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June 27, 2005 12:01 AM

Broken: Thames Path sign

LockedDave Lawrence writes:

Here's a picture of a gate on the "Thames Path" (long distance trail along the side of the River Thames). A large, locked padlock can clearly be seen on the left along with a label saying the gate isn't locked! (it goes on to say that the gate is only for wheelchair access and I guess a 'radar key' is maybe some special skeleton key. They're trying to keep horses and probably motorbikes out)


First post!

that might not be broken, if you knew what a radar key was

Posted by: dont start the "this isnt broken" at June 27, 2005 12:24 AM

A radar key is a mass produced standard key that ill fit many locks. It's basically a short tube with a little protrusion on the outside.

Posted by: T-1000 at June 27, 2005 01:22 AM

A RADAR key is a standard key used by the disabled. Usually used for access to public toilets and other places where a door needs to be closed but not restricting access. This pathway will also have a stile allowing more agile people to climb over. This sort of thing is regularly seen on country walks in the UK. RADAR = Royal Association for the Disabled and Rehabilitation.

Posted by: Steve at June 27, 2005 02:47 AM

An identical sign can be found at Iffley Lock, Oxford. This gate is of the 'kissing gate' design ( ), and the central swinging gate is not bolted to either of the posts it 'kisses'. It cannot be bolted to them because of the lock preventing it from doing so.

There is no stile on the Iffley Lock gate.

However: the Iffley gate has been deployed on NCN [National Cycle Network] 5, which shares space with the Thames Path at this point. The design of the gate makes it nearly impossible to use a tandem or a recumbent bicycle here, and difficult to use even a conventionally frames bike. So there's some breakage for you.

I suppose the padlock approach does give RADAR key owners the opportunity to lock the gate and create an even greater nuisance if they wish, though.

Posted by: Andrewc at June 27, 2005 06:37 AM

Clearly, that's not a padlock.

Posted by: Andrewc at June 27, 2005 06:48 AM

After much hiking in England, I think I can explain what's going on here.

This path is open to the public for foot traffic only, so that you can't take bikes, motorcycles or horses this way. But they do want to provide access for the disabled, hence the radar key. So the gate is designed that anyone who is able-bodied can just climb over.

Here's a low-tech example I saw in Dartmoor, Devon, UK, which does not cater to the disabled (but does allow your trusty hound to pass!)

Posted by: Robby Slaughter at June 27, 2005 09:01 AM

That's interesting, i've never seen anything like it before. I've also never been to England, so there you go. Here in Florida they use concrete posts sticking out of the ground, to close together for cars, wide enough for people & wheelchairs.

Posted by: Bob at June 27, 2005 09:21 AM

I meant 'too'.

Posted by: Bob at June 27, 2005 09:21 AM

The comment posted at 06:48 AM is not mine.

I've just checked, and the lock on the one I know of is indeed a padlock, albeit one partially enclosed in a little box. The bolt it locks in place shoots not into the gatepost, but under a gravity latch. Unlock the padlock with your RADAR key, and it is possible to withdraw the bolt from under the latch.

It's not possible for RADAR key users to lock the gate in a way that would prevent other users from using it, so I'm sorry if I passed comment unduly. I still maintain that the (recently introduced) gate is an annoyance to cyclists though.

I'm a newbie to disability issues, so help me out here. After a bit of puzzling, I figured out that the downwards/across movement to withdraw the bolt might be easier for someone with limited hand/arm mobility than the upwards/push combination needed to lift the latch and swing the gate. It's still necessary to fiddle with keys and locks beforehand though; so I don't see where the gain in actual accessibility for the disabled lies in this specific case.

Posted by: Andrewc at June 27, 2005 09:40 AM

There's a bit about RADAR keys here:

And BTW, could we knock off the "first post!" nonsense? Probably fun for the poster, but broken for the rest of us...

Posted by: James Kew at June 27, 2005 02:00 PM

"Padlock for wheelchair access only"...

Well, duh, they don't want cripples on their trails!

Posted by: no one at June 27, 2005 05:18 PM

Definately not a padlock.

Posted by: friendlydrbobo at June 28, 2005 11:16 AM

Definately not a padlock.

Posted by: friendlydrbobo at June 28, 2005 11:17 AM

So as I understand it: People agile enough to walk the trail can climb over the gate used to stop cyclists and horses from entering trail. Wheelchair users can use their key to get past the gate. but if agile people can get over the gate couldn't horses get over it?

(I think the lock looks enough like a padlock to be called that.)

Posted by: Timm at December 1, 2005 06:13 AM

The sign means, "The locked gate does not mean that the trail is closed."

Posted by: Timm at December 1, 2005 11:16 PM

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