On your bike, park cyclists could be told if ban is agreed

Victoria Park, Peebles
Victoria Park, Peebles

Calls are being made for cyclists to be banned from two of Peebles’ public parks.

Peebles Community Council has been asked to consult townsfolk to establish how much support there would be for cycling bans at Victoria Park and Hay Lodge Park.

Concerns over the number of bike-riders using the parks, both Peebles common good fund assets, were raised at a community council meeting there.

It was claimed the number of bikes being ridden along the parks’ paths is adversely affecting other park users.

It was also suggested that there had previously been bans on cycling at both locations, potentially setting a precedent for forbidding bikes in future.

The matter was referred to the town’s common good fund sub-committee, comprising the six Tweeddale councillors on Scottish Borders Council, and it sought a view from the council’s legal services department on the implications of any restrictions on cycling.

After discussing that advice at its latest meeting, the sub-committee, as custodian of the parks, agreed that the opinions of the Peebles public should be sought.

“As the complaint was raised at the community council, we have asked that body to undertake some consultation on whether any changes should to be made regarding cycling in these parks,” said Tweeddale West councillor Catriona Bhatia after the meeting.

“I have no doubt there will be divided opinions on this matter, so a cautious and informed approach is required”.

On the issue of previous cycling bans, the council’s legal team said in its briefing note that no council officer had any record or recollection of there ever having been any management rules at the two parks.

“Officers have advised that there appears to be some anecdotal evidence suggesting that about 40 years ago, there might have been some ban or signage in place at Victoria Park following an accident.

“However, there is no detail of what that was, how long it lasted and, indeed, how the ban was effected.”

The advice makes it clear that a complete ban on cycling would be problematic because the common law rights of landowners are now subject to right-to-roam legislation.

“Under that legislation, everyone has the right to be on, or cross, land for recreational purposes, and these rights of access extend to cycling” stated the briefing note.

“Right of access is, of course, a right to responsible access which must not interfere with the rights of others.

“It is possible there may be some scope for a management approach to the parks which ensures any exercise of access rights is, indeed, responsible.”