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Cycling Byelaw Consultation

Purpose of the Consultation

Newton Abbot residents and visitors were asked for their views on modernising a 1951 rule (Byelaw) that makes it illegal to ride any cycle in five of the town’s parks: Courtenay, Baker’s, Forde, Osborne and Powderham. The change (amendment) to the byelaw would enable clearly marked park routes to be dedicated as safe, off-road travel links that people on bikes can use.  

One of the main barriers identified for residents not going on family cycling trips or for not cycling to school, to work or to shop is not feeling safe due to the volume of road traffic. This is of particular concern for vulnerable users such as young children, disabled or less confident riders. 

By enabling people to use clearly marked local park routes, the council hopes to remove some of the obstacles that prevent people from a wider diversity of communities opting for more active travel methods while at the same time making sure parks remain safe for walking, for children’s play and for relaxing 

The ambition to create safe and appealing routes for individuals, families and visitors was set out in 2021 in the Heart of Teignbridge Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). Courtenay, Baker’s and Sandringham parks were given as examples of where safe routes, and in the case of Sandringham an improved link, could benefit communities. 

Byelaw wording 

This is the bylaw that was created in 1951 (over 70-years ago) and remains in force today (it covers five parks in Newton Abbot - Bakers Park, Courtenay Park, Forde Park, Osborne Park and Powderham Park):  A person shall not ride any bicycle, tricycle or other similar machine in any part of the pleasure ground.   

The proposed replacement bylaw is as follows:  

A person shall not ride any bicycle, tricycle or other similar machine in any part of the pleasure ground except in any part of the ground where there is a right of way for cycles or on a designated route for cycles.  

Consultation process

The public consultation was live for 6-weeks, from 1 December 2022 until Thursday 12 January 2023 and respondents were asked to complete an online feedback form or to request a paper feedback form. It was advertised on our website, in newsletters, on social media, in the local newspapers, and the Teignbridge Cycle Forum was notified (this group includes a broad range of stakeholders, with an interest in walking and accessibility, as well as cycling).  


504 feedback forms were completed: 67.5% of respondents live in the TQ12 postcode area, 24.5% in the wider TQ postcode area, and 7.5% from the EX postcode area, and 0.5% undefined. The highest response rates were from within the three age brackets between 45 to 74.  

Some 64.5% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the byelaw amendment. The main benefits raised were that the parks can and should provide for all users to access in a respectful way, support wellbeing, the environment, and provide safety off busy roads (in particular to avoid the Totnes Road).  

The need for segregated routes was raised frequently and shared-use routes were often seen as suitable only with well-targeted signage, suitable widths and visibility. The need to promote respectful behaviours and/or targeted enforcement was raised, as was the importance of reducing the risk of rule-breaking or tackling frequent rule-breaking if it occurred.  

Some 32.5% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the proposed amendment. The main concerns were the need to protect spaces for the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of pedestrians only.  There were concerns about the risk of bicycle users riding at higher speeds than is suitable in parks and lack of oversight or enforcement. There were concerns about increased risk of conflict for more vulnerable pedestrians, including less mobile users, children playing and dogs off lead, if some users on bicycles were not considerate or deviated from a permitted route.  

Next Steps

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to the public consultation. The feedback was carefully considered (see below for detailed information) and has informed our next steps. Based on the overall level of local support, we will apply to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for permission to replace the byelaw. We expect to do so during May 2023.  A response should be received within 30-days, which we will share an update with you. 

The importance of appropriate route design to reduce risk of conflict between users is key when dedicating any route as permissible for those on bicycles. It is standard practice that any new or amended active travel route delivery includes a proper review of demand, local support, feasibility, design requirements and risk assessment based on specific route location needs. Shared route provision is considered where segregated provision is not feasible or suitable, and where it can be delivered with a reasonably low expected level of conflict and is, on-balance, a significant benefit for local users. E-bicycles are permitted on active travel routes, as standard. E-bicycles are restricted to a 15.5mph maximum speed using battery support.  

Some respondents were particularly concerned about the risk of potential inconsiderate behaviour from some bicycle riders. There is of course personal responsibility of users to ensure their behaviour is responsible towards others. However, there will be clear and effective signage for any future park routes that will promote respectful and responsible behaviour from all users. The Teignbridge Cycle Forum is held biannually to provide an update on active and sustainable travel delivery and to receive feedback on local needs and opportunities. Feedback at previous Forum sessions has resulted in additional signage on some stretches of route and a user awareness event on the ‘Racecourse route’ that passes across Jetty Marsh. Enforcement action may be taken in circumstances when it is considered necessary and an appropriate use of public funds.  

The alternative option of not going ahead with this specific byelaw replacement would not enable safe, off-road links for those using bicycles, who are not sufficiently confident to ride on busy and/or congested roads. The alternative option of reviewing and modernising all of the byelaws for Newton Abbot parks (and possibly other closely associated local byelaws too), is not feasible at this time due to the level of resource that would be required from multiple departments. The remaining byelaws do not require imminent consideration, but replacing this specific byelaw enables funding for active travel to be utilised for practical route delivery, aligning with local and central government objectives. Resource will be required in future to review and modernise all the byelaws and to consider other options such as public space protection orders.  

View the full details of the consultation report

When this content has been updated

Last updated 23 May 2023