Students fined for riding across pavement to reach bike racks

Penalty notices conflict with police assurances given in May

by Simon_MacMichael   October 23, 2009  

Imperial College - Queen's Tower.jpg

Students at Imperial College in London have been targeted by Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) for cycling over a small stretch of pavement to reach bike racks outside a laboratory building, receiving £30 on-the-spot fines.

A similar operation in May this year gave rise to protests from students, resulting in the Metropolitan Police telling Felix, the Imperial College student newspaper, that it would not carry out a similar operation in the future – something that has a bit of a hollow ring about it now.

The students’ complaints centre around the fact that there is a ramp on the pavement that seems to provide no purpose other than leading to the bike racks at the Blackett Laboratory building, in Kensington’s Queen’s Gate.

In May, it was suggested that rather than fine students for cycling on the stretch of pavement, the police could instead explain why it was illegal. Moreover, they suggested that warning signs against riding on the pavement could be put up, but these have not appeared.

Antisocial cycling has, of course, been in the news this week – witness the furore yesterday over remarks made by MP Michael Curry – but there does seem to be a question of proportionality here, especially given the fact that the ramp’s location close to the bike racks pretty much invites cyclists to use the pavement.

Live, Imperial College’s student website, wonders however what really lies behind the new crackdown, suggesting that it may not be a desire to raise awareness of the risks of pavement cycling, but rather, given the time of year, looking to “take advantage of a new intake of gullible students”.

5 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Dont pay, do PCSO's actually have any power?

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
23rd October 2009 - 9:54


Unfortunately one of the few things that a PCSO can do is issue a fixed penalty for cycling on the pavement.

demoff's picture

posted by demoff [344 posts]
23rd October 2009 - 11:34


I wonder what the precise layout of the road and pavement is at this point. Can anyone point to it on Google Maps? Quoting from this very useful page on bikeforall on cycling and the law:

It is important to note that most legislation relating to 'cycling on footpaths' actually relates to the riding of cycles on a 'footway set aside for the use of pedestrians' which runs alongside a road. For example, the 'fixed penalties' brought in a few years ago do NOT apply to country footpaths where there is no road. Fixed penalty notices also cannot be applied to areas such as parks, shopping precincts etc. unless a byelaw has been passed making cycling such areas an offence, nor do they apply to anyone under 16. Many people (including police officers) seem to think that 'a footpath is a footpath' wherever it is and that the same laws apply. This is not the case.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1448 posts]
23rd October 2009 - 11:55


Found it here in Google Street View.

It is such a wide pavement, I can't see that cycling across it is going to cause significant conflict with pedestrians.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1448 posts]
23rd October 2009 - 12:09


While a PCSO can issue a fine, he can do sod all if you just walk off, other than detain you with diverting anecdotes until a real cop arrives.

I rode about 10 yards across the pavement to reach a bike rack this week- a mounted policeman just told me not to, which was fair enough.

posted by wild man [295 posts]
24th October 2009 - 14:31