Police fine cyclists £30 and tell them to ride around killer Bow roundabout

A London cyclist has written to us to explain how she was fined £30 by police and ordered to ride around the Bow roundabout – a location where two cyclists have died in recent weeks – despite riding lawfully on a shared-use path.  

Riding home from work in late September, Camilla Swain was told she'd broken the law for riding on the pavement on the north side of Stratford High Street, even though the area where she was cycling is actually part of the Olympic Cycling and Walking Network.

On Transport for London's latest London Cycling Guide (part of which is reproduced above), the section of pavement between the Greenway and Marshgate Lane is shaded green, indicating cycling is permitted with priority for pedestrians.

This section of pavement was made shared-use by the Olympic Delivery Authority in order to maintain a safe north-south route after a section of the Greenway in the Olympic park was closed. 

Ms Swain said, "The police were waiting behind a pillar by the Porsche garage, and when I cycled past on the pavement they jumped out and fined me £30.

"I said it was too dangerous to cycle to the roundabout and back, and asked why there wasn't a safe cycle route.

"They had no response to that, but said it wasn't an excuse and that I'd be okay because I had a helmet.

"In the time I was there, three other cyclists were fined £30 each for riding in the same location.

"Now I cycle around the Bow roundabout every day; it's such a horrible road, and I really hate it."

LCC campaigns officer Charlie Lloyd said, "This is an example of extremely insensitive policing.

"We'll be contacting the Metropolitan Police Commander for Newham insisting cyclists are not fined in this location.

"There's also the wider issue of fining cyclists for pavement infringements when they're clearly trying to protect themselves from serious harm.

"Local cycle trainers have told us that even if it were illegal to ride there, which it isn't, they would cycle on the pavement rather than risk riding around Bow roundabout."

When police and community support officers were given the power to issue fixed penalty notices for pavement cycling, the Home Office assured Parliament that these powers "should only be used where a cyclist is riding in a manner that may endanger others."

Then Home Office Minister Paul Boateng wrote 'Chief Police Officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road – sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.'


I am quite amazed at this. Firstly if the section is indeed on an agreed shared cycle/pathway then the police should not have issued the fines anyway. Secondly I would like to know why Newham are taking this approach, I regularly meet with police officers and they gave me the same message riding on the pavement is generally tolerated as long as it is done in a considerate manner.

Why does Newham feel it needs to act in this way, I would like to know what they were trying to achieve with this action.

We are all upset by the deaths of two fellow cyclists at the Bow roundabout, and pressure is mounting from cyclists and non-cyclists alike for changes to this dangerous junction. It is vital that we remain focussed on this objective, and not lose public support by getting sidetracked onto the separate issue of footway cycling.

Four people received fixed penalty notices for cycling on the footway, not at Bow roundabout, but 300m further east adjacent to the Porsche garage. There is no signage to indicate that this location is a shared use pedestrian and cycle route; no circular blue signs showing a bicycle above two pedestrians. If we believe that shared use signs should have been erected when the Greenway route was diverted, then we need to direct our complaint to London Borough of Newham as the highway authority. We should not criticise the police for enforcing the restriction, we should use our voice to get signs put up to allow footway cycling where it is needed.

  • By smsm1 at 12:57am 17 November 2011

If it is a signed diversion, then I would assume that any pavement cycling restrictions would relaxed for the duration of the diversion.

  • By gedtwit at 10:09am 17 November 2011
As a local cyclist I share the upset caused by the two recent deaths at the Bow roundabout, but have to disagree with dominicfee that focussing on related issues is 'getting sidetracked'. Apart from the very personal individual tragedies for the cyclists killed, Bow is being seen as a microcosm for all that is wrong with tfl cycle planning and the disregard for cyclists safety. If the police contribute to this by needlessly enforcing laws when cyclists are taking responsibility for their own safety, then they certainly should be criticised and cyclists should use our voice to demand safe cycling in the whole area/city, not just one roundabout. I find it unbelievable that anyone could advise a cyclist to turn RIGHT at the junction, thus entering a lethal roundabout, rather than left for a hundred metres on a broad pavement, and like the cycle trainers quoted would risk riding on the pavement rather than my life.
  • By nigel at 11:16am 17 November 2011

Hi yes i was also fined £30 at the very same place and they used the very same tactics , i told the officer that i just came from Greenway wanting to pick it up on the other side heading Victoria Park al he would say was that very where operating A fine On The Spot policy so didn't matter what i said..it happened back in June. of this year.


i arrived about 15 minutes after the accident on Bow last Friday it was about 5pm..there was nothing anyone could do... it really upset me still to this day..

Tjwo Accidents in three weeks??? ,there is something very wrong down at Bow roundabout

Here are two emergency measures TFL ,and Newham can do today:..

1st they need to re-phaise the traffic lights drivers are jumping the lights so much it put's some cyclist to shame.

2nd they need put down some traffic cones as a temporay messaure beacuse it can happen again today

To take steps now means that cycles and predestrians can cross the roundaabout feeling a little bit more safe knowing that TFL and Newham are on the case ,right now there's a deep mist trust.

This post was edited by nigel at 11:33am 17 November 2011.

  • By cyberkev at 3:57pm 18 November 2011

I use this junction every day from Romford (The Stratford Direction) to the greenway and vica verca .

There is NO WAY I would pay a fine for cycling on the pavement here especially as it is 30 foot wide and I now carry a TFL map to prove the shared use diversion but as others have pointed out there needs to be a clearly signposted alternative while the greenway diversion is in place.

It is especially dangerous when crossing from the westbound carriageway From A11/Stratford High Street towards Pudding Mill Lane where you effectively have to cross 6 lanes of traffic to make a right turn with no access other than a section of barrier somebody has thankfully removed from the central reservation !

Thankfully at the time of day I cross the road there are gaps due to the traffic lights but this must be horrendous at busier periods.

Once again condolencies to the families of the cyclists further up on the roundabout.

  • By Amoeba at 5:19pm 18 November 2011

In 1999, Home Office Minister Paul Boateng issued a letter stating that:

“The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.”


Perhaps, it's time to carry a copy of this.


Perhaps LCC could obtain clarification and confirmation of this.

  • By JRok at 6:09pm 18 November 2011

It shouldn't be necessary to carry a TFL map or copy of Paul Boateng's letter and show it to police - they should know the contents already.  Can't we 1) flatly refuse to pay the fine, 2) produce the TFL map in court to show that no offence was being committed and Paul Boateng's letter to demonstrate the nefarious nature of the police action, 3) rehearse in court the circumstances of the deaths of the cyclists around the killer roundabout and charge the officer(s) concerned with a) harassment, b) fraudulent issue of fines, and c) deliberately or at least negligently endangering life by telling cyclists to go round the killer roundabout?

Before anyone acts on this idea, could a legally qualified person please explain whether one would succeed in this or not?

  • By PaulM at 7:56pm 18 November 2011

I'm not a lawyer but I think that yes, you can refuse to pay the fine - there is always the alternative with a fixed penalty notice (wicch is all the police are authorised to issue) of saying "see you in court". That is of course a risky strategy unles you are really sure of your ground. Simply relying on Paul Boateng's statement might not be enough to persuade the magistrate to let you off, and the court fine would be higher but if in fact the path is a lawful cycle route/shared path, then there would be no basis for a magistrate to issue a fine anyway.

Is there no basis for LCC to back appeals against FPNs in these circs? Could the individuals concerned appeal the FPNs, in the way so may motorists appeal parking fines?


  • By paul at 8:29pm 18 November 2011

If the footway is legally shared use there should be signs. If not the Local Authority has been negligent.

has anyone thought to organise a 'critical mass' 'protest' cycle ride along the stretch in dispute,with a refusal to use the Bow roundabout to further highlight how dangerous it is along with these tragic deaths,but also to challenge the poilice's irresponible actions & 'advice'.additionally,if legal advice shows we are  entitled to ride there & have a case,refuse to pay any fines on the disputed pathway

This post was edited by tony hurley at 8:51am 19 November 2011.

  • By snibgo at 1:16pm 19 November 2011

I'm not a lawyer.

I assume this is a footway alongside a road. Are there signs saying cycling is permitted? Is there a TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) in place allowing cycling? Someone can ask the appropriate London borough about a TRO. If the answers are "no, no" then I don't see what defense a cyclist has. A mark on a map means nothing legally. It might be an intention, a mistake, or a slip of the pen.

(Assuming the cyclists were showing proper courtesy to pedestrians, I am totally sympathetic to them, and deplore the police action coming so soon after the two deaths. It is insensitive, to say the least.)

See also discussions on this issue in the CTC forums: http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=57676 and http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=57753

  • By smsm1 at 2:51pm 27 November 2011

After looking at the junction, here's my thoughts on the junction: http://blog.shaunmcdonald.me.uk/2011/11/cycling-along-stratford-high-street/

  • By cycloron at 6:12pm 30 November 2011

Every day one sees cyclists going the wrong way up 1-way roads, cycling along pavements and jumping red lights, i.e. being generally lawless, arrogant twats.  Until these actions are rare events the great bulk of the public will applaud every punishment meted on the cycling community.  There are always alternative routes that allow one to avoid difficult roundabouts and other hazards that are taken as a justification for breaking the law by the pathetic idiots one meets riding on the pavement.  So you may have to go a bit out of your way, so what?

Cycloron, it's not a case of going out of your way a bit. I assume you've never gone down this stretch of road. It's a ride I used to do every day, and yes, I rode on the pavement for the 100 or so yards that the Greenway diversion lasts. It's not signed, but it is the 'official' Greenway diversion according to the map. I saw police there many times doing spot checks on cars etc, and I never got stopped - obviously those were the days that they weren't spot-fining cyclists (something that annoys me MASSIVELY about policing - if a crime is worth giving someone a fine for, it should be consistent).

My point is, don't just bemoan the behaviour of the 'pathetic idiots' as you call them. Yes, lots of cyclists break the law, but lots of cars do too (and plenty of pedestrians wander out in the middle of busy traffic as if they are invincible). Only today I saw a jeep run a red light while all the cyclists stopped and waited patiently at the junction. Anyway, that's not my point either. In this particular case, where cycling (legally) on a shared-use pavement to avoid a dangerous roundabout is entirely justified, don't patronise cyclists by saying 'there are always alternative routes...'. In this case, there aren't.

  • By cyberkev at 11:04am 12 January 2012

The police were there AGAIN this morning handing out fines to cyclists forced to use the diversion marked as shared use on all TFL cycling maps.

I asked the police officer if it was shared use and pointed out TFL say that it is and his reply was that until TFL put up one or 2 signs to mark is as shared use they will not treat it as such.

This is a very dangerous stretch of road 3 lanes wide and forcing cyclists to use the road when there is a 30 foot wide pavement is complete madness. Several cyclists have already lost thier lives here due to TFL's incompetence and the Police's inability to use common sense.

Something really needs to be done about this especially while the Greenway diversion is in place and I would like encourage people to report the problem to TFL and the Police to get the pavement marked correctly to tie up with the TFL cycling maps.


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  • By Kie7077 at 7:23pm 22 November 2013

“The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.”

Here's an idea: this snippet could be posted to every Chief of Police, and request that they remind their police officers of what the Home Secretary said.

That would free up the police to do something useful, like catch bike theives or deal with dangerous motor vehicle drivers.



Ps, the post above mine looks very spammy

This post was edited by Kie7077 at 7:37pm 22 November 2013.

  • By Tomm at 8:28pm 17 March 2015

This content was deleted by smsm1 at 11:40pm 12 April 2015.

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