Home
Robert Goodwill tells Stop Killing Cyclists campaigner that 1999 Home Office guidance still applies & police must use discretion

Minister for Cycling Robert Goodwill has reiterated that the official line from the Department for Transport (DfT) is that cyclists may ride on the footway – more commonly referred to as pavements – provided they do so considerately, and that police officers need to exercise discretion.

The confirmation came in an email sent to a cycle campaigner in London just two days after the Metropolitan Police confirmed nearly 1,000 cyclists had been fined for pavement cycling as part of its Operation Safeway.

In a letter emailed to Donnachadh McCarthy of the pressure group Stop Killing Cyclists, which has recently held protests outside the headquarters of Transport for London (TfL) on Southwark Bridge Road and at Vauxhall Cross, the minister said that original guidance issued by the Home Office 15 years ago when Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were introduced, and repeated in 2004, was still valid.

Mr Goodwill told Mr McCarthy, who had written to his ministerial colleague at the DfT, Baroness Kramer, in December: “Thank you for bringing the issue of cycling on the pavement around dangerous junctions such as Vauxhall Cross to my attention. I agree that the police should be using discretion in enforcing this law and would support Paul Boateng’s original guidance. You may wish to write to Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief police Officers, to bring this matter to his attention too."

That guidance from Mr Boateng, issued in 1999 said: “The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.”

Stop Killing Cyclists has hailed the minister's clarification as its first major success and Mr McCarthy said: “Fining vulnerable cyclists for cycling responsibly on the pavement at extremely dangerous junctions like Vauxhall Cross, is a bedroom tax on two-wheels as there is no safe alternative for them to cycle on.”

In a press release, the group added that it "is calling for an urgent meeting with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to discuss policing of cyclists in the capital.

Together with issues such as red light jumping, cyclists riding on the pavement is an issue that regularly sees bike riders come under criticism, and is one that is regularly highlighted at meetings between the police and local residents across the country.

While it is rare for pedestrians to be killed or seriously injured following a collision with a cyclist, occasionally cases do hit the headlines where the latter has been riding recklessly.

Last month a cyclist received a suspended prison sentence for wanton and furious driving after he collided with a teenage girl on a shared footpath on Southend-on-Sea’s promenade, leaving her with life-threatening head injuries.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

56 comments

Avatar
ironmancole [322 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Ooh goody.

Now that government have at last cleared up the bloody and frankly horrific carnage caused by cyclists on the pavement perhaps they can turn to the trivial matter of ensuring motorists use the roads on the condition they do it responsibly.

Define responsibly anyway? If I adopt vehicle standards I can knock off a couple of people no problem and blame them for being in my way.

Besides, the sun was in my eyes and my baby kicked me...pretty sure the magistrate won't bother himself with details like the fact I'm male, it's an excuse he can rubber stamp.

Shall I pay the fine in advance...think I've got £40 in a birthday card somewhere...

Avatar
workhard [397 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

So now Stop Killing Cyclists write to the Met and ask them to withdraw all the FPN's?

Avatar
BikeBud [205 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

The cynic in me thinks this may give the government and local authorities an excuse not to take cyclist provision seriously when designing road layouts.

Avatar
BikeBud [205 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

The cynic in me thinks this may give the government and local authorities an excuse not to take cyclist provision seriously when designing road layouts.

Avatar
Rouboy [91 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

As a responsible cyclist won't it be lovely to share the pavements with all those responsible pedestrians.  1

Avatar
mikeprytherch [223 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I am against this notion completely, just yesterday I was hit by an idiot cyclist outside Kings Cross, yes you could say he wasn't riding responsibly but what does that mean ? maybe it was me who wasn't walking responsibly, perhaps it was my fault because I was listening to some music, but then again I could argue that bikes are silent so what difference does it make, he also didn't have a bell on his bike anyway to tell me he was coming past... perhaps... perhaps... perhaps.

Avatar
Bez [593 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I personally think pavement cycling is a real problem, but I still sometimes do it…
http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/real-cyclists-and-real-pro...

It's interesting to note that shared paths have pretty much all the problems of pavement cycling, too, of course. We're building infrastructure that fits a pattern that we're trying to legislate against because we know it doesn't work. (No surprises there, of course.)

Avatar
Cantab [93 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I can just see the conversation with the police officer now...

PO: Excuse me sir, you shouldn't be writing on the pavement, I'll have to issue you with a FPN.

Me: I'm dreadfully sorry officer, I am just avoiding that junction and I'm riding very responsibly.

PO: Nonetheless riding on the pavement is illegal so I'll have to serve you with a FPN.

Me: Actually officer, the DfT minister Mr Boateng issued advice in 1999, reiterated in 2004, and again by Minister Mr Goodwill this year that if done safely and with good reason then cycling on the pavement shouldn't be punished with a FPN.

PO: That's nice. Now if you'll just give me your details...

Avatar
sponican [88 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Cantab wrote:

I can just see the conversation with the police officer now...

PO: Excuse me sir, you shouldn't be writing on the pavement, I'll have to issue you with a FPN.

Me: I'm dreadfully sorry officer, I am just avoiding that junction and I'm riding very responsibly.

PO: Nonetheless riding on the pavement is illegal so I'll have to serve you with a FPN.

Me: Actually officer, the DfT minister Mr Boateng issued advice in 1999, reiterated in 2004, and again by Minister Mr Goodwill this year that if done safely and with good reason then cycling on the pavement shouldn't be punished with a FPN.

PO: That's nice. Now if you'll just give me your details...

You don't have to accept the FPN. You can insist on having your day in court where the ministerial guidance can be presented as evidence.

Avatar
antonio [1124 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

'Minister for Cycling Robert Goodwill has reiterated that the official line from the Department for Transport (DfT) is that cyclists may ride on the footway – more commonly referred to as pavements – provided they do so considerately, and that police officers need to exercise discretion.'
Would it not be a good idea for cyclists to carry a card with the above printed on it to present to an officer on being pulled up. Not to argue a guilty or not on the spot but to ensure that the statement printed is to be considered before any further action is taken, a kind of cooling off period for both parties.

Avatar
arfa [747 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

The one time I picked up an FPN was 6am crossing millennium bridge (because Southwark bridge was closed) and decided to freewheel after crossing the hump of the bridge as no one was about and it was chucking it down with rain. I got lept on by a plastic copper and when i explained that there was absolutely no one else for me to endanger he told me I could contest it in court. So that folks is how discretion works.
All I can say is that this pronouncement is more garbled and mixed messages from the powers that be who could not be less interested.

Avatar
Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I'm a responsible cyclist, but if I take my trike onto the pavement, it would take up the majority of it. Is that responsible?  105

Avatar
unsliced [17 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Oh great, so more complications, caveats and subjective opinions in dispensing law.

It's just moving the furniture - HGVs and fast traffic force the cyclists on to the pavement, but where do the pedestrians go?

Letting 'considerate' bikes cycle on the pavement is just a cop-out. I don't want to cycle on the pavement. I want for my 3 year old child and by 85 year old grandmother to be able to walk safely on the pavement without having to worry that some cyclist's view of considerate falls well short of common sense.

Make the road safe for those that should be there - and keep the pavements safe for those with nowhere else to go.

Avatar
teaboy [311 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

This is a reiteration of something that has been in place since 2004. It is not a 'new' law. If people (or those in positions of authority) don't want cyclists riding on the pavement maybe they should help campaign for high quality segregated cycle infrastructure.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
mikeprytherch wrote:

I am against this notion completely, just yesterday I was hit by an idiot cyclist outside Kings Cross, yes you could say he wasn't riding responsibly but what does that mean ? maybe it was me who wasn't walking responsibly, perhaps it was my fault because I was listening to some music, but then again I could argue that bikes are silent so what difference does it make, he also didn't have a bell on his bike anyway to tell me he was coming past... perhaps... perhaps... perhaps.

If you were listening to music, how can you tell if the bike was silent?

Cycling along a busy pavement is silly. But so is fining cyclists for riding along empty pavements, especially at dangerous junctions.

get real.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
unsliced wrote:

Oh great, so more complications, caveats and subjective opinions in dispensing law.

It's just moving the furniture - HGVs and fast traffic force the cyclists on to the pavement, but where do the pedestrians go?

Letting 'considerate' bikes cycle on the pavement is just a cop-out. I don't want to cycle on the pavement. I want for my 3 year old child and by 85 year old grandmother to be able to walk safely on the pavement without having to worry that some cyclist's view of considerate falls well short of common sense.

Make the road safe for those that should be there - and keep the pavements safe for those with nowhere else to go.

If it's an empty pavement at a busy junction, where is the risk to pedestrians? I don't want to see my aged parents or my children endangered by some Strava nutter on the pavement either. But then I also want my children to be able to ride on the pavement without some plastic policeman popping up and telling them to ride on the road.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1198 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I don't really like this 'discretion' thing. Seems as if it leaves you at the mercy of the prejudices of whatever cop you happen to encounter. Seems to make it as much about luck as justice.

_So many times_ I've had an aggressive hoodie-wearing young bloke come zooming along a narrow or crowded pavement, either straight at me head-on or whizzing past me from behind (and it always seems to happen when I'm pushing my bike along the pavement like a good boy, having had to dismount for some reason or other - and always at places where I regularly cycle _in the road_). Nothing ever gets done about those guys.

Yet I remain convinced that if I ever get off of a nasty road onto a totally deserted pavement in the early hours of the morning _that's_ when some cop (whose wife ran off with a lycra-wearing road-biker, leaving him with a lifelong hatred of anyone on two-wheels!) will magically appear from nowhere!

Avatar
oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Absolutely agree. If you think you were riding responsibly and had good reason to avoid riding in the road then don't accept the FPN. Accepting an FPN is pleading guilty to the offence and agreeing not to contest it or waste time in return for a minimal penalty.

If you want to take the day off to go to court feel free. The policeman will submit his report. You give your evidence. If the Magistrate agrees with you then no fine. If he/she agrees with the copper who was there at the time that you had no reasonable cause or were not being responsible you'll get a bigger fine and have to pay some costs.

So the question you have to ask yourself is "Do you feel lucky.... Well do you?"

I'd rather pay the FPN and be done with it than take a day's holiday to watch a magistrate decide whether to make career waves by backing a point making pavement riding cyclist rather than a copper and have to pay extra for the experience.

£40 is what the HMRC reckon is the cost of 88 miles of motoring (45p per mile). Smile at the officer. Acknowledge he is just doing his job. Tell him how much you admire the police. Cycle on.

Avatar
700c [902 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Agree, relying on a PC's discretion is totally unsatisfactory. You just won't know where you stand re FPN's since discretion is completely subjective.

Reasons for cycling on the pavement- I can only think of one, and that's if you are a young child, vulnerable adult, or accompanying one -and almost certainly cycling slowly so present less of a risk.

The 'avoiding busy/dangerous junctions' argument is totally spurious. Its ONE JUNCTION. WALK YOUR BIKE!!

Also feel that this deflects from the issue of dangerous junctions and lack of cycling infrastructure in the first place..

Avatar
oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

I don't really like this 'discretion' thing. Seems as if it leaves you at the mercy of the prejudices of whatever cop you happen to encounter. Seems to make it as much about luck as justice.

Yet I remain convinced that if I ever get off of a nasty road onto a totally deserted pavement in the early hours of the morning _that's_ when some cop (whose wife ran off with a lycra-wearing road-biker, leaving him with a lifelong hatred of anyone on two-wheels!) will magically appear from nowhere!

Well discretion is better than no discretion don't you think. No discretion given to the officer means that no matter how responsible you were, no matter how reasonable he thought your actions were, no matter how dangerous your alternatives looked, he would have to issue you with a ticket.

You should see discretion not as arbitrariness but the opportunity given to an officer to be be a reasonable person despite the official rules. In other words the law says it's an offence and you are due a ticket. He can decide to let you off. All you'd be removing by removing discretion is his ability to let you off.

"These rules are for the guidance of wise men and the strict obedience only of fools." That's a quote from Douglas Bader. It was inserted in my copy of the Queens Regulations when handed to me.

Avatar
MrGear [87 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

There is a horrible junction on my commute, where the pavement has been designated a shared-use path. http://goo.gl/maps/QAdWL

However, I'd rather chance it on the road with the lorries and buses than get abused by pedestrians who think I am illegally riding on the pavement. Every time I have tried to use the pavement, I have been shouted at, and then re-joining the road further on is made difficult. You're better off staying on the road and asserting your position in the lane.

Avatar
RedfishUK [130 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

"and when i explained that there was absolutely no one else for me to endanger he told me I could contest it in court. So that folks is how discretion works."

...don't for one minute think that the court will rubber stamp the decision of the PCSO or even a Police Officer
My partner is a Legal Advisor in the Mags courts...her advice is
1. it is very likely the matter will simply be dropped, and you won't have to pay the fine...the courts are currently dropping anything they can to save money
2. do not for one second think that the opinion of the Police is held in good regard by the Courts. They are very very sceptical about their evidence and dismissive of their interpretation of the law..and that's the polite version

so for pavement riding, always appeal, never pay up on the spot.

Avatar
arfa [747 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I think it was 28 quid at the time and versus the uncertainty/hassle/time factor I just paid as I suspect many others do.
My issue is that with more ambiguous guidance, pedestrians, cyclists and PCSO's have not got a clue and the potential for conflict is increased. If the Minister wishes to allow discretion, he should offer more specific guidance as to how it might be exercised.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1198 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
oozaveared wrote:

Absolutely agree. If you think you were riding responsibly and had good reason to avoid riding in the road then don't accept the FPN. Accepting an FPN is pleading guilty to the offence and agreeing not to contest it or waste time in return for a minimal penalty.

If you want to take the day off to go to court feel free. The policeman will submit his report. You give your evidence. If the Magistrate agrees with you then no fine. If he/she agrees with the copper who was there at the time that you had no reasonable cause or were not being responsible you'll get a bigger fine and have to pay some costs.

So the question you have to ask yourself is "Do you feel lucky.... Well do you?"

I'd rather pay the FPN and be done with it than take a day's holiday to watch a magistrate decide whether to make career waves by backing a point making pavement riding cyclist rather than a copper and have to pay extra for the experience.

£40 is what the HMRC reckon is the cost of 88 miles of motoring (45p per mile). Smile at the officer. Acknowledge he is just doing his job. Tell him how much you admire the police. Cycle on.

I disagree. To me that's a lot of money. And it would also be a source of huge annoyance (I've been stopped and searched by the police several times as a pedestrian, even as it is, I have to really work at not showing my irritation - I'm not exactly anti-police but I have plenty of reasons to see they are just variable and as flawed as every other human being).

Concequently I'd rather take my chances on the road, or get off and walk. And so I'd rather see some of the rapscallions who menace me on the pavement get at least a ticking off.

Avatar
Gottdammerung [1 post] 2 years ago
0 likes

Well this is interesting...

I live in Tottenham and I have to quickly go on the pavement for about 30 seconds or so in order to get from the main road onto the back streets behind my house..

If I don't.. then I've got another mile and a half up past Tottenham town hall and then round the gyratory and onto Broad Lane... which quite frankly I'd do anything to avoid given that the traffic there is generally mental and there's about half a dozen splits in the road as well, which are both confusing and often lead to you being in the middle of three lanes of traffic..

However, I have had the odd pedestrian shout comments about being on the pavement when making my short incursion on it.. Despite the fact I'm riding a Pashley in 1st or 2nd gear and going so slow that I'm actually slower than the pedestrians...

How that's a danger to anyone is quite beyond me and the slight inconvenience I may cause given the size of the bike is preferable to dicing with death on a daily basis!

Glad to see there's some sense being spouted by the govt on this for once! I may well shout back that it's legal, next time I'm harangued!

Avatar
jollygoodvelo [1419 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Worth knowing these powers:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...

If, for the sake of argument, you refuse to comply with a request for details for the FPN, they can 'detain' you until a constable arrives (max 30 minutes). So, check your watch when being stopped. Because you'd stop... of course...

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1198 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

On a related note, what's the law relating to cycling on pavements where half of the pavement has been officially allocated for parking bays? As cars drive along it to park, surely it must be legal to cycle along it?

Avatar
mrmo [2073 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Gottdammerung wrote:

However, I have had the odd pedestrian shout comments about being on the pavement when making my short incursion on it.. Despite the fact I'm riding a Pashley in 1st or 2nd gear and going so slow that I'm actually slower than the pedestrians...

Problem in the UK is that there are a lot of people who aren't interested in the intent of the law, simply the word. So a law banning cycling on the pavement make perfect sense, but it needs to be tempered to be used only against those who are causing danger. As per the home office guidance.

I guess it doesn't help that the Police are set targets to fine!

Avatar
mrmo [2073 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Gottdammerung wrote:

However, I have had the odd pedestrian shout comments about being on the pavement when making my short incursion on it.. Despite the fact I'm riding a Pashley in 1st or 2nd gear and going so slow that I'm actually slower than the pedestrians...

Problem in the UK is that there are a lot of people who aren't interested in the intent of the law, simply the word. So a law banning cycling on the pavement make perfect sense, but it needs to be tempered to be used only against those who are causing danger. As per the home office guidance.

I guess it doesn't help that the Police are set targets to fine!

Avatar
Pauldmorgan [223 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
arfa wrote:

The one time I picked up an FPN was 6am crossing millennium bridge (because Southwark bridge was closed) and decided to freewheel after crossing the hump of the bridge as no one was about and it was chucking it down with rain. I got lept on by a plastic copper and when i explained that there was absolutely no one else for me to endanger he told me I could contest it in court. So that folks is how discretion works.
All I can say is that this pronouncement is more garbled and mixed messages from the powers that be who could not be less interested.

There's a specific No Cycling sign on that bridge. Similarly I wouldn't expect this 'guidance' to apply to sections of pavement where there are No Cycling signs.

I know the Millennium Bridge well - I certainly would consider cycling over it to be antisocial especially when it's busy. Appreciate you were doing it at 6am but I'm not surprised that you were pulled up.

'Plastic Copper' seems a bit unfair. Public servant doing their job.

Pages