Chaos on the shared path

I write regarding the Eve Black coastal walkway, which runs through the dunes between Blyth and Seaton Sluice.

I have lived at Seaton Sluice for 30 years. When I first moved here, well before the path was laid, residents and visitors freely used the dunes to exercise dogs, and families enjoyed the green space and beach. It was a wonderful place.

Since the path was installed, everything has changed, and daily dog walks especially have become extremely stressful, the path now being much of a battleground between pedestrians and cyclists.

Sustrans did contribute money towards the path, but a lot came from both government and European grants, so contrary to what some cyclists believe, it is not principally a cycle path but is supposed to be a shared ‘leisure track.

A bad idea, I know, given the limited space and its location, but nevertheless, it is supposed to be for everyone to enjoy, whether they be on foot or on a cycle.

Why then, I wonder, do some cyclists who use the path seem to think that it is a race track, and that they have priority?

If I ever dare to suggest to a cyclist that they should let people know they are there, I am subjected to a torrent of abuse as they ride off.

If, heaven forbid, cyclists see a dog in front of them, they seem to take it as a direct challenge and speed up to force the poor creature to jump into the bushes in fright. Would they do the same to a child? Sadly, from what I have witnessed, the answer is yes.

Families, children, dog owers – everyone is fair game and expected to move off the path so that cyclists can rise in peace. All in all it is totally unacceptable behaviour.

Section 62 of the Highway Code states that cyclists should slow down when approaching pedestrians; Section 66 states cyclists should make pedestrians aware of their presence.

It is not ‘uncool’ to let people know you are there. Pedestrians appreciate it.

Most dog owners, myself included, if we know a cyclist is approaching, will move our dogs to the side of the path. It is just courtesy.

Would it be so hard for cyclists to afford pedestrians the same courtesy?

Moving on to horses. Council bylaws state that horse riders are not supposed to use the path. Signs are in place to advise them.

Access points to the beach are wide and are likewise, well signed, yet still horses frequent the dunes, the riders again being abusive if it is pointed out that they should not be there.

Apart from the risk factor of pedestrians being injured by a frisky horse, what about the hygiene aspect?

Council wardens are quick to prosecute anyone who does not pick up after their dog, but what about horse riders and the copious amounts of manure regularly left along the track? Why are they not prosecuted or made to clear it up?

Which brings me on to coastal wardens. There is a definite need for a visible presence along the dunes to ensure that people behave responsibly, but I have never seen anyone anywhere but in the hut at Blyth. Surely some work could be done by an administrator, allowing the warden to be out doing the job in the fresh air.

As things stand, there is chaos ensuing along the path and pedestrians are regularly being put in danger because of some cyclists and horse riders.

I would like to see Northumberland County Council address the problems.

Name and address supplied