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Friday, July 30, 1999 Published at 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK


Head to head: Cycling on the pavement

A new rule coming into force on 1 August will enable police to issue a £20 fixed penalty, like a parking fine, to anyone caught cycling on any area reserved for pedestrians.

Leslie Everest, spokesperson for the London Cycling Campaign, is opposed to the new fines.
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The London Cycling Campaign agrees with the government that cyclists belong on the road and not on the pavement. However, the new £20 spot fines for this offence will not on its own provide an answer to this problem.

Many cyclists who ride on the pavement do so because they are afraid to ride on the road, something the government itself has acknowledged.

In a letter to cycling MP Ben Bradshaw Home Office Minister Paul Boateng wrote "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."

The government must realise that fines are not enough to stop pavement cycling, conditions for cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users must be improved.

It is especially important that the roads feel safe to less confident riders, including the children and young people who make up the majority of pavement cyclists and who will not be covered by the spot fines.

Immediate measures that could make a dent in pavement cycling include good quality cycle lanes and better enforcement of 30mph urban speed limit.

If the government is really serious about making our roads safe for those not travelling by car it must go further again.

Road space must be reallocated in favour of cyclists and pedestrians and speed limits reduced to an enforced 20 mph. This will have the benefit of making our cities not only safer for all, but cleaner and more liveable.
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Ben Plowden, Director of the Pedestrians Association, supports fines for pavement cycling.
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It's hell being a cyclist. The danger of Britain's roads for cyclists is starkly revealed by the annual toll of cyclist death and injuries. But it's also hell being a pedestrian. The fact that roads are so dangerous means pedestrians should be, and feel, fully secure on pavements.

Pavement cycling is illegal. It's a problem because it is an intrusion by wheeled vehicles into a space pedestrians feel is theirs. And pavement cycling is a problem.

It's the Pedestrians Association number one postbag issue. For many pedestrians, pavement cycling is an irritation or a severe irritation. But for some, pavement cycling represents a serious threat.

Recent RNIB research found that over 75% of blind and partially-sighted people who go out alone regard pavement cycling as a real problem. Similar problems face people with hearing difficulties, people unsteady on their feet or parents with small children. Anyone, in fact, whose mobility or confidence is limited in any way.

Pedestrians may be more likely to be killed or severely injured if struck by a car than by a bicyle. But this is not really the point. The RNIB's research suggests fear caused by pavement cycling may deter some people from leaving home on foot.

The Pedestrians Association therefore supports the introduction of £20 fines for pavement cycling.

We also want dangerous drivers stopped and prosecuted: councils should provide safe cycle tracks in the road.

Otherwise, pedestrians will go on paying the price for politicians' failure to make roads safe for cyclists. This is a poor deal.
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