Opinion: Time to end pavement and park restrictions for cyclists - what do you think?

Transport minister Robert Goodwill has suggested cyclists to be allowed to use pavements. Transport minister Robert Goodwill has suggested cyclists to be allowed to use pavements.

Crawford Gillan
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
9:32 AM

I must admit I had never heard of transport minister Robert Goodwill before last week. Now I find myself as his No 1 fan.

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Why? For the simple reason that he offered the sensible solution to the problems of cycling in our busy streets when he called for cyclists to be allowed to mount pavements to escape dangerous sections of road.

He went on to say that enforcing laws that prohibit cycling on the pavement was a police matter but that discretion should be exercised.

He reiterated the guidance from 1999, when fixed penalties for cycling on pavements were introduced, which states that the goal is not to penalise “responsible cyclists”.

Elsewhere it was reported that, between November 25 and January 3, some 988 fixed penalties were issued, suggesting that discretion was a rather rare commodity.

As I enter the second half of my first year of retirement one of things I would love to savour as the weather warms up is the chance to pootle about on my bike. But to do so means risking life and limb. Riding along empty pavements is a sensible option – as happens in towns across Europe.

Of course this put the onus on cyclists to be considerate and treat pedestrians with due care and attention. But that should not be beyond the wit of man (or woman). It is no different from many aspects of our lives on this crowded isle when civilised behaviour is the glue that keeps our day-to-day activities functioning without animosity.

Clearly the thought of louts wreaking havoc on packed pavements, scattering pedestrians in every direction, would be an anathema, but there are long stretches of pavement that remain largely deserted except for a jogger or two.

And it is not only pavements. What is wrong with allowing cyclists to pedal through parks, provided they display consideration and courtesy to other people they encounter?

Restrictions on cycling through parks seem petty and totally illogical.

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