IMPORTANT! Save The Thicket footpath!

Walked along The Thicket footpath recently? Notice some innocuous notices fixed to walls and lampposts? If you didn't, you might want to read the contents! It's proposed to create a wide cycle track along the footpath.


A good thing, you might think. Will reduce the risk to walkers by lycra louts speeding silently from behind. But it’s the width of the section for cyclists that is of concern. Between 2.5 and 3 metres. That sounds like more than half the width. Many walkers are in pairs or more. Most cyclists are single travellers. Won’t the change effectively make The Thicket footpath a cycle track?

They don't make it easy to view the plans. Huntingdonshire District Council offices in Huntingdon or Cambridgeshire County Council offices in Cambridge. There’s a Public Enquiry at 10am on Wed 22 March and Thu 23 March at Commemoration Hall in Huntingdon.

What happened to the formal planning process? That has publication in newspapers. Also online access to plans and the ability to view other objections. Cambridgeshire Walks will be viewing and posting the plans online asap.

If you care about The Thicket footpath, please make your opinion known. Email concerns to nationalcasework@dft.gsi.gov.uk. The email that opens will automatically include the reference NATTRAN/E/CYCLETRACK/92. Email your town or parish, district and county councillors for good measure!

NOTE There are updates to this topic under view the Order and plansoptions to register your view and Thicket Inquiry - The Experience

31 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:59 am

    If people wish to cycle to Houghton then please try the very under used cycleway on Houghton Road and leave the Thicket to walkers. There will be a significant money saved too and since HDC are always pleading poverty-it should brighten their day.

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    1. Anonymous10:23 am

      I agree... the clue is in the term 'FOOTpath'.

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    2. Anonymous10:39 am

      Should i have to make my kids cycle next to a main road? If walkers gave consideration to cyclists as well, all would be ok. There has to be give and take in this. The Thicket has been used by both walkers and cyclists for years and years. There is only an issue if you make one.

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    3. Anonymous4:20 pm

      Certainly do not want children cycling bear a busy road. But also want children to be able to walk The Thicket path safely. Having children, I've no doubt you are a considerate cyclist. If you're not all cyclists were.

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  2. Anonymous9:52 am

    Nice unbiased piece referencing "lycra louts" in the second paragraph. Flatten the lot if that's your attitude.

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    1. Anonymous10:20 am

      Not against considerate cyclists, even if donned in lycra. It's the idiots going full speed with no warning or consideration that give cyclists a bad press.

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  3. Anonymous10:32 am

    Shame on you. A shockingly written article. Your reference to lycra louts and the fact that the majority of cyclists are lone cyclists. Have you never walked the thicket at the weekend when families are out in force. A cycle path would benefit the walkers too, making a stroll safer. I am shocked that this badly written piece was allowed to be published.

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    1. Anonymous4:28 pm

      Shockingly written? Badly written? Please explain. (Note : Reading something you disagree with doesn't make it badly written). The clue is in the name... FOOTpath. A family with young children walking the footpath can't be accommodated on half the path or less. If a cycle track is marked out allowing a single cycle, and allowing walkers two abreast, that would be acceptable.

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    2. Anonymous6:02 am

      PS : I walk The Thicket footpath to Houghton at leat once a week throughout the year.

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  4. Tom Rawlinson10:45 am

    Speaking as a cyclist, this kind of measure makes things worse.

    The danger in these encounters is almost entirely caused by the pedestrian doing something unexpected, moving into the path of the cyclist.

    Putting a line down the thicket pathway will encourage cyclists to pass pedestrians without warning/at speed/too close. All the things they've never been taught to beware of (just as they've never been taught about the very dangerous trap alongside lorries at junctions).

    Collisions will increase since the peds don't concentrate the same way and will freely cross any line!

    Only a kerb between the two will improve matters - and do we want the extra width, a veritable highway?

    (Yes, some cyclists are thoughtless and have never been taught to expect erratic ped behaviour - education might help - though in these days of video, punishment of any cyclist passing too close is surely easy and would delight anti-cycle bigots)

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  5. Anonymous11:01 am

    What a waist of money walkers and bike users have used the thicket for yeats never none a problem so leave alone

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  6. Anonymous11:10 am

    I think it is a good thing, I dont see a real argument against it.

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  7. Ian Digby1:34 pm

    The Thicket was like a sanctuary when we were young. As a footpath, everyone can enjoy that ability to quietly get away from it all on a meditative walk. As a cycle track also, that resource has been taken away from the many to please the few. It's good to promote cycling for physical health reasons, but a grave mistake to compromise mental health by destroying quiet walks.

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  8. My own recent experience of dealing with HDC planning officers is that they are simply not to be trusted. They seem to prefer a quiet life and do what ever they can to sneak issues under the radar. They are also likely to be dismissive of objectors and keep information either close to their chest or out of sight. To use a well worn phrase, it felt very much like a case of the tail wagging the dog. Beware; if the application is for up to 3 metres and much wider than it needs to be then there is a good chance something bigger is planned for the future. Like an access road, for example, to service the new estate.

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  9. Anonymous1:43 pm

    I feel so bad that these changes will ruin this fantastic path for walkers. Of course it is vital to have places for cyclists too. Please please put notices reminding cyclists to take care and use their bell to warn walkers they are coming. At the moment cyclists are very courteous along the Thicket. But with these changes, it may be like other routes - like The Guided Bus pathway.I have lost count of the times I had been nearly run over by cyclists there.

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  11. Anonymous2:11 pm

    Pointless waste of money. Middle aged cyclists, (council member cyclists?) trying to avoid labouring up Houghton Hill. Plenty of other things this money could be spent on since there is already a perfectly good footpath. The thicket path is a scenic and scarce piece of natural woodland and the footpath is there for people to walk and enjoy the space. The rate at which cyclists race through is already dangerous to children and dogs and makes point of the thicket an irrelevance. There is simply no need for them to be there but if they must use it, respect walkers, dogs and children. No to making it a race track.

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  12. As a walker, runner and cyclist along the route. I have seen inconsiderate people both as walkers and cyclists. Walkers don't have an issue with 4 or 5 abreast and not moving. Dog walkers often have their dogs off leads and cyclist do indeed cycle through at speed. Not really sure marking it will make a difference

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  13. Anonymous5:07 pm

    You are all missing one vital point . this widening operation will impact on the wild life of the area destroying the canopy that attracts the birds that we all go to see. I fear the "Bird sanctury / plantation" will be totally destroyed in the comming years with the houghton hill developement moving ever closer.Wild life is moving out as as the area is trampled flat. Steps should be taken to close the route to cyclists by imposing more obstacles duck unders etc

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  14. Anonymous6:24 pm

    The thicket does not need widening, there is room for everyone if people are considerate and show a little respect for each other

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  15. Anonymous6:26 pm

    I wonder what the problem is? What problem is this the solution to? Who is driving this proposal? Developers? This isn't about cyclists versus pedestrians. Both have been using the footpath together for years without problems. We enjoy the thicket as a family, both cycling and walking without problem. Others are right to point out there is an alternative route for serious cyclists should the Thicket footpath not suit them. I think any change to the Thicket footpath is wholly unnecessary.

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  16. Most of the individual cyclists are not an issue, but I must add all bicycles come with a bell and that is often the first thing to be taken off. A polite ping on the bell gives the pendestrians clear warning that a bike is approaching them from behind. I have no issues when cyclists are polite enough to give plenty of warning that they are approaching, slow down enough for me to collar my dog and give them plenty of room to pass.
    What I very much object to are the organised groups of cyclists that are out in the masses, cycle side by side and expect the walkers to be off pretty much off the path so that they can get passed. There have been occasions where there are 20-30 cyclists out together in one group peddling down the thicket.
    This is what I don't want the cycle path to encourage and fear that it will do just that. Gone are the days of ducking under the bar on your bike just as you hit the wooded section.
    I hear what people are saying about their children cycling along next to the road, but wouldn't they be as intimidated and at risk in some ways with big groups of cyclists bearing down on them?

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  17. Anonymous8:31 pm

    I think the worse thing to encounter along the path is a car that managed to get as far as the bollards! It had to reverse all the way back!

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  18. Anonymous9:27 pm

    As a casual recreational cyclist and a more serious sporting rider I find it amazing that the latter type find it necessary to ride through the thicket at all. It maybe deemed safer to avoid traffic but there are many quieter roads and lanes in this area to cycle on without taking the risk of colliding with walkers etc. If people really want to ride The Thicket path, RESPECT is the word SLOW DOWN and GET A BELL!

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    1. Anonymous10:14 pm

      Well said! Just common sense.

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  19. Anonymous10:21 pm

    I won't be able to go and have a look at the notices until next weekend, and I can't make a judgement until I've seen the plans (which should really be available online). Is this widening mentioned anywhere online? I can't find it.

    I've used the thicket for years, walking with family and friends, walking my friend's dog, cycling both alone and with other people for both leisure and practical purposes (e.g. cycling to Huntingdon to go to shops that we don't have in St Ives). They upgraded the path a few years ago, and it has clearly been a significant improvement for everyone. The vast majority of people cycling on the Thicket are people cycling at a sensible speed in everyday clothes for leisure and transport purposes - saying "lycra lout" creates an us vs. them attitude that no one wants and that doesn't reflect the reality of who is actually using the Thicket path. Indeed, people claimed the widening of the path a few years ago meant that the Thicket was turned from a quiet path into a high-speed path dominated by "lycra louts", yet, as anther commenter has said, this clearly hasn't happened.

    On the plans themselves, are you sure a segregated cycle path is proposed? This would be very surprising because almost all cycle paths in Cambridgeshire are shared use. Are you sure they aren't just proposing to turn the footpath into an official shared use path (perhaps with some small upgrades to the path), which would be a sensible change that reflects actual usage? The current path is about 2.5m wide, and segregating it into 2m for pedestrians and 2.5-3m for cyclists would require a lot more land. That would be a very surprising proposal.

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    1. Anonymous11:15 pm

      The term 'lycra louts' is meant only to apply to the dangerous cyclists.

      You make a good point... maybe the proposal is to make it a shared path, though that's no different from what already exists.

      The plans are not available online and not even at libraries. Will be viewing them at Huntingdon on Monday & hope to post them online, so watch this space.

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  20. Anonymous11:23 pm

    This path was resurfaced over three years ago. At the same time the County Council proposed it be designated by a Cycle Track Order to allow cycling. As there were objections this did not happen and this inquiry is to decide if it will be designated by a Cycle Track Order to allow cycling. It will not be further widened.

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    1. Anonymous6:10 am

      It appears cyclists have no legal right to use a footpath unless a local by-law or traffic regulation allow this. The offence is a civil one, and not criminal. So the intention of the public enquiry might be to formally recognise what has happened for years and allow cycling on The Thicket footpath, with no intention to separate cyclists and walkers. Let's see what the plans reveal.

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  21. Anonymous6:13 am

    A solution to slow down speeding cyclists might be to add sleeping policemen along the route. Ideally not high enough to disrupt the enjoyment of casual cyclists, but enough to rattle the dangerous ones.

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    1. Anonymous7:13 pm

      I wouldn't support speed humps on the path because it could pose a trip hazard for pedestrians and any humps that are large enough to discourage fast cyclists would also have an effect on casual cyclists, especially those who are more frail.

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