Monday, 5 November 2012

Rule 64: You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement

Back in 1931 (correct me if I'm wrong on that date) when the highway code was first published, rule 64  "You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement" made perfect sense.

In 1931 everyone walked.  Our pavements were crowded with people walking to work, walking to the shops, walking to visit friends and relations, kids were on the pavements playing marbles, conkers, skipping, hopscotch and much more.  It would have been insanity not to have a law that protected pedestrians as rule 64 did.

In 1931 very few cars were sharing the roads with cyclists.  Cars did not travel at the speeds that they do now and motorists were far more conscious of sharing the road.   On top of which, roads had been originally designed and created for the bicycle.  It was logical that a government wouldn't go to all that expense creating roads for the cyclist not to make them mandatory.

In 1931 a cyclist's thoughts when starting out on his journey wouldn't have been about safety.  Wouldn't have been about planning his journey in advance for the quietest and safest of routes.  Wouldn't have been about making the choice of wearing a helmet, or wearing hi viz clothing.  He would have slapped his cap on his head, wheeled his bike out of doors and ridden to work.  His only planning for his ride would have been to remember to take his lunch box, and bike lights if he knew he was coming home after dark.

Back in 1931 rule 64 was protecting the majority of vulnerable people.  It made perfect sense and no one questioned it.  No one even thought about it.   No one wanted or needed to cycle on a pavement.  Why would they?  The roads in 1931 weren't killing and injuring hundreds of cyclists a year.

Forward to 2012 and we have a very different society.  A society where a law written in 1931 now adds to the death of many cyclists.   Rule 64 has now become lethal.

In 2012 no one walks anywhere.  In most parts of the country (excluding city and town centres obviously) pavements are deserted.   There are no children playing on the paths.  There are few people walking to the shops, walking to visit their friends and relations or walking to work.  Pavements now are totally under used.  Society has changed so much that in most parts of the country pavements are only serving as a space between driveway and road, with the occasional pedestrian needing to use it for a short distance.  Now it is perfectly safe to allow cyclists, if they wish, to ride on all pavements unless stated otherwise when in high pedestrianised areas.

In 2012 roads have now been so widened, are so fast and so congested that it's insanity to expect anyone not encased in a metal box to be anywhere but on a pavement.  Even our residential roads where children used to play happily and safely are now full of parked cars and motorists using them as short cuts at speeds that will kill or maime.

In 2012 cars have become so very safe for the driver and his passengers that they have become even more lethal for anyone on foot or cycle.  The safer the motorised vehicle has become the more daring and dangerous the driving.  Is it any wonder that the majority of people feel it's too dangerous to cycle on our roads.

Once upon a time it was illegal to shoot the kings deer.  Was that law moral and just in a time when thousands of peasants were dying of hunger?  No! of course it wasn't.  No more than it is moral or just to force nervous, young or elderly cyclists out into the path of killing machines today.

In the cities it maybe that more young, healthy fit males are taking to commuting by bike,  but here in the country and quieter towns it's the elderly and the families that are taking to their bikes because they are willing to risk breaking the law and pavement cycle.

Every day hundreds of normally law abiding people are breaking the law and risking fining or court simply because they can't (not wont) cycle in amongst the traffic of today.  For many it's a choice of breaking the law or of not cycling at all.  And illegal or not, pavement cycling is getting more and more people on their bikes.

Until this country builds a real, safe, Dutch style infrastructure, rule 64 needs removing from The Highway Code and in it's place pavement cycling etiquette rules written.  People should be given a legal choice of whether to cycle on road or pavement until cyclists have a place of their own within our infrastructure.


  1. I thought the reason it was illegal to ride on the pavement is you might scratch the cars parked on it.


    1. Oh my! I really did laugh out loud at that. You are so right. It's unbelievable how many pavement park. Many leaving no room even for a buggy, wheel chair or mobility scooter to get passed.

      It's an epidemic in my area and I haven't once seen a ticket on any vehicle. The police totally and completely ignore pavement parking.

  2. As an occasional cyclist, I do think it makes sense to ride on the pavement in certain circumstances. However, there are a lot of issues I think that you need to think through. For example, reversing a car out of a driveway in a residential area is tricky because you have to watch carefully for pedestrians. With cyclists scooting along the pavement at much greater speeds, it could be lethal, even with the car driver paying maximum attention due to the limits of visibility. Similarly, my brother lives on a street where the front doors open directly onto the footpath. You should be able to step out of your own front door without worrying about getting knocked onto your face by a cyclist passing inches from your door.

    1. The majority of pavement cycling occurs along side fast roads, not on quiet residential streets where people feel confident and safe cycling on the road.

      I do agree with you when you say one should be able to step out of their front door without having to look out for cyclists. But equally I don't believe that vulnerable cyclists should be sharing the road with speeding traffic.

      Ideally we would have segregated cycle paths in this country as they have in other European countries. This we haven't got and it will be years before we do have it. Therefore we have to have safer alternatives to sharing dangerous fast roads with motorised vehicles.

      We now have hundreds of legal shared pedestrian/cycle pavements that are working without hundreds of pedestrians being killed or seriously injured by cyclists as there are hundreds of cyclists being killed and seriously injured on our roads every year.

      Local councils are now not only deeming our pavements safe to share, but also that it is safer to pavement cycle than road cycle, which also leans towards proving that rule 64 is outdated and dangerous.

  3. I don't know where you live, but have you thought about having some training by a Bikeability instructor? They can give you principles and ideas that can make it far safer to ride on the road. Where I live many women and non lycra blokes cycle on the roads. Pavements are for pedestrians!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Bike Cat. I do however think you have missed the point of my post.

      Bikeability teaches us to vehicular cycle, which is all fine and good if one wants to ride along side traffic. I doubt though that many parents would allow their 7 or 8 year old to ride on fast roads with heavy duty vehicles and cars and children that age are being taught bikeability.

      I am not a car, and I refuse to cycle as if I were a car. Yes pavements are for pedestrians, but equally roads are only suitable for motorised vehicles and not for cycles.

      Bikeability is no guarantee that one will be safe. Bikeability will not guarantee that we wont be overtaken dangerously, or that we wont be killed or maimed by a motorist that was texting, phoning, drunk, or just simply don't see us.

      Until we are given real safe infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists and motorist all of equal importance, then each of us have a right to protect ourselves to the best of our ability. If that includes cycling sensibly on pavements then that is what we need to do.

      Less people will be harmed by cycles sharing with pedestrians, than cycles sharing with cars, lorries, buses and taxis.

  4. The timing of your post is interesting, as I was thinking of commenting on a recent post by Mark of aseasyasriding.. about the TfL consultation on the A24 in Morden, London, where the proposals involve converting some footways to shared use.

    Mark is clearly opposed to this aspect of the A24 proposal and if you look at his comprehensive photographic tour you can certainly see some reasons for why – lack of continuity, narrowness, and obstructions such as lampposts and telecoms junction boxes which spring up on our footways like mushrooms.

    What his photos also show however – and I may be doing a disservice here because the time of day will have an influence – is that there are very few pedestrians indeed on the footways concerned. You could almost redesignate them as cycle paths and accept that pedestrians will from time to time walk on them because you can’t actually forbid them to do so and they would obviously prefer to walk on a cycle path rather than on a busy road (despite what the disgusted of Tunbridge Wells types rant about “dangerous cyclists”.)

    Speaking more generally, so as not to make a false assumption about a place I don’t know, I can certainly think of many places where footways experience nil, or very nearly nil, pedestrian traffic. Stretches of the A3 dual carriageway in Surrey and Hampshire for example have footways alongside, usually separated from traffic by ~60cm of gutter strip (outside the solid white line), a kerb, then another 60cm or more of grass. A standard of separation which might not satisfy the Dutch, but would probably satisfy the Danes who are after all the number 2 successful cycling nation.

    These footways have no pedestrians because they don’t take them from anywhere to anywhere – or at any rate “A” is not an acceptable walking distance from “B”. Possibly they were originally made because motorists needed a safe means to walk from a breakdown to find a phone, but that really doesn’t pertain today. Otherwise, if they are more than a mile long they won’t see significant walking traffic.

    But, of course, as you can ride a bike without breaking sweat at perhaps 3-4 times walking pace, the point distances immediately shrink sharply as soon as you admit bicycles to them. On the A3 north of Hindhead for example there is a footway alongside which is 3km in length which would permit a cycle link – not a very good one but certainly preferable to riding on the road – between the village of Thursley and two places of interest to its residents – a railway station (<3 miles) and the town of Godalming (4 miles). As a link in a network, it would permit residents of Godalming, or leisure cycling visitors arriving from London by train, to access a bracelet of heaths and commons which are an off-road cyclists heaven.

    I can think of many other examples of shared use paths which have been designed and built as such, to quite acceptable standards of width, surface, continuity, and lack of obstructions, where their appeal as pedestrian links is limited but as a result they work well for cyclists, for example as safe routes to a secondary school.

    While I deplore the CTC/DfT “hierarchy of provision” in most of its respects, especially that it totally excludes dedicated off-road cycle path, I question their placing shared use lowest because while clearly there are plenty of such facilities of poor quality, it really doesn’t have to be that way and I suspect that good examples get rejected with the bad.

    1. Thanks so much Paul for not only taking the time to read my post but for putting so much into your answer to it.

      I am so pleased to read that someone else can see passed the "pavement cycling is dangerous" to how many of our pavements with a little money and maintenance could be put to good use, and even as you say, turned into real segregated cycle paths.

      Our Dorset council, as other councils have, have turned many of our pavements into shared pedestrian/cycle paths. This started just over 2 years ago.

      I was thrilled to bits to see at least some effort had been made my end of the borough to make my 5 mile journey into town safer, albeit much slower, by getting me off of the main fast A35 which also included a duel carriage way bypass.

      Now, if the council had chosen to go 2 steps further and spent a little more cash, that shared path could actually be almost called a Dutch style segregation cycle path.

      Step one: Maintenance. Simply cutting back the hedges and foliage where nature has been taking back her own due to the pathways lack of use over the years. This would make the path wider. At the moment it's dangerously narrow for a two way cycle path, due to the fact that one is being smacked in the face or having hands scraped by branches.

      Step two: Giving priority to the "cycle path" over the residential side roads instead of vice versa.

      I am sure that most fast A roads and through roads have pavements that could make perfectly good shared cycle paths without causing any problems for the odd pedestrian that might use them. Unfortunately because of rule 64 we are unable to legally make the choice of keeping ourselves safe by using an otherwise unused pavement unless said pavement has been specifically chosen by local council for shared use.

      We really do need a legal safe choice for using cycles for transport until we have a real infrastructure that caters for all equally. I can only see that pavement cycling logically can be that choice.

      If our government really do want those from 8 to 80 on their bikes as soon as possible, then pavement cycling is going to have to become more socially acceptable.

  5. But according to

    "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."

    (read the whole article, there's a lot more to it, my interpretation is that the police have been instructed only to take action in cases where cycling on the pavement is dangerous/inconsiderate and not when it's done responsibly by cyclists out of fear from the traffic)

  6. Absolutely! You are correct and the police and PCSO's do follow this Home Office advice. This is yet another reason why the rule 64 is totally obsolete in this day and age.

    The problem we have with the advice given by the Home Office, is that it is only advice. We cycle the pavements at the whim of the mood of any official. At all times we are aware that we can be stopped, and at the very least forced onto a fast moving road even if we aren't fined at that particular time.

    We now have councils saying that they are going to crack down on pavement cycling. That may not mean fines but it does mean that people are being pushed out onto dangerous roads or (as was that disabled tricyclist only a few weeks ago)being forced to get off and walk.

    If councils are only cracking down on true antisocial cycling, as in dangerous, then all well and good, but if councils, when they state they are cracking down on antisocial cycling, mean "all" pavement cycling is antisocial, then they are ignoring the Home Office advice.

    The more one thinks about rule 64 the more ridiculous it is proved to be.

    1) The Home Office states not to stop or fine those cycling safely.

    2) Councils themselves are turning more and more pavements into share spaces.

    3) All over the country a specific types of cyclists (as am I) are defying rule 64 and cycling on pavements anyway making a fool of the rule.

    Removing rule 64 and replacing it with a code of conduct and rules of etiquette will still give power to the police and any other official to stop and ticket those pavement cycling antisocially.

  7. What about disability scooters? They use the pavement and some travel at 15 mph, that's faster thang average cycle speed on the road! There is a chap along my road who regularly goes along outside my house. Now should he be stopped as heis travelling at too fast a speed? IMHO those cycling at a sensible speed, with care and consideration should be allowed on the pavement .
    On one track near us, we took matters into our own hands and went and cut back the foliage as it had overgrown the path so much , it had narrowed to the point that we had on a lot of occasions , nearly had collisions with other cyclists. People were actually thanking us for doing it!
    Brenda in the Boro

    1. Dear anonymous/Brenda (?) I don't think you have that right. There are three classes of mobility scooters, the fastest of which are governed to 8mph, and are permitted to use the roads. Other classes are governed to 6mph and 4mph and the latter (not sure about the 6mph) are supposed to stick withthe footway.

      However it is probably fair to say that a 8mph mobility scooter would have much the same momentum as a cyc;ist travelling up to about twice that speed, because they are really quite chunky - much heavier and bigger than a 4mph scooter. The speed in a collision is not really the problem, it is the momentum which does the damage so a slow-moving car would do more damage than a scooter going at full tilt which is more than a cyclist going even faster.

    2. Maybe I have got that speed wrong but I can assure you if you are hit when this guy is going at full tilt , it will damage you. It has happened round here. The scooter in question is one of those big chunky ones. I personally do cycle on roads quite hdppoly most of the time but there are occasionally times when cycling on the virtually unused pavement makes sense in terms of safety. Those who are new to cycling really need to feel safe.
      I have to use the anonymous option because I cannot sign in with my Wordpress account.
      Brenda in the Boro

    3. We have 4, 6, and 8 mph scooters here. The larger have to be registered but are tax exempt obviously. They are all allowed on the pavement but the 6 and 8 have a switch that will restrict them to 4mph when on the pavement. By law they have to use this.

      They don't however always restrict themselves to 4mph on pavements.

      It is my experience that the risk of being harmed on our pavements comes more from mobility scooters than cyclists.

      Cycles are more agile when overtaking a pedestrian, and a cyclist is in far more control than many driving mobility scooters.

      Once again it also comes down to attitude. Many elderly (not all obviously) do tend to think "I'm old, I'm disabled, get out of my way". They don't even attempt to go around one but expect to always ride/drive in a straight line.

      I have been knocked on my backside once with a scooter and had it run over my ankle. It wasn't comfortable I can tell you. I have also had to literally jump out of the way of one on more than one occasion.

      I can honestly say that only once has a cyclist ever made me jump as a pedestrian, the little bugger, both he and I had cross the Zebra together with him slightly behind me and he cut me up as my feet landed on the pavement the other side.

      Cycles are no more dangerous on pavements than mobility scooters. Mobility scooters are actually ridden in heavy pedestrianised areas, whereas even pavement cyclists dismount and walk where the pavement is thick with walkers.

      Scooters are restricted by law to 4 mph, therefore cycles could also be restricted to 4mph in specifically chosen areas where it would be dangerous to go any faster and "no cycling" on pavements in town centres.

      At the moment when I pavement cycle illegally I restrict myself to 5 mph, even though I never pass a pedestrian because I am on heavy, fast main roads. On pavements here that councils have deemed suitable as shared use, one can't go any faster than 8pmh anyway because of the appalling state of the paths and of course the fact that one has to give way at all side roads.

  8. In Perth (Oz) we have a lot of pathways along major roads that are classified as PSP's (principal shared pathways) that are for bicycles and pedestrians to legally share. It does mean you often need to have a cycle map to clarify if a path is a PSP or just a really good "sidewalk". However, up to a certain age (I think it might be 12, but, don't quote me), children are allowed to ride on any footpath, even those for pedestrians only. I think this is a great compromise and heading in the right direction, although, it doesn't help mum or dad if they want to cycle with the kids.

    To be honest the police tend to turn a blind eye to footpath cycling as long as it's of moderate speed and considerate. I wouldn't want to hit the sidewalk in Lycra anytime soon though. :-)

    1. Same here BB, with both the police turning a blind eye and the fact that with our shared peds/cycle paths it's so often hard to see where they begin and end.

      Here in the UK an under 16 year old (school age) can't be given a ticket/fine, but of course can be told to get off and walk or forced into the road.

      Our rule 64 means that it's literally against the law for even a 2 year old to be cycling on the pavements. See how ridiculous the law is?

  9. Hmm, some ancient bylaws need updating obviously! Here in Vancouver, Canada, our Mayor is very bike-happy. He has made bike lanes a big topic in the news to the joy of many cyclists, and to the dismay of many drivers. Personally, I think it's good and bad, but we all need to learn to share the roads.
    At first, when I read your title, I thought about biking along the trails...which I love! I miss mountain biking!
    Take care, ride safe!

  10. I ride my bike on the sidewalk only because riding the bike in traffic is just as suicidal as riding your bike in the bicycle lane out here.

    The drivers of vehicles are either oblivious to cyclists or don't care or both, I've been hit countless of times and learn by the third hit also goes without saying for pedestrians on foot as well.

    These drivers are reckless and I am not messing with them, they're surrounded by metal and plastic, I'm not.

    Maybe there's respectable drivers in other countries but, I know it isn't here. lol

  11. all scooters and cycles should have number plates so they can be identified when there is an accident

  12. If riders are riding cycles on pavment so t will be create lots problem for walker and might be the collision with any foot walker would be possible and it's turn to serious injuries, Cyclers has to follow all cycling particular rules to avoid any harm incidents.


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