Published: 4th APRIL 2023

The steps I took to redesign a physical barrier on the National Cycle Network: Josh's story

Josh runs a free service which allows people with mobility issues to experience the joys of traffic-free routes through his trishaw rides. When he encountered a restrictive physical barrier on the National Cycle Network on his trishaw, he was determined to find a solution to make the route accessible for all.

Josh navigates a pair of bollards on his trishaw. Credit: Toby Spearpoint

Share this page

Getting out into nature has enormous positive effects on both the mind and the body. 

For people who don’t have access to green spaces due to mobility issues, Monty’s Bike Hub, a Southampton-based social enterprise and charity, provides a free ‘Trishaw Trips’ service to give people the opportunity to sit back, feel the wind in their hair and enjoy traffic-free routes on the National Cycle Network

But travelling along the Network isn't always a walk in the park, as Josh, a Sustrans volunteer and the founder of Monty’s Bike Hub, experienced. 

In this blog post, Josh explains how he fought to get a barrier redesigned to benefit not just his volunteers and the people who enjoy his trishaw rides, but everyone in the surrounding area too.


A restrictive barrier stopped me in my tracks

Cycling along on his trishaw on Route 2 of the Network, Josh came across a physical barrier which forced him to stop.

He had no choice but to get off the trishaw and precariously navigate through a pair of close-set bollards and past a chicane barrier.

Josh explained: “The barrier was put in a long time ago to stop motorbikes, but motorcyclists still managed to get through.

“People were just riding round the edges of it which created a lot of mud.  

“It was a really tight squeeze to get through; it wasn’t easy.

“I then imagined my dream route, which would be something that flows a bit more, where people don’t get stuck in the mud.”

Getting through the barrier may have been just about doable for Josh, but some of his volunteer riders who aren’t as mobile as he is would have struggled or been completely unable to get through on the trishaw. 

This would have caused similar access issues for someone using a mobility aid or an adapted cycle on the route. 

Unwilling to accept defeat in the face of the physical barrier, Josh was motivated to take action to get the barrier redesigned so the route between Woolston and Hamble and beyond could be enjoyed by all, without limitations. 

Getting through the barrier may have been just about doable for Josh, but some of his volunteer riders who aren’t as mobile as he is would have struggled. Credit: Josh Allen

Finding out who owns the barrier and how to get it redesigned

Josh’s first step in getting the barrier redesigned was to work out who owned the land the barrier was on. 

This was not a straightforward process and took a lot of back-and-forth emails before he found the right people to talk to.

Drawing from his existing knowledge, he contacted his former colleagues from the ‘My Journey’ team’ at Southampton Council

The team is responsible for delivering sustainable transport and active travel projects in the area.

Josh also reached out to his local Sustrans volunteering team and the Sustrans regional Network Development team to draw on their local knowledge.

The bike shop manager made an important discovery about the land the barrier is situated on and therefore who owns it. 

He said: “After sending lots of emails and copying lots of people in, we finally managed to join all the dots.

“It took a lot of pushing the council and finding the landowner was tricky.

“It turned out that even though the barrier - which is located near the border - is in Hampshire, Southampton Council actually owns the land and is therefore responsible for the barrier.” 

Josh then arranged a meeting with a transport planning officer he knew from Southampton Council to take a look at the barrier and how it could be redesigned to improve access. 

He worked as a team alongside Eric Reed, a Sustrans Paths for Everyone volunteer and a retired transport planner, who looks after that section of the Network.

A surge in funding for the council meant that things could get moving with the redesign process.

A small child wearing a helmet and a spaniel dog sat in the front of a cargo bike in a newly-designed barrier on Route 2 of The Network. Credits Credit Josh Allen of Monty's Bike Hub

Josh's daughter, Cari and his dog, Tilly enjoying the redesigned barrier from the comfort of their cargo bike. Credit: Josh Allen

A long process but a worthwhile wait

From coming across the restrictive barrier in 2019, to getting to the bottom of who owned it and finally seeing the changes made to the barrier in 2021, the redesign process was a long, but worthwhile one.

Josh said it’s been “really nice” to be able to pass through on the trishaw and in his cargo bike with ease since the redesign. He added: “It’s so easy to get through now compared to what it was like before.

“When I do led rides everyone is really pleased about it. 

“We did a Facebook post on the barrier too and there were some local people who use mobility scooters who made some nice comments about how it’s made things more accessible for them too, which is great.”  

With one successful physical barrier redesign under his belt, Josh now has his mind set on redesigning another in a county park in Hampshire.

To find out more about the work Josh does, you can visit the Monty's Bike Hub website.

With one successful physical barrier redesign under his belt, Josh has his mind set on redesigning another in a county park in Hampshire. Credit: Josh Allen

Read more personal stories