Pressure is being placed on Derbyshire County Council to publish the risk assessment which justifies banning cycling and walking on the A57 Snake Pass. The council put in place a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) on February 21 following a series of three landslides along a mile long stretch of the A57.
However, on March 8, Derbyshire County Council (DCC) made the decision to close the road to all users for “safety reasons”. This sparked an outcry from cyclists, with a group of 100 riders staging a “mass trespass” on March 12 on the A57.
Cycling UK is urging DCC to make public the risk assessment stating the road to be unsafe for cyclists and walkers. The charity told Derbyshire Live, that it believes “if no evidence exists, council should open the road up again to active travel users”.
Read more: Residents reaction to Snake Pass closure
The council announced via Twitter that it would close the road to all users, except locals and their visitors, saying “there will be an accident involving a vehicle and a cyclist because of the large numbers of cyclists that have taken the opportunity to go out and ride the road”.
Cycling UK has questioned such a position saying that the council “has not put forward such a position previously when the road was open and the motor traffic flow was much heavier.” A spokesperson for the charity said: “The Snake Pass has always been popular with people cycling, and the lack of cars has only increased its popularity. Bringing in a cycling and walking ban when these activities’ greatest risk – motor vehicles – is significantly reduced does not make sense.”
The initial TRO is set to expire on March 22. Given the necessary remedial works may not have been completed by that date., Cycling UK believes the council “will look to extend the TRO keeping the A57 closed”.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said: “In the absence of a risk assessment, the council’s banning of people cycling and walking along a motor traffic-free stretch of road is baffling. Cycling UK calls on the council to publish their risk assessment justifying the ban, and if there isn’t any, to open-up the road to these activities for the enjoyment of families and others once more.”
A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “We have received the letter from Cycling UK and recognise that they are concerned about the temporary closure of the Snake Pass to cyclists.
“The weekend before last, the sheer number of cyclists, many in very large groups, riding the A57 Snake Pass, along with residents’ cars, road maintenance and farm vehicles, meant it was simply not safe. As a result, we had to take the difficult decision to extend the closure of Snake Pass to cyclists and walkers in addition to the existing closure to vehicles, other than residents’ and highways maintenance vehicles.
“We completely understand the attraction of the road to the cycling community and we did not take the decision to close lightly, but our duty to people’s safety has to come first. A minority of cyclists were riding on the wrong side of the road, and we had family groups walking down the middle of the road. We were very worried that a car would come around a corner and be faced with cyclists or people on the wrong side of the road.
“Derbyshire warmly welcomes cyclists and walkers from far and wide and we take pride in our reputation as a cycling and walking-friendly county. For now though, we ask that people do not use Snake Pass and visit one of the many other beautiful places across the county.
“We will continue to work to try to balance the needs and safety of cyclists, motorists, walkers, local residents, visitors, farmers and businesses.
“As work to assess and mend this significant landslip carries on, we will continue to keep under review if any sections of the road are safe to open. It is a very complex operation because the landslip is still moving and we thank everyone for their ongoing patience.”