Pavements are not for cycling. Time for pedestrians to stand their ground – Stephen Jardine
I saw him from quite a distance. Me walking to the shops, him cycling towards me on his food delivery bike. He had the obligatory oversized headphones on but that shouldn’t affect his eyesight and yet the distance between us was closing fast. I looked around at the road, it was wide and quiet yet for whatever reason he’d chosen to ride on the pavement, where he seemed convinced he had right of way.
Years ago I might have stepped aside but instead I looked him in the eye right until he swerved and dropped down onto the road. Nothing was said but I was ready with a variation of “get off the pavement” which has been deployed several times over the summer.
We seem to be in the midst of an epidemic of cyclists on pavements. Despite it being an offence under section 129(5) of the Roads Scotland Act 1984, it is something you will now see every day. Where young children are involved, it’s understandable. For the inexperienced, our roads can be terrifying.
However, that’s not the problem here. The issue is adults who seem never to have read the Highway Code, particularly rule 54 which states “you must not cycle on a pavement”. Some may just be confused. The baffling layout of pavements and cycle lanes in some places might lead to lines being blurred.
Stepping off the tram on Leith Walk in Edinburgh I’ve unwittingly ended up in the path of an oncoming bike and that was my fault. So it’s quite possible some cyclists might start in a bike lane and end up on a pavement. Others are perhaps worried about potholes and fear a fall given the dilapidated state of the roads and that is understandable.
However, others just seem not to care where they cycle and food delivery couriers are without doubt the worst offenders. No meeting of metal and flesh is ever going to end well but with most riding electric bikes with a top speed of 15 mph, an accident is literally waiting to happen, particularly when staff on zero-hours contracts are under pressure to make deliveries on time.
The fact that no one has been injured so far is probably down to how polite most people are. The elderly and parents with pushchairs will squeeze up against the wall to let bikes on the pavement past with only a tut or quiet groan but that simply exacerbates the problem. The more that happens, the more they think they can do it.
The police should be enforcing the law but they have enough to do and catching offenders in the act is tricky. So instead it’s up to the rest of us. Politely and calmly, we can stand our ground and point out that bicycles belong on the road and they should not be riding on the pavement. I’m not suggesting a confrontation, just a reinforcement of the fact that they should not be there.
It’s never real cyclists. They know the rules and are conscious of the need for everyone to have space. The issue here is a minority displaying arrogance mixed in with a healthy dose of ignorance and the outcome is going to be a tragic headline in this paper unless something changes.
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