Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Cycling on Pavements.

Many of us are confused about the law and riding on the pavement.  We know it's against the law and yet we see it all the time.  It seems to me that enforcement of this law varies from town to town and city to city, so I went on a hunt for why there is such a grey area to this law.  Here is what I found.

On 1st August 1999, new legislation came into force to allow a fixed penalty notice to be served on anyone who is guilty of cycling on a footway. However the Home Office issued guidance on how the new legislation should be applied, indicating that they should only be used where a cyclist is riding in a manner that may endanger others. At the time Home Office Minister Paul Boateng issued a letter stating that:

"The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required."

Almost identical advice has since been issued by the Home Office with regards the use of fixed penalty notices by 'Community Support Officers' and wardens.

"CSOs and accredited persons will be accountable in the same way as police officers. They will be under the direction and control of the chief officer, supervised on a daily basis by the local community beat officer and will be subject to the same police complaints system. The Government have included provision in the Anti Social Behaviour Bill to enable CSOs and accredited persons to stop those cycling irresponsibly on the pavement in order to issue a fixed penalty notice.

I should stress that the issue is about inconsiderate cycling on the pavements. The new provisions are not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic, and who show consideration to other road users when doing so. Chief officers recognise that the fixed penalty needs to be used with a considerable degree of discretion and it cannot be issued to anyone under the age of 16. (Letter to Mr H. Peel from John Crozier of The Home Office, reference T5080/4, 23 February 2004)


  1. Well ... that leaves a lot to interpretation, doesn't it? Hope the officer is in a good mood! lol

  2. Yes it does. And as you say, a lot would depend on the officer's mood.

  3. It would depend on the officer, but I would also think that if there are no pedestrians around at all and you are not riding so fast that you couldn't stop if someone stepped out of a shop in front of you, then it would be hard for an officer to claim you were riding irresponsibly. But then again with no one else to see how you are riding, its a he said/she said moment.

    I do like that they've said that it can't be issued to anyone under 16 though which protects children and allows for them to ride safely away from the road.

  4. I think it's got to be a case of both cyclist and police using their common sense.

    For instance, nearly all use their cars the moment they leave their house no one walks any more, and therefore pavements can be totally empty along a really busy road. Cycling along those pavements are quite safe as long as if one does come across a pedestrian one slows down to walking speed, wait until said pedestrian sees you and then pass them slowly.

    If one is cycling along a really busy pedestrian area and at the same time a dangerously busy road then get off the bike and walk it as a pedestrian until it's safe once again to cycle on the road.

    Cyclists that ride between many pedestrians do need being pulled off and given a ticket. There is no excuse for it.

    One thing I hate and would never do myself is if when cycling on an empty pavement and coming across the odd walker is sounding the bell. I will never, ever ring my bell at a pedestrian when I am in their legal space.

    I hang behind at their pace and when they hear me or sense me behind them, they will always smile and move to one side for me. I always thank them for their trouble. Sounding a bell as much to say get out of my way, is rudeness at it's highest I think.

    A bell is for letting pedestrians know you are there if they are about to step into the road in front of you, not to tell them to move to one side on a pavement.

    I have never yet come across a pedestrian that has been stroppy or angry at me when passing them on a pavement. In fact I have had some great conversations with many of them as they admire my tricycle. But then I do ride at all times with respect for pedestrians in what is, after all, their legal area.


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