Thorn Watch North Wales!
Yet again the prickly season is with us and we hear the usual protests from riders caught unawares by seasonal hedge trimmings left on the road to cause punctures and inconvenience galore.
This page is being left open to receive reports from you, the riders, on any roads you come across where hedge trimming have been left uncleared.
Please email the editor giving a brief description of the location involved and if possible a Grid Reference. It would also be helpful to know the identity of the landowner or organisation responsible, but this information may not be published on this page.
We take it you will not mind us publishing your name, but if you prefer to remain anonymous or use a nom de plume, do let us know.
Here are some recent complaints:
Our friends with the tractors have been busy down the cycle path between Rhuddlan and St. Asaph. Yesterday there was a thick covering of hawthorns being spread along the path as I drove by in the car. The Sarn Lane route is finally clearing through the action of decay - there has been no sign of any clear up this year.
Best wishes, Stephen Price
Since I last contacted you, one of the farmers on Sarn Lane Bodelwyddan has left a thick carpet of hawthorns on the path and on the road. Yesterday, I manage to pick up multiple thorns and have probably ruined a tyre. Apart from safety and inconvenience it is becoming expensive. I'm furious.
Incidentally, Gwaenasgor hill has also been sown with thorns (but I was in the car on that occasion). Another contribution to 'Thorn Watch'
Best wishes, Stephen Price
I would add my name to this protest. I rode down this path on Sunday, and it was in a quite unacceptable condition. Fortunately I did not puncture but more as a matter of luck than anything else. This year I have not only had to replace a bike tyre through glass punctures but have had to repair several thorn punctures. In addition to this it has cost me £75 for two new tyres for the car due to thorn punctures - the problem does not only affect cycle paths but is a perennial problem on country lanes.
Failure to clear hedge cuttings is endemic in the farming community, and does not help their image one bit. When they are insistent that the rest of the community should have sympathy for their problems it does not help for them to cause problems and danger for those whose sympathy they are courting!
I did remonstrate with one chap cutting hedges a few years ago, but he couldn't have cared less - just took the line that it was the farmers responsibility, and "not his problem". I could have cheerfully rolled him in his own clippings (but was too polite to do so, of course). It is time the council took enforcement action that would make such people and the farmers that employ them sit up and learn to care. I fear they will just continue to ignore the problem unless they are given a good dose of legal stick.
This practice is of course illegal - comprising the deposit of potentially dangerous material on the highway (as also is mud from fields and farmyards). There was an article in the cycling press some months ago about a cycling club taking one farmer to court and obtaining judgement and compensation over punctures. The judgement recognised that the puncture may not happen immediately, but could take place further along the journey if the thorn took some time to work through the tyre (as happened with my glass puncture). This could cause a sudden deflation in the middle of a tricky traffic manoeuvre, with consequent loss of control and danger to life. (The consequences of such a situation if the vehicle were a high-powered motor cycle travelling at speed do not bear contemplation).
Unfortunately I didn't save the article, but it may well have been in the CTC magazine.
While thorns are probably the worst problem, other "loose material" items which cause danger and need to be tackled are glass (there is a considerable patch on the Bodelwyddan cycle lane which has been there for some weeks and was still there on Sunday) and the annual danger of loose chippings and rough surfacing from surface dressing (tar spray and chippings) - the most hazardous and diabolically uncomfortable road surfacing in general use. The use of this needs to be banned.
Regards, Bill Twigg
On 29 Oct 2003 Roy Spilsbury wrote:
To Denbighshire CC
Further to our recent correspondence on this subject, I attach yet another complaint about the condition in which certain cycle paths are left after hedge trimming. Less than a week ago I received a report that this length of path had been left in a disgraceful condition after trimming.
I am aware of the arrangements next year for the LA to take over the responsibility, but for this year, is it time to consider enforcement action against the landowner responsible? Surely he/she should be aware of the legal obligation to make good the surface. It is making a mockery of the investment of serious public funds in what is intended to be a safe and attractive leisure and commuting route.
Regards Roy CTC Cymru
To Stephen Price from Denbighshire C.C.
Dear Mr Price,
I apologise for the problems these thorns are causing. I know my colleagues in our maintenance department are trying to sort it out.
While it does not help the cyclist using the track, for your information it is the responsibility of the farmer/landowner to cut the hedge and clear up, not the highway authority. We do serve notice on them to get it cleared up, but usually we find it quicker to sweep it ourselves.
Again apologies for inconvenience caused.
Swyddog Alltudiaethau`r Amgylchedd / Environment Transportation Officer
Adran Priffyrdd a Chludiant / Highways & Transportation Department
To Environment Transportation Officer, Denbighshire from Stephen Price
Thank you for your rapid response.
The problems on Sarn Lane have existed since the path was built. If my actions resulted in cars being damaged I am sure action would be taken swiftly.
Having used the route this morning I can say the path is unrideable. As stated previously, I and others are forced to ride on the road which generates anger in drivers of motor vehicles and will, I believe, eventually result in an incident or accident taking place. Please force these landowners to clear their hedge clippings. If your department sweeps what is effectively industrial waste (at council tax payers' expense) they will continue to behave in this inconsiderate manner.
To Roy Spilsbury, CTC, from Stephen Price
Thanks to Ian Bradfield (Denbighshire CC), not the farmers responsible, Sarn Lane path is clear and thorn free.
To Various staff members of Denbighshire C.C. from Jon Harland
I'm pleased to say that Denbighshire CC have started tackling the local cycle paths that suffer from thorny hedge cuttings and other detritus at this time of year - Dyserth-Rhuddlan is now clear of problems.
I thanked the two guys who were on the job yesterday (and made it clear how helpful this is to the cycling community) with a rotary brush and blower,hich on my return journey later on seemed to have done the trick.
I know from my experience of coaching youngsters how important it is that these routes are kept passable for bikes throughout the year - and nobody has yet designed a bike tyre to cope with the 1cm hawthorn that can be turned round by a pair of legs!!
Thanks again to you DCC staff (Tim Towers/Ted Painter/Ian Bradfield),and a commitment to bring cutting/clearing in-house would be a further improvement welcomed by local cycling groups.
VC Melyd club youth coach/Rhyl CC.