A PROPOSED cycle path through a much-loved woodland would bring cyclist and nature lovers into direct conflict it has been claimed this week.

Friends of Tregoniggie Woodland chair, Euan McPhee said the woodland is under threat from Cornwall Council by the proposed cycle way.

He said Tregoniggie Woodland is a haven of peace and home to a wide array of wildlife and is a key public open space and conservation area where local people walk and exercise their dogs.

“The proposed cycleway would bring cyclists and pedestrians into direct conflict” he said. “Many people who walk this woodland are elderly and unable to respond quickly to approaching cyclists.

"We have already had incidents of people being narrowly missed by cyclists. One of our committee members was actually physically assaulted by a cyclist who was showing little regard for the safety of other woodland users.”

Originally laid out by visionary local landscape gardener Don Hoyle, Tregoniggie Woodland is currently owned by Cornwall Council.

It is also a key component of the recently recognised Falmouth Green Corridor, linking natural areas between Bickland Water Road and Swanpool.

The Friends of Tregoniggie Woodland, who have been working in the woodland for the last seven years, have managed to bring much of the woodland back into good shape by carrying out many of the improvements that Cornwall Council have been unable to do due to funding cuts.

Recent work in the woodland under the Making Space for Nature project has led to the creation of new native wildflower meadows and native flowering bulb planting, some of which lie in the path of the proposed cycleway.

“There is an alternative route for the cycleway which would still fulfil the necessary connection between existing routes from Bickland Water Road to Shelburne Road, and on to Swanpool.” said Mr McPhee. “The cycleway could easily run from Bickland Water Road along Conway Road and Venton Road, where it would join the existing route on Shelburne Road.

"Whilst central Government has recognised the need for better provision for both cyclists and pedestrians, setting walkers and cyclists in conflict with each other serves the needs of neither group."

Since lockdown in March, the footfall in Tregoniggie Woodland has increased significantly with all the new housing developments going in near the woodland.

"That footfall will grow even more, increasing the likelihood of conflict between cyclists and walkers,” said Mr McPhee.

When the woodland was in the ownership of Carrick District Council, both horse riding and cycling were prohibited.

At a meeting of Falmouth town council’s planning meeting on Monday night councillors said they were opposed to the cycle path.

Responding to a letter from the friends, mayor Steve Eva said: “The Friends are totally against this and think it will become a BMX track and I tend to agree.

"It is a nice place to walk and the last thing you want is people speeding around there and jumping logs.”

Coun John Spargo asked if it wasn’t just a case of sharing the cycle path with pedestrians

But Coun Alan Jewell, who said he had a meeting with the council about the cycleway, believed some of the cyclists wouldn’t adhere to the rules. 

“I don’t think they are over the moon about this proposal,” he said.

Coun Roger Bonney said it would be a shame to open the woods up to cyclists, while Marcella Morgan, who said that she had lived near there for 40 years, pointed out you could not put bikes through the woods. “It’s supposed to be a woodland area and a natural one,” she said.

The Friends of Tregoniggie Woodland say they are firmly opposed to the cycleway proposal and is urging anyone who feels the same to object via the Cornwall Council consultation. 

The public has until January 3, 2021 to respond to the consultation on this proposal.