Minister for Cycling clarifies pavement cycling advice after 1057 fines in London

Robert Goodwill, Minister for Cycling

After the Met Police's seven-week Operation Safeway to reduce lawless behaviour on the roads led to 1057 cyclists being issued with fixed penalty notices for pavement cycling the Minister for Cycling Robert Goodwill has confirmed the long standing advice about when fines should and should not be issued. Many of the cyclists fined during Operation Safeway feel aggrieved that they were fined for rule breaking which reduced their risk of harm from motor traffic, such as using short sections of pavement to avoid the most frightening sections of London's main roads.

When police and PCSOs were given the authority to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for pavement cycling in 1999 the Home Office minister Paul Boetang issued this guidance:

"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."

Cycling Minister Goodwil has replied to a letter from Donnachadh McCarthy from Stop Killing Cyclists campaign group.

The Minister said: "Thank you for bringing the issue of cycling on the pavement around dangerous junctions such as Vauxhall Cross to my attention. I agree that the police should be using discretion in enforcing this law and would support Paul Boateng's original guidance. You may wish to write to Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, to bring this matter to his attention too."

Unfortunately this advice has not filtered down to the police on London streets. LCC Chief Executive Ashok Sinha said:

"Our advice to cyclists is to respect pedestrian comfort and safety at all times when cycling, and be aware that you could be fined if you cycle on pavements, no matter what the minister says.

"Our request to the police is to target enforcement on motor traffic offences, which do most harm to cyclists and pedestrians."

McCarthy has written to Sir Hugh Orde as reported at The Ecologist website.

Many cyclists have commented positively about seeing police on the streets enforcing traffic law, but many also feel that there has been a missed opportunity to concentrate on the behaviours that actually cause harm to other road users.

Operation Safeway was launched very rapidly in response to the sudden rise in cyclists fatalities late last year.

The Police concentrated on strict law enforcement and repeating advice from the Highway Code.

Cyclist and pedestrian groups in London are urging that in the future the police take a deeper look at the causes of harm for vulnerable road users and concentrate their enforcement on those measures.

[Home page photo: As Easy as Riding a Bike]