Ahhh. Rules. Rules. RULES. Congratulations people of Caernarfon for a healthy dose of disrespect. The promenade at Caernarfon is quiet, wide and perfect for slow ambling on the bike (emphasis on slow- if you hit any shared path at a good lick there could be issues). On a recent visit, these signs did little to dissuade the locals who clearly see the promenade as a useful and viable resource. Do you ever wonder how and why some of these rules come about? I do. Overblown concerns about safety? A councillors bugbear formalised into a by-law? Legacy from former use? Who knows. But if society really wants less car reliant, happy and fit people, then places need to be available to make people happy and fit.
The bridge at Bute Park in Cardiff is a similar bone of contention. Built to allow event traffic and deliveries into Bute Park (‘gifted’ to the people of Cardiff by the Marquis of Bute), the bridge was expensive, highly controversial and the source of outcry at the hands of the parks users. The resulting noise forced the bridge to be built in reasonably sympathetic manner, blending into its environs, controlled by barriers and subject to a 5 mph speed limit.
Bizarrely, despite being open all day and disposed to tiny volumes of traffic (at non event times) the bridge is not to be used by cyclists and pedestrians. Instead both groups are shepherded along a narrow corridor adjacent to the Welsh College of Music and Drama. Thankfully, those happy and fit park users show a sparky disregard for nonsense and use the bridge appropriately (what with it being built with public money, plumbed into a public park and being empty ‘n all).
I’ve started to notice these access issues, spotting and snapping signs whenever they pop up. For every enabling bike sign, there’s at least one that intones ‘no cycling’, ‘Dismount’, ‘Don’t park your cycle here’. The latter of those rules is particularly perplexing. In this example, you have to wonder who put a bee in St Peter’s bonnet. After all, what could possibly be worse than having a bike attached to your railings. How awful. How dreadful.
Good rules exist for good reasons. Bad rules deserve to be challenged.