I really don’t like cycling on pavements

I’m a regular almost daily cyclist for fitness, shopping, and local visits for whatever within a few miles of where I live – Lydiate, Merseyside. You may therefore be surprised that I have some negative things to say about some of my fellow cyclists who use pavements to get around rather than being on the road where they belong. To me cycling on a pavement is dangerous for pedestrians especially when bike riders all but creep up on them from behind without even announcing they’re there as it’s uncool to have and to use a bell. It’s bad enough cyclists expecting pedestrians to move out of the way when they are cycling illegally and don’t have any right of way but when also scaring the elderly and people with disabilities out of their wits it’s nothing but utterly disgraceful.

You won’t be surprised that I take a similar view with vehicles parked on or driven on pavements as pavements are for pedestrians unless they have been designated as shared space with cyclists by a local council.

I was exchanging views recently with a Sefton Borough councillor on this matter and the following is a reply that Borough Councillor recently received to concerns he had raised on behalf of residents in his ward who, like me, want the police to put a stop to riding on pavements – The reply concerns Southport but clearly the police are making general, if not nationwide comments:-

‘Cycling on the pavement is an offence but we have to adapt a common sense approach. It has
been agreed nationally that momentary use of the footpath should not be construed to be an
offence. Also we have be mindful of the dangers certain roads also pose to cyclist.

Cycling on pavements is something that does get reported to us, particularly in the summer
months. In recent years we have seen a dramatic increase in cycling, partly due to the British
successes in major cycling events but also under the current COVID-19 restrictions as a
recognised way of keeping fit and safer travel.

We do however recognise that whilst there is a large majority of responsible cyclists, there are
those that do not abide by the rules and can pose a risk of injury to themselves and others.
They are often attracted by the wide pavements that exist in Southport and the reduced risk to
themselves from motor vehicles.

This is something that we discuss with the local Council and over the years there has been the
introduction of cycle lanes and pedestrian areas. These are designed to facilitate cyclists
around the town and protect them from increased motor vehicle traffic and reduce the impact
upon pedestrians. You will be aware of the recent introduction of more cycle lanes designed to
alleviate the problem and also the change in description regarding the Chapel Street area. This
formerly prohibited cycling but now contains a cycle lane and has adapted the “Share with Care”
approach.

We currently liaise with local cycling groups and Schools in an attempt to educate cyclists,
raising awareness of the consequences and also conduct spontaneous operations to tackle
these offenders. Some offenders are advised regarding their conduct and others are fined.
We will continue to address incidents of cycling on pavements when staffing and conflicting
demands allow but based upon the threat, harm and risk to the Community, combined with the
number of incidents reported it is not presently a priority.

What we are targeting is anti-social behaviour in the Town and this often includes inconsiderate
or even dangerous use of pedal cycles. We have dealt with a number of offenders through the
justice system under the anti-social issues rather than specific cycling alone. This is not always
visible to members of the public as it may be addressed by later prosecutions as attempting to
stop the cyclist there and then can further danger themselves and other pedestrians.

I must add that such enforcement also receives complaints due to an opposing view in favour of
the cyclist.’

When I first read the police view I must admit to thinking along the line of that’s a good politician’s response as it says a lot whilst not really addressing the fundamental issue i.e. the safety of pedestrians. However, on reflection I think there is some hope, if only a very small amount, that Merseyside Police do understand the issues whilst rarely having the spare resources to tackle those who put pedestrians at risk. It would be interesting to see some stats on police interaction with illegal cycling across Sefton Borough and indeed Merseyside as a whole as I have a horrible feeling that such interaction only really happens when a pedestrian has been injured by a reckless cyclist on a pavement.

Whatever we as cyclists and motorists (yes I’m a driver too) may think when we are in our own little world the fact is that the most important and vulnerable thing on our roads is the pedestrian, that’s why our bikes and vehicles should not be ridden, driven or in the case of vehicles parked on or across pavements.

Sadly, I have the feeling that with police resources being so stretched (although I bet they did little cycling intervention when they weren’t so stretched) that a significant minority of cyclists will continue to put pedestrians at risk and there’ll be no one to challenge such anti-social behaviour until a pedestrian gets injured.

2 thoughts on “I really don’t like cycling on pavements

  1. Bob Jungels says:

    What utter nonsense.
    Currently, approx 1 person per year is killed as a result of being struck by a bicycle. That’s 1 person too many, but the threat to society is so small (more chance of being struck by lighting – 2 people die per year in UK), how on earth can the police be expected to police this on a par with policing the real dangers to society? I.e. cars, trucks, motorbikes and vans.

    Unless you have any statistics to prove me wrong, I’d hazard a guess to say no more than 5 people have been killed by a bicycle in Merseyside over the past 50 years. It’s a guess, but it’s a well-informed one, and I’m throwing it out there for anyone to prove me wrong.

    Sticking with facts, what we *do* know is that two cyclists have been killed on our roads in the past 3 months within a 5 mile radius of Tony’s home in Lydiate.

    This is *real and present danger*. Not the odd teenage lad riding on a pavement.

    Let’s not forget, the most common complaint about cyclists by drivers is that they clog up the road and slow them down! Or they don’t use the cycle track next to the road! So what exactly do people want? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s a familiar old tale when it comes to what cycling ‘culture’ we have in this country.

    Getting back to facts, I’d love to know how many cyclists ride on the pavements – not just total numbers, but as a %, how many choose pavement over road. And then ask the question why?

    Is the pavement next to a main road, like Northway? Would you allow your 8 year child to ride along this 40/60mph dual/triple carriageway? Seriously? Would you be comfortable with your pensioner parent or grandparent riding along the same road? What do you say, Tony? Are you really so cold as to insist that an 8 year old child is committing a criminal offence because of riding their little bicycle on the pavement along Northway?

    To neglect these questions is to gloss over the fundamental issues at hand – we have roads that are too fast and too busy; and we *do not* have a cycle network fit for for purpose for a 12 year old child.

    Look at Switch Island. A stupid shared use path all the way down to Liverpool Road South that spits you out on to the road. What do you want a 12 year old to do here, Tony, if they want to get to Kenyons Lane in Lydiate? Stay on the dual carriageway all the way up past the Square? Or jump on to the 30mph Liverpool Road, with all the awkward junctions all the way up to Liverpool Road North?

    As an avid rambler/cyclist and someone spends every single Sunday walking and cycling in West Lancs and surrounding districts, I can honestly say – over the course a 3 or 4 hour walk/ride – I can count on one hand the number of cyclists I see riding on the pavement. Whether I’m in Sefton, South Ribble, Chorley, or as far away as Cockermouth, the notion that cyclists ride on the pavements is an urban myth – and even when true – the notion they present a danger to society is utterly laughable. Contemptible.

    So just remember, the next time you see a novice cyclist or young child riding on a pavement, ask yourself “why?” Why are they doing this? Where is the cycle infrastructure? Why isn’t the road safe enough? Maybe you can ask these people yourself, instead of writing incendiary articles online?

    P.S. I’m more than happy to walk round Maghull and Lydiate with you and count how many cars are parked on the pavement vs cyclists using the pavement. I’ll even produce a lovely big pie chart at the end of it. And then you’ll delete this blog. Sounds like a plan!

    • I’m not going to call your alternative view nonsense as I can see where you’re coming from. However, my still very strong view is that cyclists intimidate pedestrians on pavements when they (the cyclists) should not be there. To me that’s anti social behaviour and it needs to be challenged.

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