Sunday, 19 January 2014

Cycling on pavements - OK or not?

I read this article (link at the end of this post) the other day and it reminded me of the Cockton Hill, South Church & Henknowle area PACT (police and communities together) meeting I attended last week.

The topic arose in the PACT meeting due to some concerned residents complaining about cycling on footpaths around the area. Apparently in the previous meeting, which I did not attend, there was some debate about whether riding on the pavements is actually illegal or not. However, at the last meeting the PCSO (police community support officer) in attendance did clarify that it is part of the Highways Act of 1835, section 72.

How does this tie in with the article below? Well, the PCSO said that majority of cyclists stopped in Bishop Auckland for riding on pavements cite the reason that the roads are too dangerous. Now, Bishop Auckland is nowhere near as busy as London. But, at peak times, the roads do become very congested.

As a result of this, the PCSO said that he would only issue an FPN (fixed penalty notice) if the cyclist was riding on the paths irresponsibly. Some might argue that breaking the law and riding on the pavement is riding irresponsibly enough already. It looks like the policy in Bishop Auckland is to consider circumstances and try to use some sort of sensible judgement. In addition to this, the PSCO said that advice would be given to the cyclists in questions if seen and stopped.

Riding in the dark

I raised the question of cyclists riding after dark with no lights or reflectors, which is also illegal. This article goes into a lot of detail, the main points of which are:

  • Lights (and reflectors) are required on a pedal cycle only between sunset and sunrise.
  • Lights (and reflectors) are not required when the cycle is stationary or being pushed along the roadside.
  • When they are required, the lights and reflectors listed below must be clean and working properly.

The following items are the minimum required, on a bicycle or tricycle, in order to ride it legally at night:

  • Front Lamp

One is required, showing a white light, positioned centrally or offside, up to 1500mm from the ground, aligned towards and visible from the front. If capable of emitting a steady light, it must be marked as conforming to BS6102/3 or an equivalent EC standard.
If capable of emitting only a flashing light, it must emit at least 4 candela.

  • Rear Lamp

One is required, to show a red light, positioned centrally or offside, between 350mm and 1500mm from the ground, at or near the rear, aligned towards and visible from behind. If capable of emitting a steady light it must be marked as conforming to BS3648, or BS6102/3, or an equivalent EC standard.
If capable of emitting only a flashing light, it must emit at least 4 candela.

  • Rear Reflector

One is required, coloured red, marked BS6102/2 (or equivalent), positioned centrally or offside, between 250mm and 900mm from the ground, at or near the rear, aligned towards and visible from behind.

  • Pedal Reflectors

Four are required, coloured amber and marked BS6102/2 (or equivalent), positioned so that one is plainly visible to the front and another to the rear of each pedal.

The PSCO again reiterated the fact that cyclists stopped for this would be given advice about basic cycle laws and safety. In an amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, PCSOs will soon be able to issue FPNs to cyclists riding without lights/reflectors in the spring of 2014, when the bill gets passed.

Right or wrong?

Personally, I think that the majority of people riding bicycles who I would call "cyclists" do ride on the roads and have appropriate lights and reflectors. I think this is because they have sufficient interest and knowledge about cycling to actually enjoy it as a hobby or embrace cycling as a form of transport. Unfortunately, the "cyclists" that the residents originally complained about are people who do not care about what other people think. These people will cite the roads are too dangerous and get away with it and will not buy lights. For a bike to be legal when it leaves the shop, it must be fitted with reflectors and a bell. Sometimes these are deemed "uncool" and removed. This sounds harsh, but it does happen because I have seen it.

Therefore I think that the powers of the police and the police community support officers should be used. For instance, if a car drove on a pavement and a police officer saw it, action would be taken. Same if the vehicle had no lights on at night. The rules are in the Highway Code and should be adhered to.

The views offered from the police in this article come from one PCSO only and not the entire force. I do not know if this attitude of determining the issuing of FPNs depending on circumstances is adopted by all officers or not.

What do you think?

Original article content:

Let cyclists go on pavements if roads are dangerous, minister tells police
He said enforcing laws which prohibit cycling on the pavement is a matter for police, but added that discretion should be exercised “where a cyclist is using the pavement alongside a dangerous section of road out of fear of the traffic”. Mr Goodwill ...
Derby motorists and cyclists in war of words over riding on footpaths
Let cyclists use pavement to avoid dangerous stretches of road, says Transport ...

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