By Graham Smith

I’VE an apology to make. Riding east on The High, a few afternoons ago, outside the Covered Market, I was behind a couple of other riders and we were all blocked behind a bus.

As the traffic started moving off I followed the cyclists and was aware of a woman pedestrian ‘Tssk-ing’ me.

The traffic was also blocking pedestrians who couldn’t cross either and I realised I’d moved past the lady who now had a crossing light. I feel bad about this mistake. It was innocent I thought, at slow speed, but wrong.

It was reminded of this when I noticed a couple ‘Tssk-ing’ me. Not at me so much as a ‘stage whisper’. She was muttering about me cycling and He said that I shouldn’t be cycling.

I was riding from New Inn Hall Street across Queen St to St Ebbes Street and travelling near to walking pace as there were many people.

It wasn’t ‘football crowd’ busy but busy enough to travel slowly and with respect. I turned and said, “But this is a cycle route” to which his answer was “No it isn’t”!

I pointed to the ‘no cycling’ sign further east on Queen St from the crossroads and said “You can’t cycle there but this is a cycle route (crossing Queen St). It’s part of the National Cycle Route No5”.

He again said “No, it isn’t”. I said “Yes, it is” but then we went our ways. I know I am correct on this but there is almost nothing I can point to, on the ground, to indicate the fact. Why is this?

Bonn Square itself was rebuilt a few years ago. There is nothing to indicate that a cycle route passes through from New Inn Hall St.

Well, not quite true: when it was newly built the wooden bollards at the edge of the stone paved area had a red cycle route sign and a ‘shared space with cycling and walking’ sign.

Would anyone know that a ‘red square with 5 on it’ signifies a National Cycling Route?

Subsequently the ‘shared space with cycling and walking’ sign has disappeared leaving just the red square with a ‘5’, below a circular red reflector. Who could be blamed for thinking that cycling is not allowed here?

This exchange had taken place a few metres from a new confusing sign on a pole. It informs about the Public Space Protection Order which applies in the city centre.

The first item below the map is a ‘No Cycling’ sign and the text continues: “… within the boundary marked on the map, [officers can] require you NOT to: Cycle in Queen Street and Cornmarket Street outside the permitted cycling times”.

Could you be confused into thinking that cycling is not allowed between New Inn Hall Street and St Ebbes Street?

Is the sign designed to make cycling look illegal?

I suggest that before the new stone paving for Westgate, in Queen Street, is finished there needs to be an urgent reconsideration of making the new paving indicative of the National Cycling Route passing through.