Many members have found negotiating the barriers along the Loop to be a cumbersome experience, and the barriers can also prevent certain categories of potential users from venturing onto the route at all, whether in wheelchairs, tricycles, trailer bikes, or tandems. Together with Sustrans we are planning a trial opening of all the internal barriers along the Loop on six successive weekends starting shortly. Actually this will be on each Sunday and the following Monday, so that those using the route for travel to work or school can experience the change as well as leisure users. Subject to review, the barriers will then be open continuously for a three-month period following the weekend trials. The start date of the weekend openings will be confirmed as soon as small posts have been installed so that the barriers can be locked open safely – we hope by early April 2016.
Lorenza Casini, who jointly organised two successful Kidical Mass rides last autumn, with the barriers open, has drawn up an extensive plan and schedule for the openings in a feasibility report for the trial. Our thanks are due to her for an impressive document. She sees opening the barriers as offering the opportunity for a step-change in the use of the Loop, bringing new users in, and better linking up the different communities through which the route passes.
Different events will be planned to take place while the barriers are open, culminating in a ‘Fallowfield Loop Festival’ some time in the early summer. Towards the end of the period we will conduct a survey of users, to gauge their reactions to the opening.
There are many things that volunteers can do to contribute to the success of this programme. Please contact us if you can help with any of the following (or have any other suggestions!):
- Helping with the opening of the barriers at the start of a Sunday and closing again on Monday evening.
- Coming up with ideas for events to take place while the barriers are open.
- Giving feedback, once the trial has started, on how you find the experience of the barrier openings.