Police must change tack to allow responsible pavement cycling, argues the direct action campaign group Stop Killing Cyclists.

Although cycling on the pavement is against the law, guidance to police reissued this week by cycling minister Robert Goodwill states careful cycling on pavements due to fear of traffic should be allowed.

Stop Killing Cyclists feels this guidance is being “ignored” by the Metropolitan police, who last night agreed to meet the group to discuss pavement cycling and roads policing in London.

Stop Killing Cyclists co-founder, Donnachadh McCarthy, said: “We are pleased following yesterday’s media blitz about the sensible re-issued ministerial guidance on pavement cycling that the Met finally have agreed to meet Stop Killing Cyclists.

He added, however: “Their response appears to indicate that they are still intent on ignoring the guidance and fining responsible cyclists at lethal junctions like Vauxhall Gyratory. This is not acceptable.

“Forcing cyclists to chose between being in the path of lethal, blindly driven HGVs or empty pavements is endangering lives.

“It is time to end the persecution of victims.”

Meanwhile CTC’s Chris Peck said in London figures show that risk to pedestrians from cyclists is far lower than from motor vehicles. He also highlighted the importance of police – and PCSO – training on when it’s appropriate to penalise cyclists.

He said: “Where cyclists are using the footway, that should be an indication that the road environment needs to be fixed – with separated, on-carriageway cycle lanes preferably – to make it safe to cycle on.”

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “We are aware that some cyclists use pavements in particular areas because they believe this to be safer, however, cycling on the pavements can pose a threat to pedestrians and also to cyclists if they are subsequently re-entering a busy road at a point not designated for this.

“Issuing fixed penalty notices for this offence has been part of an overall programme to encourage mutual respect and consideration among different road user groups through law enforcement.

The original Home Office guidance from the then Home Office Minister, stated: “The introduction of the fixed penalty is 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 pavement users.

“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.”

In his letter to McCarthy, dated 9 January, cycling minister Robert Goodwill said: “I agree that the police should be using discretion in enforcing this law and would support Paul Boetang’s original guidance.”

  • Mark Syme

    If there’s actually any real intention to discourage cars in metropolitan areas – as opposed to just revenue raising – it makes sense designate road space for bikes rather than add pedestrians into the mix.

    Something needs to change and it would be nice if there was actually some thought and consultation in the process rather than another ad hoc band aid that provides lip services but no real benefit.

  • Bernard Knight

    “Now that fuel and insurance prices have risen, the roads are less crowded and it is easier to cycle.”

    I’d need to be pointed to some evidence for this statement as it sure as hell isn’t so here in Bristol.

  • Ken Evans

    There have been cycle lanes on foot paths in mainland Europe for many many years, when will Britain finally catch up ?? As cars have got faster, it has got more difficult for cyclists to fight for space on roads. Now that fuel and insurance prices have risen, the roads are less crowded and it is easier to cycle. For short trips a bicycle can be much more practical than a car, especially for parking. Cycling provides a good way for young people to learn about road use, before they start driving.

  • Robert

    Interesting how some replies here suggest that cycling on a footway is intrinsically dangerous to others. Obviously this is not the case, which is one reason shared use paths are so commonly used. In fact, it seems that ‘dangerous’ pavement cycling can be easily be eliminated simply by putting up a cycle route sign and calling the same path a ‘shared use’ facility! That aside, there can be no doubt that the FPN system has been abused wholesale by the police, ‘Community support officers’ and the like, who are looking to gain ‘brownie points’ from a public who see cyclists as being members of a low-status ‘out group’ to be punished wherever possible. For example, I have seen CSOs handing out fines to cyclists for riding on a deserted footway alongside a busy road when there wasn’t a pedestrian to be seen anywhere!

  • Mr D W Hughes

    I have been a cyclist most of my life 1946-2014 and have never felt the need to endanger the people who have need of the safety of the pavement the blind, disabled, elderly, and mothers
    with children.
    The cycling minister Robert Goodwill would better employing his time telling the police to keep
    motor vehicles from parking on the pavements. and respect the human rights of the less
    fortunate people mentioned above. It is a cruelty to deny them the respect they have a right
    to.

  • Pee Bee

    The crucial expression is responsible pavement cycling and therein lies the problem. How can this be defined and reasonably enforced? About 4 or 5 years ago I was almost knocked flying by a cyclist on a footpath which ran beside a busy main road in Eastbourne. I was exiting a driveway on foot and, as there were tall gate posts and hedges either side of the entrance, vision of the footpath being obscured. I am an avid cyclist so I have every sympathy with the dangers of cycling in urban areas. However, had the owner of the house been exiting by car, however slowly and carefully, the cyclist would have had a serious problem. However, just as in common with many cyclists I am a motorist, and by the same token I am like virtually every cyclist a pedestrian at times. Therefore as citizens we do not exist in watertight boxes as most of us are active in 2 or 3 camps being pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. However, the really sensitive bit is that, as in the case of the cyclist who nearly sent me flying on the pavement, there are many people who ride on the pavement who for want of a better terminology would not describe themselves as cyclists, but happen to ride a bike. Such was the case with the young man in this instance who in the process of missing me went over the handlebars and hurt his street cred. Furthermore such cyclists often have a transitory or infrequent relationship with cycling and are not really in the loop when it comes to initiatives such as this. To summarise, this is a group who currently have no respect for the law as it stands and by relaxing the law the situation might be worsened. A police blind eye moderated with discretion might be more desirable.

  • Rob

    Sounds like a good plan. I sometimes use the pavement when I don’t feel up to keeping up with the traffic. When I am on the pavement, I like to think I’m courteous of pedestrians and will always give them right of way and stop for them.

  • Robert

    Quote: ‘A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “Issuing fixed penalty notices for this offence has been part of an overall programme to encourage mutual respect and consideration among different road user groups through law enforcement.”‘…………………………..At last, an open admission that for years the police have been ignoring the Home Office guidelines on the use of FPNs for cycling on a footway. Of course, the police also choose to enforce they law as they think fit, rather than as the law intends, in other ways to. For example, the way they generally refuse to enforce the law with regards speeding unless the driver is going way over the actual legal limit……………………..The underlying problem is that, in both the case of ‘crackdowns’ on cycling on footways and when turning a blind eye to speeding by motorists, the police are effectively dancing to the tune of the nation’s ‘Daily Mail readers’. As such they are doing little little more than enforcing mob rule by proxy.