Cycling across ford in Sidmouth ‘too dangerous’ to be allowed - wider footbridge could be considered

The ford over the River Sid. Picture: Google Maps

The ford over the River Sid. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

A new bridge to accommodate cyclists next to the ford in Sidmouth could be considered.

Sidmouth councillor Stuart Hughes, who is the county council’s cabinet member for highways, suggested the possibility after a resident said the ‘dangerous’ ford in Sidmouth should be out of bounds to cyclists.

Vehicles have to drive through the ford across the River Sid linking Millford Road to Mill Street, and there is a footbridge for pedestrians, which Cllr Hughes said is narrow and has requested that a wider replacement be considered.

There is signage warning cyclists against using the ford, but many still do so.

Keith Northover, who lives nearby, said in the last few weeks he has seen two cyclists fall off their bikes after skidding on the slippery concrete surface under the water.

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The second accident happened on the afternoon of Monday, September 7, and Mr Northover described seeing the cyclist ‘lying in the water, very still’.

Police and ambulance were called to the scene.

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A police spokesman said: “Officers attended to assist with traffic due to the road being blocked for a short time.

“The man was treated by ambulance.”

The South Western Ambulance Service has confirmed that the cyclist had to be taken to hospital, but could not give details of his injuries.

Mr Northover said: “It’s really dangerous to ride in the river as the surface of the concrete is slimy. Someone’s going to have a really nasty accident one day.

“There is a notice advising cyclists that the crossing is ‘unsuitable’ for them, but many do not take notice of this sign.

“In my opinion the notice should ban cyclists from trying to cross over the ford and make them use the footbridge.”

Cllr Hughes said he is also aware of incidents involving cyclists crossing the ford.

But he said the ford is the responsibility of the Environment Agency, not the county’s roads department.

He said: “I’ve made some representations to the Environment Agency and asked if they can put some better signs up asking cyclists not to cycle across the ford.

“I’ve also requested that we look into replacing the bridge over the ford to make it wider, to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians in both directions. At the moment it’s very narrow.

“We hope we can replace it in the near future.”

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