Many people ask, but it is illegal to cycle on the pavement, unless there is a sign indicating a shared use cycle path. Cycling on footways (a pavement by side of a carriageway) is prohibited by Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888.(Highway Code)
Penalties for Cycling on Pavement
This is punishable by a fixed penalty notice of £30 under Section 51 and Schedule 3 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.
Can Children Cycle on Pavements?
Officially, no. The law on pavement use applies to all on bicycles, irrespective of age. However, children under 16 would not get prosecuted.
Enforcement of Law
Cycling on pavements is often a significant local issue. In response the government passed law enabling fixed ticket penalties to be issues. The then home minister, Paul Boateng issued a letter about the aims of enforcement:
“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.” [1. bike hub]
Similar advice has been giving to police and community support officers that tickets should be given with a considerable degree of discretion, bearing in mind there is a large practical difference between a young children cycling slowly along a road to avoid a dangerous crossing, and an older person riding aggressively on pavement putting people at risk.
Cycling on Footpaths
Fixed penalty notices for cycling on pavements is intended for pavements by the side of a highway. For footpaths away from roads, e.g. in parks, it is less clear an offence is being made, unless the path is clearly marked as non-cycling.
Personal view about cycling on pavements
As a cyclist I want to cycle on the roads not pavements. It’s that simple. (Even though roads are quite dangerous, and at times you feel like putting your life on the line). Unfortunately, people on bikes (I won’t call them proper cyclists) do sometimes ride aggressively on pavements, which can be quite off putting to other pedestrians. It can also lead to accidents.
But, I’m not a ‘pavement fundamentalist’. Occasionally, I can empathise with people who ride on pavements.
- If necessary to get from one road to another.
- To miss dangerous junctions where a cyclist would be forced to take a risky crossing.
- When I see very young kids learning to cycle on the pavement I can understand why they are avoiding roads. However, I feel a better solution is to make roads safer, rather than avoid roads. A 20 mph speed limit in urban areas should help make roads safer.
- If people cycle at walking speed and are ready to give way to any pedestrian.
People will see it is illegal and therefore should never be done. They have a point. But, how many cars stick to legal speed limit? There is a big difference between a young kid cycling slowly on pavement and someone riding aggressively expecting people to jump out of the way. The advice of the home Minister to enforce cycling on pavements with discretion is good common sense advice.
I do see some people cycling on the pavement, with disregard for other road users, and I would like them to get a ticket.
Pavements / Cycle Paths
I am usually suspicious of cycle paths made out of narrow pavements. They satisfy neither pedestrians who have to share a small pavement with cyclists. Cyclists are left with the worst of both worlds. They have to be very cautious on the ‘cycle path’ because of pedestrians. But, if they don’t use these useless ‘cycle paths’ they get criticised by motorists for being on the road. They are kind of left with a no win situation. It is this kind of cycle path that is often worse than nothing.
- Unless it is path on a pavement designed to avoid an awkward junction.
- See: shared use paths
Dangers of cycling on pavement
I regularly reverse my car out of the drive. I also frequently see kids (often teenagers) cycle bikes very fast on the pavement. This is actually very dangerous. Many motorists are not expecting cyclists on the pavement, they expect people to moving at walking pace. By cycling on pavements, cyclists put themselves at greater danger from collisions. and crossing junctions.
Dangers to pedestrians
If a cyclist cycles furiously on the pavement, I can understand why pedestrians get annoyed. If they went at walking pace and were willing to give way to pedestrians then it wouldn’t be such a nuisance. Cyclists can cause injury and even death in rare cases.
Many cyclists use the pavement at this junction because there is quite a long wait at the lights. However, it can’t be justified on the grounds of being safer. Here using the pavement does not help cyclists.
Legalising cycling on pavements
Should it be legal to cycle on pavements? Probably not. Though, where appropriate pavements can be made shared use cycle paths. To help cyclists avoid dangers road junctions. But, perhaps designed in a way to discourage high speed – just get from place to place.
Many people on bikes will abuse the law and cycle faster than is prudent.
Cyclists need to fight for the right to use roads in a safe way, not be moved onto walkways and inferior cycle paths.
On the other hand, there are times when the common sense thing is to use the pavement, so the law should make allowances. A cyclist travelling slowly, short distances on pavements and who gives way to pedestrians is not causing any real problems.
Should cyclists be fined for cycling on pavements?
Cycling on the pavement, could in theory leave you with a fixed penalty charge of £30. If the police did this in Oxford, they could make a nice profit.
If the cyclist is riding fast and if there is no real necessity for cycling on the pavement, Fining is a good thing.
I wouldn’t mind seeing cyclists fined for this kind of action. (Although I would love to see motorists similarly fined for much more dangerous driving manoeuvres they usually get away with.)
Although cycling on pavements is a real nuisance, it’s not actually the worst offence on our roads (as the Daily Tabloids may have us believe) It’s certainly not the cause of the 2,300 road deaths every year (though isolated serious accidents can occur with bikes involved in collisions with pedestrians)
I would love to see people on bikes be more considerate and not give ‘cyclists’ a bad name. Though have you noticed when people drive a car inconsiderately, we don’t label all ‘motorists’ as bad. But, when a person on a bike rides inconsiderately all ‘cyclists’ tend to be tarred with the same brush.
But, I would also love our roads to be made safer, so that people can cycle on the road without risk of being run over by careless and negligent driving.
I would also like to see better road planning, so more proper cycle lanes are provided which provide safe routes for people to cycle into town.