It is not at all desirable, we believe, to have pedestrians and cyclists sharing the space they travel on, as it creates unnecessary conflict between two vulnerable groups. Walking should feel safe and comfortable on the pavement, particularly considering some pedestrians may be physically impaired. And cyclists should feel safe from motor traffic on their dedicated cycle space, considering some cyclists may use cycles as a mobility aid.
By providing space clarity, much of the conflict between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers is removed. The answer to the problem of cycling on the pavement is to provide dedicated space for cycling, protected from motor traffic, and delineate it clearly from pedestrian spaces.
The problem for cyclists
Currently many cyclists in the UK ride on the pavement because they do not feel safe on the road. In countries which have dedicated space for cyclists, cycling on the pavement is rare or even non-existent.
Lack of government leadership on the issue
In the UK, it’s very muddy waters. Here, where there is very little safe, dedicated space for cycling, successive transport ministers have stated that if it is too dangerous to ride on the road, police should not penalise people who cycle on the pavement in a responsible manner. In addition to this, the local police have to decide how best to spend their time and resources. Pavement cycling carries an extremely low risk of injury, especially when compared to the levels of injury from motor traffic. Of course, we agree that it is totally regrettable when injury or material damage occurs.
We think that the current official government position is a mess. The government must do much more to aid walking and cycling, than give advice to the police as to what to do or not. The Department for Transport must fix our nation’s transport systems by providing sound and binding design advice to local authorities and set aside the investment required to make these changes to our roads to improve transport system, and civilise and diversify streets and neighbourhoods.
Increase cycling for a better transport system
In the UK’s congested polluted cities, like Newcastle, everyone benefits from more people cycling instead of driving. For many people it just doesn’t feel safe enough to cycle on our roads in their current state. Some cycle on the pavement, many don’t cycle at all. The number of cyclists could be increased by providing safe conditions and space for cycling. With fewer people driving and fewer motor vehicles on the road, this would be a much better transport system for all.
With the above reasoning, we’d ask anyone concerned about pavement cycling to join our call for better walking and cycling infrastructure and clear delineation of space.
Further resources and subject reading