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.

Cycling – Bad drivers & poor dog owners

Did you know that the new Highway Code is likely to say that a driver should leave 1.5m between their vehicle and a cyclist when overtaking and that the Police may well be encouraged to take drivers to task, even penalise them, for not adhering to this change?

The change is coming about because a small minority of drivers are putting cyclists at risk by passing far too close when overtaking. Most drivers pass well away from cyclists but some don’t care and pass cyclists in a very dangerous way. I’ve had a couple of bad experiences recently when cycling and oddly both were on Winifred Lane in Aughton, the latest one being a few days ago. This later time the vehicle was identifiable so I’ve contacted the firm (name not mentioned here) concerned asking them to speak to their driver:-

‘I was cycling on Winfred Lane in Aughton around 12.20 today when one of your vehicles nearly had me off my bike by passing far too close to me.

I could tell what was going to happen as the driver made little or no attempt to slow down as they tried to squeeze between me and a parked lorry on the other side of the road.

The new Highway Code says that vehicles should pass leaving 1.5m between them and a cyclist, I doubt there was 6 inches in this encounter! Can you please identify your driver and have words with them. I look forward to your reply.’

Here’s a link to a recent newspaper article about overtaking a cyclist and the changes coming to the Highway Code:-

www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/overtaking-cyclists-mots-the-law-1944067

The other big danger to cyclists are dogs. On the amusing side of things I’ve been told by owners ‘he does not like hats’, ‘he does not like cyclists’, ‘he does not like bright colours’ etc. etc. as though training their dog is something they’ve just never thought of. But joking aside passing a dog and dog walker when the dog is on one of those extendable leads is an art form as you have to try to guess what the dog will do i.e. which way it will run and how far. This is an issue you don’t even need to think about when a dog is on a traditional lead as they can’t move very far in any direction. The problem is most obvious on pedestrian and cycling ‘shared space’ routes

And before you ask yes I’ve been chased by a dog whilst cycling but fortunately, I managed to outpace it, so I’m yet to have an accident or be bitten by a dog whilst cycling. However, I have been bitten by one whilst a pedestrian. That ended up in court and the person responsible for the dog got a £300+ fine if I recall correctly. It happened a few years back in Thornton. My advice to anyone who has an unfortunate dog encounter is to report it to Sefton Council’s Dog Warden, that’s how my case got taken to court.

Chester the Chocolate Lab

Oh and before you think I’m a dog hater, no I’m not. Chester, a friend’s Chocolate Lab’, is my best doggy chum and yes our family has in the past had a dog. To be honest the dog is never the problem it’s the owners who don’t train them whilst treating them like children who can do no wrong. Dogs are pack animals and need to know where they stand. If you treat them like they are the top dog that is how they will act making your and other folks lives a misery in the process often.

* Thanks to ukcyclelaws blogspot for the graphic above