Should Cyclists Be Able To Use Pavements On Dangerous Roads?

Transport Minister Urges Police Not To Fine All Cyclists Who Use Pavements On Hazardous Routes


Cyclists who are worried about their safety should not be penalised for using pavements, transport minister Robert Goodwill has suggested.

In a statement reported by the Daily Telegraph, he said police officers should use their discretion when handing out fines to bikers.

His comments come shortly after senior figures at the Metropolitan Police Service confirmed that a large number of cyclists were given fixed penalties for riding on the pavement during Operation Safeway.

The campaign was launched in November following a spate of cyclist fatalities in London and has been hailed as a success.

Concluding on 10 January, the operation resulted in a combined total of 14,409 Fixed Penalty Notices and reports for summons being handed out to motorists and cyclists over a seven-week period.

The force confirmed that cyclists accounted for 4,269 of these cases, with more than 1,000 fines being attributed specifically to people who used their bikes on public footways. The penalty for using a pavement was recently increased to £50.

Mr Goodwill thinks it is harsh to punish cyclists in this way and he pointed towards guidelines drawn up in 1999, which suggested fines should not be given to responsible cyclists who are doing their best to remain safe.

He was quoted as saying: "Enforcement is a matter for the police but we endorse their approach of showing discretion in instances where a cyclist is using the pavement alongside a dangerous section of road out of fear of the traffic, but is being mindful to not put pedestrians at risk."

The Association of Chief Police Officers has responded to Mr Goodwill's comments, with Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom - national policing lead for cycling - stating that he welcomes the minister's new guidelines, although this issue varies depending on local circumstances.
"London's roads present unique challenges... therefore their approach may vary from other areas of the country," he remarked.

Expert Opinion
This issue demonstrates how it can be difficult to enforce a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the issue of road safety and when certain behaviour should or should not be allowed.

"Safety should always come first and, considering some of the cycling deaths and injuries in London in recent weeks, it is understandable that some cyclists may feel safer in using pavements close to particularly dangerous junctions or routes.

"However, they then of course have a responsibility to ensure they are vigilant in terms of using the pavement without causing problems for pedestrians.

"It is important that this issue is looked at closely to identify if a consistent and fair approach can be found which benefits drivers, cyclists and pedestrians."
Stephen Nye, Partner