Last week, I attended the meeting of Wiltshire Council's Area Board in Melksham - a meeting that was especially scheduled on an afternoon in the middle of the week so that those people over 55 who don't normally venture out after dark would be encouraged to come along. I was surprised how sparsely attended the meeting was compared to the usual area - in fact looking around the room, I judged that there were only 6 or 7 people in the target age range who I've not seen at various evening meetings. And in contrast, many regulars weren't there; I had rearranged my work schedule and Lisa and I were being "covered" in the office, and I suspect there are others who couldn't make it at all. In hindsight, and based on the experience, I wonder whether to suggest to the Area Board that all future meetings are held when most people can make it, but that they should offer to collect and return home anyone who's worried about going out at night - that way, they'll get the best of all worlds in terms of representation. Seriously - I know only too well the problem of scheduling all-encompassing meetings!
As this was the "Old people's meeting", Older people's matters dominated. And it was very interesting indeed to hear feedback from the Area Board on issues previously raised at a February meeting. Although intended to cover any
matters of concern, it turned out that 11 of the 12 issues were travel and transport related - matters from buses to potholes to parking to cyclists being a danger on the pavement. Item 12 related to the time that it takes for records of hospital visits to get back to the GP.
I admire campaigners for groups or causes. But I worry where such campaigners and spokespeople look out purely for their own special interest group, to the exlusion of consideration of the overall picture. There were two instances even in a short meeting such as this - a campaigner for the private car launched into a most unbecoming attack on all other means of transport which I found especially ironic at a meeting set up for the elderly, many of whom cannot or choose not to drive. And - perhaps more understandably - the elder person's spokeman was advocating some issues with a bias towards his group at the exclusion of others. On the thorny subject of cycling on the pavement.
In parts of Melksham, we're between a rock and a hard place. People travel around much more than they used to. There are a lot of cars and other motorised vehicles on the road. There can be a heavy flow of pedestrians. There are cyclists needing to pass through this same stretch. And there are users of mobility scooter and motorised chairs too.
Can cyclists use the pavement?
Legally, it seems that they can't - "Many cyclists are afraid of vehicular traffic so cycle on footways. While understandable at certain busy intersections and the like, it [ac] Ä s very much against the law. If a certain stretch of road is deemed too dangerous to cycle on, choose an alternative route or walk your bike on the dangerous stretch. If you ride on the footway, you could cop a fine and you [ac] Ä ll certainly antagonise pedestrians.
" - from www.bikehub.co.uk
. But these days many local authorities including ours allow cycle access to what look like footways. Pedestrians often don [ac] Ä t know where they stand, literally.
Can mobility scooters use the pavement?
According to the Direct Government Web Site
, they can. It says "Powered wheelchairs and scooters MUST NOT travel faster than 4 mph (6 km/h) on pavements or in pedestrian areas. You may need to reduce your speed to adjust to other pavement users who may not be able to move out of your way quickly enough or where the pavement is too narrow.
". The site also says that [the mobility scooter user] "should give pedestrians priority".
My hat comes off to the elderly lady in the audience who pointed out that we have a problem in Melksham with inconsiderate mobility scooter users as well as cyclists on the pavements. She's right, and I have twice the respect for her input as I do for the input that was "support the motorist and **** the rest", and for the input that was "support the old and let the young jump fend for themselves." She has it right - she has it spot on. There's room for us all.
I walked into town at lunchtime today - along the busy Spa Road with Billy and Gypsy. And we were overtaken from behind by an electric mobility scooter. Goodness, he was going fast. I counted 13 seconds from when he passed up to the point as which he dodged past the railings where a public footpath comes out, and I then paced out the distance he had travelled in those 13 seconds - it's 52 yards. What speed was that? Well I needed a new PHP example program so I wrote one when I got back - it's [here - run it]
and [here - see the code]
. And that works out at 8.18 mph (13 kph). So that mobility scooter was travelling at more than twice the speed limit.
What would happen to a car driver who drove at more than twice the speed limit? See [here]
. Note the comments / advice is guidelines only, but a motorist in such circumstance faces a ban, and a charge of dangerous driving with an unlimited fine.
We tend to be very forgiving of the old; I'm not sure that I agree with that, but neither would I advocate rending the old boy racing his scooter housebound by banning him. I wonder if anyone has better suggestions that I do? Can the road safety speed cameras that tell you your speed (and how you're exceedng the limit) be used for mobility scooters too? Help educate the old boy and his pals, who perhaps don't realise that 4 mph is the limit, and it's a fast walking pace and no more. (written 2012-04-07, updated 2012-04-14)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesZ531 - Cycling and Walking 
Walking on The Wiltshire Downs - (2008-05-12) 
Motorcycles welcome at Well House Manor - (2008-09-19) 
Walks in and around Melksham, Wiltshire - (2009-06-21) 
Friendly Hotel in Melksham, near Bath - (2009-11-02) 
Random thoughts on Melksham Town Planning and development - (2010-03-08) 
A walk within without - Melksham Without - (2010-04-02) 
A walk on the Kennet and Avon - (2010-04-04) 
Old trackways and routes near Melksham - (2010-04-05) 
The healthy option - away from the private car - (2010-07-07) 
What do these road markings mean? Could Confusion Kill? - (2010-09-17) 
Autumn walk from Bowerhill - (2010-10-31) 
Images of a Spring Walk - (2011-03-27) 
What can you take on a public footpath? Pram? Wheelbarrow? Dog? Shopping Trolley? Horse? Cycle? - (2011-04-03) 
Footpath, Bridleway, Byway, Road used as Public Path - (2011-04-04) 
Kennet and Avon - Walk from Bedwyn to Pewsey. TransWilts day out. - (2011-08-01) 
Transport in Cambridgeshire - seen by an outside observer. What can Wiltshire learn? - (2012-01-15) 
Melksham Area - buses, trains, cycles, and roads. Meeting, 17.1.2012 - (2012-01-15) 
Fine evening, country walk from Melksham - pictures - (2012-06-21) 
Want to help us improve transport in Wiltshire? Here is how! - (2012-10-26) 
A long overdue meeting - a steeping stone towards coordinate transport user inputs - (2012-12-02) 
A request for all of Melksham transport groups to work integrated - (2013-03-01)
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