The morning after cycling minister Robert Goodwill reiterated previous guidance to police to use their discretion and not fine responsible, considerate pavement cyclists, a Facebook page set up to complain about pavement riders in Worthing has been considerably toned down.
The page’s admin told road.cc “We changed the Facebook [page] to steer away from appearing to vilify cyclists and focus on the [situations] where it is acceptable for them to be on the road but they choose not to, and at the same time cause near misses and peeve pedestrians.”
Now known as ‘Cycling on the Pavement’ the ‘Shame on Cyclists’ page and accompanying Twitter account had as its original mission to go after the “irresponsible, inexcusable and brainless” act of riding on the pavement in Worthing.
The page kicked of on January 9 with a couple of pictures of riders on the pavement, but the anonymous creator was quickly pulled up by cyclists explaining why they sometimes decide to use the pavement instead of the road.
"Where can cyclists feel safe except on the pavement?"
According to The Argus, Pauline Greenfield said on the Facebook page: “This really irritates me as where can cyclists feel safe in Worthing except for on the pavement?
“I was cycling on the road in Worthing then got hit from behind by a careless driver. It’s now ten years later and I have had seven leg operations and I am now permanently disabled, all because of a driver not showing consideration to me. I know all too well how dangerous our roads are and would never go in the road again as I'm still terrified.”
Rebecca Frew said: “I cycle on the pavement as I have a four-year-old in a seat on the back.
“I’m not travelling at 30mph so I don’t see the problem; far safer than being on the roads.
“I haven't knocked anyone over or had any complaints. If cyclists show consideration to pedestrians and vice versa then there is no problem.”
However, those messages are no longer visible and the renamed page now says it’s “Simply highlighting the issue of cycling on the pavement in Worthing. Not knocking Cyclists, and no need to take offence either”.
[Update: the messages quoted by the Argus were made about an image from 'Shame on Cyclists' posted on the Worthing Facebook page.]
Twitter’s cycling community has also been quick to set the page and account owner straight.
@gnomeicide said: “why 'shame on cyclists' plural? You seem to be suggesting collective responsibility with that.”
@ShoestringCycle said: “any chance of changing your stupid nick and silly bio to something less offensive to most cyclists who aren't petty idiots?”
The account owner said: “We have changed the bio, if we could change the username without creating a new account then we would. Sorry”.
He was quickly given an explanation by @beztweets of how to change a Twitter username.
“Great,” @shameoncyclists said. “Now to come up with a usernane that isn't bound to offend a single person. Any suggestions? :)”
@ChrispLOL pointed out that there are two pedestrian fatalities per year involving collisions with cyclists (in fact the number is usually lower).
In his most recent tweet, @shameoncyclists said: “This account’s purpose is evolving but never intended to exaggerate fatalities.”
The account’s owner told us: “We are new to all this social media business, just wanted to make a start in getting local authorities involved in taking action in Worthing, enforcement from Police, cycle paths or what have you.
“As the purpose of the page and Twitter account evolves we will try and focus more on getting action taken and perhaps getting the community involved, and away from actually shaming cyclists.”
Pavement cycling & the law
What’s commonly referred to as pavement is known as the footway in road law, and an 1888 amendment to Highways Act made it illegal to ride a bicycle or tricycle on “any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers.”
Police were given the power to apply a fixed penalty notice to footway cyclists in 1999 and in 2002 that power was extended to police community support officers.
However, as Robert Goodwill reiterated yesterday, official advice to police is to use their discretion.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.