Gate demonstration area

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Gates, gates, gates...

gate demonstartion area oatridge college

Gates and other access controls have always presented a challenge to path users and land managers. They have to meet the needs of farmers and others, who want to move vehicles and machinery, as well as keeping livestock safe and in the right place. They must also keep the path open to as wide a range of users as possible.

The rights set out in the Equality Act 2010 (which updated and replaced the Disability Discrimination Act 2005) have changed the way we should think about what happens as a path crosses a boundary or field edge. We must think about keeping physical barriers to a minimum. Where they are absolutely essential, we must ensure they offer as few restrictions as possible. If you really need some sort of physical barrier, work with the principle of choosing the least restrictive option.

The least restrictive form of access is for a path to cross a boundary through an open gap – it is the only approach that does not introduce any obstruction at all! However, there are situations where a simple gap is not possible because of the need to control livestock or restrict unauthorised vehicle access.

A two-way opening, self-closing gate is the next best form of least restrictive access. It allows path users to open it from either direction, which makes life much easier if you are on horseback or a bicycle, in a wheelchair, or manoeuvring a child's buggy. A one-way opening, self closing gate would be the next suitable option.

A kissing gate or stile provides a simple and easy form of access for pedestrians to cross a boundary. However, you should think of them as the last resort when taking into account all the users who may wish to use your path. They severely restrict access, not just for people using wheelchairs, mobility scooters and buggies or on horseback or a bicycle, but for anyone with arthritis, sore arms or legs, or just wearing the wrong clothing.

If you have concerns about unauthorised vehicles or motorbikes using the path, it is tempting to think about installing a barrier, like a motorbike inhibitor, to try to stop them. Even if you think a inhibitor is going to be effective, it may still not stop determined riders getting to the path. The motorbike inhibitors are designed to slow the rider down and make access difficult, but unfortunately they also make it difficult or impossible for legitimate users, such as horse riders. You still need to provide a suitable means of entry for them to access the path. Use motorbike inhibitors only as a last resort, or where there is a concern for user safety. Consider their use as a short term solution, and remove them once the issue is resolved. It is usually far more effective to work with the local police and develop a campaign to address the issue, rather than installing a physical barrier.

If you are thinking about installing any access control, ask yourself:

  • Is it absolutely necessary?

  • Exactly why do you need the access control?

  • How likely is it that it will restrict access for some path users?

  • What is the least restrictive option that will cause fewest problems for fewest users?

A high quality path that is attractive to wide range of users should avoid restrictive access controls. We should make a presumption against the use of any access control on a path unless there is proven need to install them, because of the difficulties they can cause to all users.

Here is a summary of which access controls at the gate demonstration area will allow access to which users - legitimate or not - starting with the least restrictive option first:

  • Staggered chicane - allows access to pedestrians, cyclists, horses, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, motorbikes - but not cars.

a chicane with gap oatridge college

  • Self closing gates - allows access to pedestrians, cyclists, horses, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, motorbikes - but not cars.

two way opening gate oatridge college

  • Kissing gates - allows access to pedestrians - but not cyclists, horses, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, motorbikes, cars.

large kissing gate oatridge college

  • Motorbike inhibitors - allows access to pedestrians, cyclists, smaller wheelchairs or mobility scooters - but not larger wheelchairs or mobility scooters, horses, motorbikes, cars.

motor bike barriers oatridge college

Find out more...

You will find a useful flowchart guide: 'Choosing the Least Restrictive Option' to thinking through the options here.

The access controls installed at the gate demonstration area will give you a good understanding of the various designs available. You will find more information about them in the demonstration path guide: icon The National Path Demonstration Site at Oatridge College. If you need more technical information about the access controls in the gate demonstration area, the websites of Centrewire Ltd (who supplied all the access controls on display at Oatridge College) and K Barriers (who supplied one of the motorbike inhibitors) have comprehensive details on all their products.

You may also like to look at the 'Countryside Access Design Guide', published by Scottish Natural Heritage. The Guide has drawings and specifications for various gate designs. It is available as an online version or as a PDF.

Also, take a look at 'A Guide to Controlling Access on Paths' published by Sustrans. This comprehensive design guide challenges the path designer to consider the real evidence of the need for access controls. As a starting point it considers alternative measures before taking you through the process of designing appropriate access controls, if that is what is required. The guide is available here.

© 2014 Paths for All - Registered Scottish Charity No: SC025535, Company Limited by Guarantee No: 168554 inc. 19 Sept 1996 at Companies House, Edinburgh