Row over new barriers blocking path for wheelchair users

New footpath barriers at Grindecobbe are apparently too close together to allow wheelchair and pram access.

New footpath barriers at Grindecobbe are apparently too close together to allow wheelchair and pram access. - Credit: Tina Swain

Wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs could find themselves marooned by barriers introduced to slow down cyclists on a popular pedestrian route.

The new barriers are apparently too close together to allow easy access to the footpath at Grindecobbe, which links Cottonmill, Sainsbury's and routes to the city centre and both train stations.

Tina Swain, who lives in Cottonmill, takes the route to work every day and cannot believe the council has placed the barriers next to the dropped kerb.

She said she is appalled by the lack of thought which appears to have gone into the council-installed barriers.

"I’m bemused by the position of this barrier, so close to the only dropped kerb on this footpath.

"Parents of children at Mandeville and St Peter’s use it daily, as do others with shopping trolleys and mobility scooters. The footpath is sometimes misused by cyclists, but they can jump the kerb, while people who need the dropped kerb access now have no alternative but to walk in the road. A similar barrier further down the path was partially removed some years ago."

The district council has promised to investigate the proximity of the barriers.

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Head of housing for St Albans district council Karen Dragovic said: “The safety gates are being installed to discourage cyclists from using the footpath and to slow down those that do.

“This initiative was undertaken at the request of a ward councillor who had received complaints from nearby householders about cyclists regularly using the footpath rather than the road to access the railway line crossing.

“The gates are designed to be far enough apart to allow mobility scooters, buggies and wheelchairs to pass through.

“We are aware that they may be too close and are now checking to see if that is the case and will re-position them if necessary.

“Each Grindcobbe resident was sent a letter explaining the proposed works and asked for feedback. As no concerns were raised, the work went ahead as planned.”