TRANSPORT campaigners staged a protest in Stourbridge to encourage more cycling on canal towpaths and disused railway tracks.

Stourbridge Bicycle User Group (Stourbug) and Dudley Friends of the Earth say the routes are safe, fun places to cycle - but many people are prevented by barriers designed to stop motorbikers.

The protest on September 27 involved nearly 40 cyclists and it comes as the borough launches a £4.5m bid to combat its growing obesity problem - partly by encouraging more people to cycle.

Guy Sheppard, Dudley Friends of the Earth spokesman, says the barriers are sometimes so badly designed that bikes will not go through them, forcing cyclists to lift them over.

He said: “That’s not an option if you are a child or physically unfit. If Dudley wins this bid, it will be a golden opportunity to open up the off-road cycle network to lots more people by removing the barriers altogether or making them more user-friendly.”

Russell Eden, Stourbug founder, said the mile-long towpath between Stourbridge and Wordsley has six barriers along the short route and it is generally avoided by cyclists despite being one of Dudley Council’s primary cycle routes.

He said: “I'm not convinced motorbikes on the towpath are any more prevalent than elephants in my garden.

“It's just not right to deny access to a majority with legitimate access because of a minority without it."