A new barrier in Salford has been criticised, with calls for it to be removed by the council. 

Disabled cycling advocate and wheelchair user Richard, who goes by HeavyMetalHandcyclist on twitter, believes that the barrier is illegal. 

Credit: HeavyMetalHandcyclist

“That specific one is impassable to anyone on a hand cycle. On a recumbent, you just cannot turn that quickly. If that is a route where cyclists are otherwise permitted to be, and I believe it is, then they have broken the law.

“Visually impaired cyclists will often use a tandem. So the person on the front will be sighted and we’ll be doing the steering and the person in the back will be pedalling as well.  If you can’t get through on a tandem, you’ve been disadvantaged.

“There is no maybe, in this instance, it’s a binary test. Are cyclists allowed along this route? If yes, can I get my hand cycle through here through these barriers without significant disadvantage? If no, that’s illegal.”

This is not the first barrier which Richard has campaigned to get removed, and he has campaigned successfully dozens of times around the country in regards to the removal of obstructions. 

“I’ve never actually ended up in court, we’ve always settled out of court. I have done this dozens of times. I have served the papers several times. And I have begun the process of filing with small claims court, but have never ended up in court.

“They often put a barrier to stop mopeds getting through, or other antisocial use, and they forget we exist.

“I look at all of the law, and all the law is is a set of specifications. Follow the specifications, and you should be okay. A lot of the nuances are irrelevant to day-to-day. So I think that it is valuable for advocates, who are going to stand their ground, be the test case, and put their heads up above the parapet.

“There’s never really been a governmental or nationwide campaign to really tackle these barriers. If there has, it’s been on the basis of hindering cyclists, and not led by disabled people.”

Richard also believes that exposure for disability commuters is important, and has recently appeared in a Transport for London advert. 

“When you print your maps and pamphlets, don’t just have your generic cyclist on the front. Stick a cargo bike on there. Stick a tricycle, stick a hand cycle. The picture in the back of the bus, make every 3rd, or make every 10th one a hand cycle.” 

If you’d like to learn more about inclusive cycling, more information can be found here

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