SDR Concerns Adressed

South Devon Railway have set out the reasons for their objection to the idea of allowing shared access over their bridge.  The reasons are as follows:

  • Safety: the bridge was built for pedestrian traffic only and is not suitable for safely mixing regular cycle traffic with families with buggies and wheelchair users due to its length, limited width and tight approach ramp. We are the legal owners of the bridge and have full responsibility for all the costs of its maintenance and repair and this includes the legal duty of care for the safety of its users.
  • Security: the bridge is locked outside working hours which provides a deterrent to thieves and vandals and there is no easy access to the site of our station or the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm for emergency services to provide a rapid response in the event of intruders gaining access. There are no measures that would provide an equal level of security and anything close to it would be exceptionally unsightly and very damaging to our image and therefore our business.

We believe that both South Devon Railway and the Rare Breeds Farm are fantastic assets to the local community and we would in no way wish that undue risks be taken with their security.  But we do believe that SDR’s concerns may well be able to be addressed.  We have set out our reasoning below.  Please feel free to comment at the bottom of the page!

1. It is simply not suitable or wide enough for a cycle path to mix with pedestrians Although other shared cycle / walkings paths are narrower than this bridge, we propose measures to ensure cyclists dismount, resolving this issue. These measures will need to ensure that the railway does not suffer from reduced access for buggies and wheelchairs.
2. Given the high levels of vandalism regularly experienced in Totnes, we have genuine concerns and real fears regarding the threat of such attacks on our station and the adjacent Totnes Rare Breeds Farm SDF and RBF have suffered from vandalism in the past, and we agree it’s imperative that the sites be adequately protected:

  • The proposed route would therefore follow the river edge from the bridgehead, passing more than 100 metres from the station.
  • We propose that DCC fund fencing, gates.  This should include appropriate landscaping to avoid visual impairment
  • Aesthetically sensitive fencing should run along the side of the cycle path on SWW land rather than immediately adjacent to the station on SDR’s boundary – i.e. over 100m from the station (beyond stone throwing range).
  • The new Atmos project should reduce the risks of vandalism enormously, especially as it will be manned 24 hours.
3. We have built a superb living museum and, on our own land, we do not want intrusive high palisade fences, CCTV and security lighting Fully agree, and aesthetics must be protected.  We would not support the use of unscreened, ugly security fencing.  Hence:

  • Fences should run adjacent to the cycle path, well away from SDR boundary.
  • Fences must be landscaped (i.e. mature hedging planted as screen)
  • Main gates should be aesthetically pleasing
  • CCTV could be mounted in unobtrusive locations
  • Strong lighting undesirable  – and unnecessary for CCTV (infrared or movement sensors)
4. Providing chicane-type barriers, as has been suggested to force cyclists to dismount, would then create obstructions for wheelchairs, child pushchairs and buggies… … The foot bridge is narrow and there is already congestion between passing buggies at peak times, so a big increase in cycles would be problematic
  • DCC can presumably specify and install appropriate type of barrier
  • This is a well established approach for narrow shared paths.  It may present a mild inconvenience on occasion, but we’re sure bridge users handle it with good humour.
  • At peak times, people could be advised to keep to the left, to ensure flow in both directions (a line could be painted down the middle of the bridge)
  • This slight inconvenience is surely a price well worth paying for the significantly greater benefits that flow from a safe cycle route.
5. Open access on the footbridge would make their attacks easier and, ironically, safer! Hence our concern that it would encourage more vandalism.
  • We maintain that the converse is true.  Increased and frequent public presence along the path will help deter potential vandals:  “Natural Surveillance”.
  • Path to be diverted to ensure at least 100m separation from the station (e.g. beyond stone throwing range).
6. Our location is remote and it would take time for assistance to arrive if something was spotted on CCTV which is not the case for businesses in more populated or more accessible areas Response times would actually be extremely rapid across bridge from Totnes police station – under 3 minutes travelling time by bike across the footbridge.Also note this location will be far less remote once the Atmos project is completed.
7. If the bridge was closed during, say, the hours of darkness who would then be responsible for doing so and how would they ensure that cyclists are not trapped on the wrong side? Clearly an issue:

  • Perhaps it is preferable to allow 24 hour access provided CCTV surveillance can be established – rather than create unnecessary work?
  • Alternatively, bridge could be closed at night time initially until confidence can be built.
  • Signage at the top of the proposed cycle lane, in Littlehempston, would need to clearly state the time the gates close.
  • The proposed Atmos project may also provide a solution as that site will be manned in 24 hours.
8. …even setting aside the bridge and security issues, we don’t think the proposed route is safe either because the lane is very narrow and with heavy goods vehicle traffic We think this issue is a matter for South West Water – may involve measures such as the creation of additional passing places. South West Water have offered their overall support of this project provided the safety concerns can be addressed.