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.

‘The police have better things to do than’………

This is probably a phrase that many of us have used when we’ve heard about an incident which is either of no consequence to us or is one we regularly participate in but which is actually against some law or regulation.

So when we say it are we in reality saying ‘well I would break that law too’ or ‘that law should be abolished because I regularly break it’; is it actually simply an expression of our frustration or even selfishness? Let’s see what you think the Police ‘have better things to do than’ – here are 5 examples:-

Enforcing speed limits?
Stopping pavement parking by drivers?
Tackling cyclists who ride on pavements?
Prosecuting motorists with no Road Tax or insurance?
Fining people who break ‘lockdown’ rules?

I could go on, but I think you’ll have got my drift by now i.e. if we park on pavements we won’t want the police/local council to enforce the regulations on it will we? However, if we are a pedestrian/blind/disabled/or pushing a pram we probably will want them to. The same applies to the other ‘crimes’ I’ve listed and indeed potentially many that I’ve not.

In short we’ll often be affronted by the anti-social/criminal behaviours of others whilst conveniently ignoring our own less than community minded activities. Indeed, can we sit on both sides of the fence by for example grumbling about the vehicle on the pavement when we’ve had to step into the road to get around it whilst dumping our own car on any pavement available when we want to park close to the chippy, hairdressers, chemist etc. etc.? The answer, of course, is yes we can!

Oh and one final thing, why are many of the things we can react to in this way associated with travel and how we go about it?

Lydiate – That Coppull Road pavement or the lack of it

I blogged about the rather strange lack of a pavement on a part of Coppull Road in Lydiate not so long back. It’s opposite the junction with Barnes Drive and its been like this ever since the estate was built. My concern is pedestrian safety and you can access my original blog posting via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/05/07/lydiate-why-this-short-stretch-of-coppull-road-with-no-pavement/

The response from Sefton Council’s Highways Dept. was that due to financial cut-backs they no long have a budget to undertake such remedial works to address this short section of missing pavement. An unsurprising response which is very much of our austerity times sadly. I do have sympathy with the Council here by the way, as I realise how short of money they are.

Well at least I’ve put it on Sefton Council’s radar and lets hope that there’s no accident at this location before the money does become available to right a long-term pedestrian wrong.

Maghull – So what would we do if there was a plan to remove pedestrian bridges in Maghull as is planned just down the road in Netherton on the A5036?

This is one of those postings that I have been meaning to get around to for a while now because the issue was raised with me following the Champion newspaper article mentioned below. And no, before I start, I don’t have any inside information to say the Maghull footbridges are under threat.

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/would-you-prefer-cross-road-12619143

Firstly, the Liverpool Echo has the story of a proposal from Highways England (Previously known as the Highways Agency) to remove the pedestrian bridge over the A5036 adjacent to the the Park Lane/A5036 junction in Netherton – see link above.

The Aintree & Maghull Champion also covered this story in its edition of 8th February. A quote from Highways England in that articles says ‘Pedestrians & cyclists tell us they prefer road level crossings to bridges and underpasses’.

The Netherton footbridge is of a similar construction to the two pedestrian bridges on Northway in Maghull at the Hall Lane/A59 & Damfield Lane/A59 junctions but there is a difference. The difference is that the footbridges and indeed the Maghull A59 subway at The Square are controlled by Sefton Council not Highways England.

A59 footbridge at Damfield Lane, Maghull

The question I was asked was would it be reasonable to assume that Sefton Council may come up with similar removal proposals for Maghull’s two bridges in due course?

There’s no doubt that these bridges are a product of their time and modern bridges of this nature would be constructed differently to take account of disability access regulations – the steps on the ramps come to mind. What’s more the steps in the middle of the Damfield Lane bridge are extremely steep and I know some folks avoid using them. But the Maghull footbridges clearly serve a useful purpose as does the one at Park Lane Netherton because people do use them.

Steep middle steps to Damfield Lane/A59 footbridge.

Interacting with traffic on these busy fast flowing roads is dangerous so being able to use a footbridge strikes me as a sensible option for pedestrians. And let’s not forget that pedestrians/cyclists are the most important and most vulnerable things on our roads.

The Hall Lane/A59 junction is of course infamous for red jumping by northbound vehicle drivers, that’s why it has long had a red light camera on it. But surely, if there was no footbridge here, then the worry would be red light jumping vehicles and pedestrians colliding with horrible consequences.

The concern expressed to me was that at some point Sefton Council may say to Maghull folk ‘hey your footbridges over Northway are life expired and we want to put in Toucan crossings instead’ as Highways England have just done in Netherton. Frankly, I would have both footbridges and Toucan crossings as to me pedestrians/cyclists are king and Maghull is already badly split in two by the A59’s tarmac and steel barrier.

On the wider point of the A59 cutting Maghull in half, this is a serious issue. To my mind the free flowing of traffic along Northway has been achieved at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists. I have even heard folk call Northway – Maghull’s Berlin Wall.

I recall, some 10 years ago, that a gap in the central reservation crash barriers was closed up where the A59 crosses the Leeds Liverpool Canal. This means that those using the footpath out of the end of Avondale Avenue and up the steps onto Northway, which is used to connect with the path on the other side of the A59 that runs through St. Andrew’s Churchyard, has been made far more difficult unless you are prepared to hurdle central reservation crash barriers. My point being that the hurdling is done every day especially by school children! In other words the route is still being used but as well as having to look out for traffic you have to get over the barriers too. Clearly the interests of Maghull folk wanting to get from one side of the A59 to the other came secondary here to other highway priorities.

Underpass/Subway at the Northway/Eastway/Westway junction in Maghull.

It will be interesting to see whether when the two Maghull A59 footbridges become life expired Sefton Council follows suit with Highways England and proposes removal but that’s a challenge that has yet to be put before us and possibly it never will be?

With thanks to Keith for the lead to this posting