a road for the most part (I used to drive my car along sections of it). You appear to be confusing the section of public Footpath between the Harp and Burton Point. I have to agree that this is narrow in places, not helped by the failure of the council to adequately maintain the path and cut back the foliage. If you are really as concerned about health then WRITE TO THE COUNCIL. I’ve been avoiding it on my bike for this reason. I would suggest we do this, or close that section also as, by your rationale NO ONE is safe due to the Path made narrow By several years of neglect. Close it to all?

It is really sad that vulnerable groups Such as cyclists and walkers are pitched against each other due to what is fundamentally a lack of adequate safe provision for us compared to cars.

One padlock on Ralph’s way has affected thousands of cyclists, Young and old, Condemning many of us to the very real dangers of the A540 In order to reach work, the safer lanes of north wales, or the miles and miles of safe bike paths beyond.

Your survey of cyclist numbers (impressive aren’t they? How did you count them all?) might also be aware of the following:

100 cyclists died on our roads each year
3500 walkers/cyclists are killed by drivers of cars each year
26500 walkers/cyclists are seriously injured in our roads teach year
1 pedestrian per year is killed in collision with a cyclists (usually because they stepped into a road, not whilst on the pavement)
2% of short journeys in uk are by bike compared to 20% in many other parts of Europe. Facilities in the uk are poor and we’ve just shut one of the best ones!

I’ve put the above data in here as I suspect many of the ‘anti cycling’ stuff on here isnt Covid driven, it is simply from folks who don’t like cyclists.

I still haven’t seen anything linking cyclists to the closer of Ralph’s Way yet but you’ve been quick to condemn us all, and you throw in the Wirral Way and the footpath to/from The Harp too boot. If you don’t like cyclists, just say so. My 8 year old daughter is denied a lovely spot to ride her bike - she loves cycling along Ralph’s Way - it is actually the only decent cycle path for miles around - everything else is gravel tracks and tangling with dog walkers (she doesn’t like dogs). But hey ho, send us all onto the dangerous roads eh? It’s only cyclists.

Sniper
At 11:35 on 16th May 2020, Sniper commented:
Update : I passed 17 cyclists riding through Puddington towards the A540 this morning. The a540 is an accident black spot and I know two cyclists have been killed in the section between Puddington Lane and Two Mills - it’s that dangerous.. The number of cyclists on this lane was much higher than usual, thanks to the closure of Ralph’s Way.

Incidentally, Just One car passed me....coming the other way: A two ton Grey Land Rover discovery driven at speed with the driver giving me the middle finger - I think he was upset about all of the cyclists getting in his way on his road (quite what I had to do with his anger, I don’t know...I assume he was frustrated that My presence forced him to stay on his side of the road) but it’s another case of “those bloody cyclists”). Do I now think all drivers are idiots and we should ban them from that road ? No, not all of them.

So, when it comes to Ralph’s Way and Covid transmission, let’s get things in perspective; stop punishing us collectively for the actions of a small number of idiots who may not have even been cycling. We are keeping cars off the road, are generally a fit and courteous lot who represent a very low burden on the NHS. Closure of Ralph’s way creates unintended significant consequences. If you don’t ride a bike (maybe you should follow government guidance and give it a go) then you are utterly unaware of the dangerous roads that we are now forced back onto.
CO Jones
At 12:12 on 16th May 2020, CO Jones commented:
I am now an occasional cyclist but cycled to Seland for work purposes across the marsh from 2014 - 2017. It's an absolute god send as there is no way I would have gone via Shotwick Dip.

The sooner it is reopened the better for all user's.

If we talking about banning stuff, can I have retractable dog leads added to room 101 please? Now they are a nuisance. Another lazy invention to file with wheeled luggage :-)
south wirral cyclist
At 12:45 on 16th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
Sniper - https://www.cyclestreets.net/collisions/ and https://www.crashmap.co.uk/Search provides cycle accident locations and details and indeed that stretch of the A540 is a black spot, particularly when you consider that there would have been far fewer cyclists using it since Ralph's Way was opened. It is certainly worrying to know that 100's of cyclists are now on that road. A surprise to me was that the A550 is relatively safe in comparison. Possibly because on this narrower road it's more difficult to pass a cyclist and a queue behind a cyclist does actually protect him! Yes unfortunately there are going to be a lot of frustrated drivers now along this route. 15-20mph is regarded as too fast by the pedestrains, but much too slow by the drivers. Can't win!
south wirral cyclist
At 14:55 on 16th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
Scott - Cyclists coming from the far side of the A540 along the Wirral way are probably now diverting on to cycle routes 56 and 563 https://www.sustrans.org.uk/national-cycle-network/ to reach Deeside and Wales. I hope this is the case rather than these 500-1000 cyclists all diverting on to the dangerous A540.

You are right that it is impossible to socially distance on most confined footpaths, not just locally but across the whole UK. I wouldn't be in favour of closing them all though! The 2m rule is a simple rule for people to follow, but of course in reality keeping 2m distance only reduces the probability of catching covid rather than eliminating it. It seems likely that passing someone on a footpath at say 1m distance, which takes a fraction of a second, is far less risky than talking to someone in a supermarket at 2m distance for 5 minutes and certainly less risky than a journey on public transport. Like all things in life some people are willing to take more risks than others and so some will regard such footpaths as safe and others won't. Personally I'm avoiding them as I'm lucky in having an alternative in the relatively traffic free lanes. It's different though for those who need to get to Deeside for work. The risk of catching covid on Ralph's Way would seem to be much less than the risk of an accident on the A540 route, but each individual should be permitted to make their own decision dependent on age, health condition and experience of cycling on busy roads.
Scott Morein
At 15:20 on 16th May 2020, Scott Morein commented:
Dear Sniper and South Wirral Cyclist,

I fear there has been a misunderstanding. As stated, I am wholly supportive of cyclists having a safe facility to enjoy their sport / exercise and the statistics regarding injury and death on the main roads are tragic.

My point was the unintended consequence of closing the RSPB link has greatly reduced the opportunity for the virus to be spread, because in many sections of the route it is not realistic to maintain safe social distancing between any user, be they on wheels or foot, although it is easier for pedestrians to ‘sidestep’ each other. On the same point, a user cannot ‘helicopter’ over the narrow sections and only make use of the broad sections.

It is not for us to calculate the coefficients of risk, however if a user who does wish to take the risk infects a person who did not want to take the risk – where is the line?

I live overlooking the route, and in ‘normal’ times, it IS a constant flow of users, mainly cyclists, but we are not in normal times, and as to statistics regarding injury and death, it would be facile of me to refer to the thousands being hospitalised each day, and the hundreds dying each day as a result of the spread of the virus. If it means a few weeks or months of inconvenience / frustration whilst the route is inaccessible, is this really such a big price to pay?

Stay safe.
south wirral cyclist
At 19:04 on 16th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
Scott - I agree as regards leisure cyclists like myself. The path closure is just a minor inconvenience and there are plenty of other routes and destinations available. Many of your 500-1000 cyclists have probably been displaced to other parts of the cycling network with similar social distancing problems e.g. route 56 has several long narrow shared use sections and route 70 connects Ellesmere Port and Chester via the narrow canal towpath, so I doubt this has really changed the potential for infection. The cycle network does utilise a lot of offroad paths which in normal times makes them safer.

My main concerns are for those that commute by bike to Deeside. They can't change their destination and are faced with a more dangerous route and longer travel times. It is far more than a minor inconvenience for them. Maybe they are only a few, but it's probably a lot more as there are many thousands employed in Deeside. As CO Jones has commuted along this route albeit in 2017, he probably has some idea of the number of commuters.
Anthony A
At 19:49 on 16th May 2020, Anthony A commented:
Scott, where are the 'many sections of the route' where it's impossible to socially distance ? I can't think of one. As Sniper says, the bit by Nets is more problematic and it makes sense to avoid it at present.
Anthony A
At 20:14 on 16th May 2020, Anthony A commented:
I'm happy to play by the rules but I'd question whether there is any evidence that closing the route eliminates thousands of opportunities to pass on coronavirus as has been suggested here (but I accept this probably wasn't the main reason the route was closed).
I've yet to see any evidence from the government's secretive and unaccountable SAGE group concerning outdoor transmission rates even though the government is allegedly'following the science'. However, growing evidence elsewhere indicates that outdoor transmission rates are extremely low for a variety of reasons. As I say, I'm happy to play by the rules, not least to avoid worrying other people, but let's keep the risks in proportion.
waleskun
At 23:28 on 16th May 2020, waleskun commented:
So I came across the gate locked up from the Wirral side last week. There was no explanation or sign and I thought it might just be some Nimbyism so hopped over and continued on my way. Incidently I couldn't continue past the Industrial estate as a bus had hit a rider on the path further up so had to go via the dual carriageway anyway. I then came from the Chester side the other day and it was blocked from that side also. 3 gates chained up. I again hopped over each one to continue my journey. It isn't really a hard decision. The risks of being forced onto alternate routes are more dangerous to me than the virus. I was also in a rush and would not have made my destination re-routing so some warning further back would be nice.

A few points.

If any abuse has occured it is a police matter and the individuals involved should be dealt with. Closing the whole path is an overreaction.

It isn't the RSPBs job to enforce lockdown measures and somebody probably made this point in a rather colourful way.

When exactly can we expect the path to re-open? at a time when active travel should be encouraged the RSPB are making it really difficult. The reason most people won't venture out on a bike is they are afraid of mixing with traffic.

The cyclist dismount sign under the bridge is advisory. I followed a car through that bridge a few weeks back. Is that allowed?

Any suggestion that blocking the path will prevent the spread I believe is wrong. A lot of these people will still be out elsewhere. the 2 metre distancing doesn't have any scientific basis anyway. its an arbitrary figure that seems reasonable for preventing the spread. that is all. I will where ever possible respect the distancing but a lot of areas simply aren't built with this in mind. I'm ok with that risk. What I won't respect though is an ill-thought through closure by the RSPB



Dave Carter
At 00:10 on 17th May 2020, Dave Carter commented:
That's pretty irresponsible. It is a permissive path over RSPB land and RSPB are entitled to close it, temporarily or permanently. It's not for others to decide that the closure does not apply to them. And as for respecting social distancing "where possible", it should be respected at all times. Anybody who fails to respect it with me will get very short shrift, whether they are on foot, a bicycle, a unicycle, anything. It is not the risk to you that it is important, it is the risk to others, and others may well not be "OK with that risk".

Keep 2 metres or keep away.
Dave Carter
At 00:20 on 17th May 2020, Dave Carter commented:
2 metres is to some extent arbitrary, but there is plenty of research on the spread, indoors and outdoors. 2 metres is safer than 1, but not as safe as 3. There are models of the distribution of virus particles, which I will try to look up and post links to tomorrow. 2 metres is the guideline here, given that it should be adhered to.
CO Jones
At 09:33 on 17th May 2020, CO Jones commented:
Waleskun, Well done in making the points that many in the Neston area are uncomfortable with.

The arrogance of some of the transient leisure cyclists.
waleskun
At 09:34 on 17th May 2020, waleskun commented:
As pointed out Dave, Many places aren't built for 2 metre spacing. Look at all the talk of schools re-opening. You going to give short shrift to teachers who have no choice but to be near children? Ironically on this path it is actually possible.

Its irresponsidle for the RSPB to try and police anything. Its beyond their remit. If they had a charity shop would they close it if a staff member suffered abuse? Of course not. The individuals involved would be dealt with.
undefined
At 11:05 on 17th May 2020, undefined commented:
As ive been reading the comments i noticed that the main point has been lost, the idiots who done the antisocial behaviour have got away with it and everyone else is being punished for it ,as i donate to the rspb charity along with a lot of friends we feel aggrieved by their disproportionate action and have decided to donate to a charity that that has a bit more common sense, and i don't care about other comments as we are all entitled to a opinion.
Dave Carter
At 11:38 on 17th May 2020, Dave Carter commented:
The RSPB own the land. Why is this so difficult to understand. It is private land, you can do on it what the landowners say you can do.

And if schools cannot maintain adequate social distancing for children, then hopefully the unions will make sure that those schools do not open.
Dave Carter
At 11:42 on 17th May 2020, Dave Carter commented:
I am not that familiar with this stretch, but on the Wirral way social distancing is possible, provided that everyone keeps to the side of the path, which may mean that cyclists have to stop and move to the grass verge. On those stretches, that's what they should do.
waleskun
At 12:11 on 17th May 2020, waleskun commented:
Dave,other than the gates this stretch does actually does allow the distancing required. Possibly you should go and have a look so you have some practical understanding. Private land or not this isn't something someone coming across this would know. if you thought it was a right of way and the alternative was dealing with lorries, tractors and speeding cars around Two Mills crossroads what would you do?

I actually do know an alternative route that takes in only a small section of the Chester High Road that I'd be happy to post a route of. However, just putting a route closed sign up and giving no alternative directions around isn't good enough. You wouldn't accept that on the roads in a car

You can say well 'bloddy cyclists being arrogant, ignoring this and that doing what they want when they want'. I just want to get to my destination safely and in a timely manner. Probably me and many others. If you don't get that then there is nothing more to discuss
CO Jones
At 12:21 on 17th May 2020, CO Jones commented:
Waleskun; You may want to re-read your first contribution to this article.

It does read pretty much like "i am fine with the risk, i am happy to take the chance" but is there not a significant amount of this whole debate around the risk you are presenting to others?

Does the distance you say you are quite happy to compromise not strike you as relevant to others and something many people are really concerned about?

I am not trying to start a scrap here of score petty points but it does read as if if was typed with quite an air of arrogance. As someone who is pro cycling i feel you have just made exactly the point the anti cycling residents in CH64 (of which there are many) have been making for the last 2 months.
undefined
At 12:47 on 17th May 2020, undefined commented:
I have created a Facebook group to campaign for the reopenning of this popular path - please join if you wish to help by writing, emailing etc:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1175703596113663/
waleskun
At 12:55 on 17th May 2020, waleskun commented:
I don't consider myself arrogant.not sure people who know would say that either. But thats a moot point either way. Its a discussion so you may as well be frank on your position.

If you read my comment you would understand I made a choice that riding on roads which are now very busy again versus hoping a gate is not really a choice I thought much about. Analyse why it is uncomfortable to use the Chester High Road. How much risk are we expected to analyse outside of our own? What risk am I preseting to others?

The thing with anti-cycling sentiment is almost any point can be picked apart very easily as long as people are objective in their thinking (which they rarely are). The silver lining of this whole mess is seeing families outside smiling and exercising. If people allow their bias to skew that in to a negative then something is deeply wrong.

The distancing aspect comes down to personal choice within the guidelines in my view. A lot of people seem perfectly fine to be within two metres in supermarkets. I have actually avoided supermarkets where possible because of this. I deem the risk there is high so I don't go there. If you put yourself somewhere where you know distancing will be very hard to acheive and this concerns you why are you there? Just like I can legally ride a bike on a road like the Chester High Road (Essentially a motorway in some spots), should I? Well now there is no choice thanks to the RSPB
south wirral cyclist
At 15:15 on 17th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
Dave - The RSPB does have the final say on their land, but an agreement must have been reached before the councils and sustrans funded the path construction. I assume this would mean RSPB agreed to close the path only in exceptional circumstances and OK these are exceptional times.

In terms of social distancing (and indeed other qualities) the RSPB path must be one of the best on the national cycle network, hence it's popularity. If social distancing is the criterion for closure then most other paths locally and nationally should also be closed to both cyclists and pedestrians. It seems that the police were called to something more serious though.

There has been plenty of research on the effect of distance on infection probability with distance, but unfortunately there is very little consensus on what is a 'safe distance'. Simple rules are easier to apply so most countries have recommended 1.5m to 2m, which is a balance between risk and practicality. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/4/24/21233226/coronavirus-runners-cyclists-airborne-infectious-dose suggests that, at the same distance, you are 18 times less likely to become infected outside as inside. The duration of time you are in proximity is also a factor and whether one or both parties are inhaling/exhaling at the time. I think it's important to take these things into account. If a cyclist or walker is unhappy about the adherance to this rule and the overall risk on a particular path then the simple solution is not to go there, as most have alternatives.
Dave Carter
At 16:05 on 17th May 2020, Dave Carter commented:
Sorry, if I am unhappy with the adherence to the rules, and they are government guidance, then I don't see why I, as the person abiding by the rules, should have to go somewhere else. I will call out the perpetrators, loudly but initially politely, and tell them that if they cannot keep 2 metres away they should leave the area. And whether they are a walker, runner or cyclist makes no difference.
south wirral cyclist
At 19:18 on 17th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
Dave,

I agree that everyone should follow government guidance on social distancing

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home

'1. Keep your distance from people outside your household
Whilst recognising this will not always be possible, it is important to be aware that the risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus, and the amount of time you spend in close contact with them. Therefore, you are unlikely to be infected if you walk past another person in the street.
Public Health England recommends trying to keep two metres away from people as a precaution. However, this is not a rule and the science is complex. The key thing is to not be too close to people for more than a short period of time, as much as you can.'

As stated 2m is not a rule, but a recommendation. On the RSPB path which is 3m wide it's not too difficult to follow this recommendation and yes, if others are flouting this, I agree a polite reminder of the recommendation would be in order. There are however many footpaths, where following the recommendation isn't practical or is impossible. In these cases the guidance recommends minimising the time in closer proximity than 2m. It is inevitable then that some individuals will maximise distance at the expense of not minimising time and others will minimise time whilst not maximising distance. It also follows logically, those that are moving more slowly (walkers) are more likely to follow the former strategy, than those moving more quickly (cyclists).

As I stated in my first comment (some miles further up this thread), as I'm in an age group with a 1 in 6 chance of hospitalisation should I catch the virus, I'm avoiding all cyclepaths, because I consider the risk of infection too high. I view them like public transport. Only use paths if you have no alternative and I have plenty of alternatives.

I'm not suggesting you should go elsewhere, but rather pointing out that you do have that choice. Personally I wouldn't want to use any of the narrower paths at present on foot or bike, even if I was certain everyone would follow the guidance.
Scott Morein
At 11:02 on 18th May 2020, Scott Morein commented:
To Anthony A – an example; the approach, under and exit the little bridge on Church Lane – how does one pass another with 2 metre space?

A few sections of the route are 3m wide, however one cannot ‘helicopter’ in between the narrower sections and wider sections, and notwithstanding, even if 3m wide some arithmetic for you – a person is roughly 0.5 m wide, and unless they share a profile with a piece of paper and prepared to walk sideways on the very edge of the path, the 2m rule is hard to observe. Some comments here verge on being obtuse and ignore the simple guidance to be considerate to others – if you wish to take a risk then fine, but why impose your reckless endangerment upon others?
waleskun
At 12:01 on 18th May 2020, waleskun commented:
Scott. What you can 'obtuse' is guidlines colliding with practical application. If you approach that bridge knowing 2 metre spacing isn't possible you have a choice
Dave Carter
At 12:31 on 18th May 2020, Dave Carter commented:
And that choice is to stop and wait, and proceed when it is clear.
Anthony A
At 12:54 on 18th May 2020, Anthony A commented:
Thank you Scott but the section referred to in your post was the closed RSPB route and I was disputing that there were 'many' parts of it where distancing was impossible.
waleskun
At 13:34 on 18th May 2020, waleskun commented:
Maybe Dave, We should set up some temporary traffic lights like you would see when a road goes under a narrow bridge? Does that sound likely? Have you actually been out much? I have, for reasons within the lockdown guidlines. You don't have to venture out for too long to see the 2 metre spacing is difficult in practise to adhere to 100% of the time. The only reason I'm used the route at all is I need to go somewhere for work. Back to the point of the thread, the RSPB are putting me and many others at increased risk with this closure. The irony is that the sort who engaged in the behaviour that caused the closure aren't the type who will let a locked gate stop them. People who wouldn't dream of going onto the marshes or abusing others are the people who suffer
Ratty
At 14:01 on 18th May 2020, Ratty commented:
Well said "waleskun" The people who were abusive to the RSPB staff are definitely NOT going to let a locked gate stop them which makes the closure of the path not only a massive inconvenience but in fact TOTALLY POINTLESS. It would be so good if everyone on this page wrote to the RSPB to tell them that. I certainly intend to.
BHFL
At 17:36 on 18th May 2020, BHFL commented:
Isn't the main reason this path was closed was that people were trespassing and disturbing nesting birds and were abusive when asked to move on by the RSPB? If you didn't know that all the area was owned by the RSPB you might well wander onto the marsh or the inviting sandstone cliffs for a picnic thinking it was common land. I cannot recall any signage pointing out that the RSBP own the area. Maybe they could put up some signs when they reopen. Now they have made their point they should reopen.
south wirral cyclist
At 18:31 on 18th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
BHFL - I didn't recall any signage either, even though I've used the route hundreds of times. I cycled past the Burton end today though and had a look. There is a large sign behind the fence between the 2 pedestrian gates. You can see the bottom of it in the photo at the top of this thread. Probably few people read it because they are busy negotiating the gates! The notice bears the RSPB logo and does clearly state that it is a permissive route and that users should stay on the path. Possibly the sign isn't in the best place to ensure it's seen. It might be better closer to the MoD flag pole which is difficult to miss!
undefined
At 19:06 on 18th May 2020, undefined commented:
Currently commuting each day and need access through this route. I work in Deeside hospital and travel from the Wirral, it takes roughly 1.5 hours as it is.

Any information on how long this will be closed for?

Would have been useful if this could be opened early mornings and evenings so commuters can still use this route. In the meantime can anyone advise on best alternate route to take?
BHFL
At 19:51 on 18th May 2020, BHFL commented:
I have just reread the article above. It states that our Councillor Louise Gittens was arranging a conference call with the Councils, the RSPB and the Police to discuss this. If this has taken place could we please ask for a statement on what took place and on the proposed way forward? Hopefully, they can all work together to reopen the route, Perhaps some prominent signage at intervals along the route about nesting birds and RSPB owned space would help. Regular local cyclists could help to report wrong doings to the Police or RSPB.
Sniper
At 20:07 on 18th May 2020, Sniper commented:
Hi “Undefined”.

You have two “safe cycling” choices getting to deeside from Wirral by bike; on both the A540 is sadly unavoidable.

1) Ride via Puddington and thereafter turn right onto the A540, passing the site of two previous cycling fatalities and onward through Two Mills. Turn right after the Yacht (aka Pesto) into Woodbank Lane. At end of Woodbank Lane you follow the cycle path into deeside industrial estate And eventually pick up the bike path by the footbridge by RAF Seeland.

2) minimise time on A540 death zone : take Heath Lane out of Willaston - there is a bike path that links with Badgers Rake Lane. At BLR Turn LEFT and then first right into Ledsham Lane. Cross A550 (do NOT be tempted to cycle down A550- it’s just too dangerous). Turn R into Chapel Lane Ledsham village and onwards to A540 where Left past the yacht and follow instructions in 1 above.

The most dangerous spot for both routes is on A540 ... the right turn after the Yacht... speeding traffic, blind bend, narrow road.

Sorry youve been affected by all of this ****e related to the arbitrary closure of Ralph’s way pal. People forget that cycling is a mode of transport not just a sport for middle aged men. Good luck.
Sniper
At 20:18 on 18th May 2020, Sniper commented:
...and, forgot to mention, as you suggest, I am in process of writing to RSPB, Justin Madders, Sustrans, Grant Sharps and also the Leader of Chester Council Louise Gittins. Would urge others to do same. Madders and Gittins are already aware Of the closure of Ralph’s Way but seemingly haven’t been able to make an impact during their high level conference calls with RSPB . No surprise there to be honest. Chocolate teapots spring to mind, but I also see that they’ve spent Quite some time on Twitter criticising the governments “get cycling/get walking” covid transport messages. If only they expended similar energy actually encouraging cycling and walking and helping us remove barriers...we might actually have made progress here. Hey ho
waleskun
At 20:40 on 18th May 2020, waleskun commented:
I've had a look for alternative routes.

The one I've come up with takes a right turn in Puddington. This does take in a private road though so I'm not so sure about it and have never taken in this road. You then cross the border and end up in the idustrial estate and join the greenway near the Morrisons/UPS/Toyota. I guess you'll know when you are there. I'll maybe have a look next time I need to make the trip and can post a link to a gpx route if needed.

The only other timely route would unfortunately take in some of the high road. You would need to go through Neston, Burton and Puddington then turn right on to the high road. Take a right at the Two Mills and you can join the greenway at the Welsh Bridge.
south wirral cyclist
At 20:58 on 18th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
Undefined - I guess only the RSPB could tell you for certain when the path might be opened. They have a website with contact details deeestuary@rspb.org.uk 0151 353 8478 and 0151 353 2720. There is also a phone number on the sign in the photo at the top of this thread which looks like an 0151 334 number but I can't decipher the rest. I'm sure a simple polite enquiry is the best approach. If we aggrevate RSPB they will become less inclined to open the path quickly. BHFL's suggestion of offering to report anyone misbehaving on the path to the RSPB is also a good one.
Anthony A
At 21:14 on 18th May 2020, Anthony A commented:
If your bike can cope with slightly bumper ground, especially in current dry weather, then going through Shotwick is a lovely option. You can't avoid the A540 but you turn off it earlier (and not on a bend), just before the Yacht/Pesto. Lovely quiet lane, then cross Shotwick dip with care, then follow road/track through Shotwick to Deeside.
south wirral cyclist
At 21:19 on 18th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
Waleskun (and undefined) - Your first route looks as though it might be the same as the one googlemap (Burton to Deeside Ind. estate) suggests. I haven't tried it, so no guarantees. A googlemap cycle route has put me into a ploughed field in the past! From the google satellite it looks as if this route might be a fairly rough track, but might not be too bad. I guess the only way to find out is try it when you have the time to turn around if the going gets too tough!
Anthony A
At 21:58 on 18th May 2020, Anthony A commented:
Sorry folks but there's no way through on that Puddington route. It's not a right of way. There's a footpath nearby but not suitable (or legal) for bikes either.
Carrie Spacey
At 22:23 on 18th May 2020, Carrie Spacey responded:
I forwarded a link to this article and, therefore, the comments thread, to the RSPB press office today. I asked them to update us on whether they plan to re-open the path in the near future. Currently awaiting their response, but will report back if/when they reply.
south wirral cyclist
At 23:06 on 18th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
Anthony A - Thanks for the info. I'm not surprised as if there were a way through someone on here would have found it by now! I've informed google that there is no route for cyclists, so others don't waste time trying it. It usually takes them a couple of weeks to update their data though.
waleskun
At 09:46 on 19th May 2020, waleskun commented:
Thats a shame Anthony A, thanks for letting us know
south wirral cyclist
At 13:53 on 19th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
A reply from Sustrans on the 'Save Burton Greenway' facebook page states

‘Cheshire West and Chester Council, Flintshire County Council, the RSPB and Sustrans have all worked together to reopen of the greenway and to ensure that the route is used in a safe and courteous manor for everyone to enjoy. A press release is due to be released today about the reopening of the route.’

Let's hope it's good news!
Carrie Spacey
At 14:39 on 19th May 2020, Carrie Spacey responded:
The Greenway is to re-open this week. New article now published, link provided at the very top of the above article.
undefined
At 19:38 on 19th May 2020, undefined commented:
Thanks for the info everyone.

I took the two mills route today towards the yacht, was quiet in the morning and a little busier this afternoon but worked out well. Probably wouldn’t be a favourite route as traffic starts to get busier but by the looks of it the pathway should be opened up again tomorrow.

Nice to have a few options and a change of scenery when needed though.

Cheers,
Chris
John Cartlidge
At 10:12 on 20th May 2020, John Cartlidge commented:
I’ve posted this in the two discussions – hope this is okay. Years since I have used the route – May I ask is there a sign when you reach the Welsh border, so as to help avoid falling foul of the differing Covid restrictions – i.e. in Wales no unnecessary journeys?
south wirral cyclist
At 11:01 on 20th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
John - I don't know whether there is a sign on the border on this path, but I'm curious as to why you think this is necessary. I doubt that there are notices on any of the numerous England/Wales border crossings. In fact I haven't seen a single covid related sign anywhere except on TV! I think the government relies on the media to inform us, although unfortunately the media often misquote the guidelines!

The guidelines do of course differ significantly between England and Wales, but the only reliable source are the government documents
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home
https://gov.wales/staying-home-and-away-others-guidance
Even the '2m guidance' is different! The England document was also updated 2 days ago.
south wirral cyclist
At 11:17 on 20th May 2020, south wirral cyclist commented:
John - I think I may have misunderstood your comment. There is a sign marking the border. It's close to the Deeside end of the boardwalk.
In my previous reply I assumed you meant a sign indicating the changes in COVID guidelines once you crossed into Wales.
John Cartlidge
At 11:27 on 20th May 2020, John Cartlidge commented:
Hi,

Thanks twice!

I was just about to reply to clarify, which you have done - yes, I just wanted to know if there was a 'Welcome to Wales' / Croeso i Wales' or similar so that users of the path know not to go any further for fear of being fined for entering Wales for a non-essential purpose.
Anthony A
At 17:37 on 20th May 2020, Anthony A commented:
Bear in mind that the current rules in Wales permit - indeed encourage - exercise outside the home so I think it's highly unlikely that crossing the border, provided it's relatively local, will lead to any penalty. The guidance does say, however that 'People are expected to only cycle on routes they know well, and that are well within their ability level.'

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