Woman, 74, fined for using M25 as bike ride “short cut”

Surrey Police stop cyclist between junctions 10 and 11 of busy motorway

by Simon_MacMichael   August 8, 2014  

The M25 (CC licensed image by Highways Agency:Flickr)

Police in Surrey have fined a 74-year-old woman £50 for cycling on the hard shoulder of the M25 motorway.

The woman, from New Haw near Weybridge, was apparently using what is one of Britain’s busiest stretches of road as a shortcut, according to a tweet from Surrey Roads Police.

She was stopped on Wednesday afternoon between junctions 10 and 11.

Cyclists take to the M25 with alarming regularity, with a number of instances of bike riders being spotted on the motorway flagged up by Getsurrey.co.uk.

According to the website, a cyclist from Ghana was arrested in June after police caught him cycling on the hard shoulder in Surrey and discovered that his visa had expired.

In May, a cyclist was seen by a driver riding the wrong way on the motorway, while in February a rider was caught by CCTV footage as he made his way across the slip road onto the hard shoulder.

The same month, another cyclist was found on the motorway after following instructions from his GPS unit as he sought to find a quicker way home from work.

Elsewhere, just a fortnight ago cyclists from the Sri Lanka national team who were in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games were discovered riding on the hard shoulder of the M74 while on a training ride.

36 user comments

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zanf wrote:
I have the unofficial honour of being the first cyclist on the M25.

When they were building the section between Waltham Abbey and Potters Bar back around 1983/4, I snuck on there one weekend and rode up and down it for several hours between junctions 24 and 26.

Someone once told me they used to race on the M25 while it was still being constructed? Can't find anything to confirm it, but did stumble across this http://rarebooks.scarthinbooks.com/m25cycle.shtml

David Arthur's picture

posted by David Arthur [1755 posts]
8th August 2014 - 14:53

37 Likes

fancynancy wrote:

Why they dont build cycle routes down the sides of motor ways & railways is beyond me. Such a simple solution.

In Germany (and yes, in the Netherlands too, sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry) they usually have (largely unused) roads along the rail tracks, likely intended for service vehicles but perfect for walking and cycling. It's a mystery to me why they don't have that here. Would be brilliant for my commute, I could avoid so many cars that way.

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [325 posts]
8th August 2014 - 14:53

38 Likes

@fancynancy: Yes, particularly where the motorway is actually the only way to get somewhere. Two examples that spring to mind: the M50 crossing of the River Severn here, and the M180 crossing of the River Trent here.

In both cases, converting one hard shoulder into a properly protected cycle lane would save cyclists a long round-trip. Hard shoulders are less essential than they used to be because cars are so much more reliable - hence why the Highways Agency is converting them to traffic lanes all over the place.

The cycle path beside the M5 over the Bristol Avon works well enough - let's have more of them.

Doctor Fegg's picture

posted by Doctor Fegg [141 posts]
8th August 2014 - 14:59

46 Likes

Yeah, riding a bicycle on a 70 mph multi-lane road, on the hard-shoulder that's guaranteed to be there, is dangerous.

Cyclists should stick to the much safer 70 mph dual-carriageways without hard-shoulders, and the 60 mph single-lane roads.

UK road/cycling safety logic at its finest.

posted by Paul J [678 posts]
8th August 2014 - 15:18

59 Likes

I bet a 74-year-old woman on a bike was going faster than most of the cars on the M25

http://www.suffolkcycling.com
Blog and GoPro videos

Suffolk Cycling's picture

posted by Suffolk Cycling [72 posts]
8th August 2014 - 15:22

48 Likes

David Arthur wrote:
Someone once told me they used to race on the M25 while it was still being constructed? Can't find anything to confirm it, but did stumble across this http://rarebooks.scarthinbooks.com/m25cycle.shtml

Yes, this is true. I have seen photos and spoken to people who raced on it. Apparently it was really dull.

Back to the original story, if she came on at J10 that implies she was riding on the 3 lane section of the A3 - which is not far different from the M25 anyway. That's by the by - riding to J11 is definitely not the best (or shortest) way to get to New Haw.

posted by SteppenHerring [230 posts]
8th August 2014 - 15:40

31 Likes

Cars might be more reliable but tyres still puncture - as happened to me last week on the M74. So glad I didn't have to go 500 metres to stop as my quick stop saved the wheel from damage.

I have cycled on the M6 in an emergency but that was back when mobile phones were rare.

Incidentally the old M10 in Hertfordshire still has its hard shoulder making it probably the widest cycle lane on any public road. Even the emergency phones are still there (I should check sometime whether or not they work).

I have frequently been beeped by drivers on the A27 just after the finish of the M27 because they think I'm on the motorway.

There does need to be better signposting of alternative routes for cyclists. Try cycling up the A1 to South Mimms and find your way to St Albans without ending up on a motorway.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [292 posts]
8th August 2014 - 16:02

35 Likes

kitkat wrote:
so rather than building decent infrastructure to help non-car people get around they just ignore them and even better, get 50 quid by fining them.

Silly

There are perfectly of good roads to cycle on in the area instead of taking J10-J11 of the M25 that I have used before. She deserved the fine for her stupidity.

posted by Ashfordian [2 posts]
8th August 2014 - 16:17

39 Likes

All road users need to abide by the Highway Code and associated rules and regulations. There is no excuse for cycling on the motorway.
Rather than berate the councils there should be better training and knowledge by the road user who is ultimately responsible.. It should be a legal requirement to read the Highway Code every year or so. How many of you have read it since taking a driving test?

posted by fret [33 posts]
8th August 2014 - 16:26

27 Likes

oozaveared wrote:
kitkat wrote:
so rather than building decent infrastructure to help non-car people get around they just ignore them and even better, get 50 quid by fining them.

Well this might not be popular but... I think the police should enforce traffic laws more rigorously. I consistently stick to this position. Riding your bike on the motorway is dangerous. And the cyclist is not the only person in danger.

I want the traffic laws to be enforced because as a vulnerable road user that's in my best interest. I'd be a hypocrite if I thought some road users should be exempt from enforcement just because they used the same means of transport as I did.

I wonder how many times motorists have been fined for driving in cycle lanes. According to the Highway Code, motorists are told "Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable”. I suspect the answer is smaller than the number of times they have been fined for blocking ASLs Sad

posted by Pub bike [58 posts]
8th August 2014 - 16:34

41 Likes

The accident statistics show that riding a bike on a motorway is actually the safest place to ride.
Nice of all the cars to toot when they see you too, it suggests they have actually seen you..

lifes goal is not to arrive at the grave in a perfectly preserved body, but to skid in sideways yelling "yeah what a ride!"

posted by wheelsucker [53 posts]
8th August 2014 - 16:38

34 Likes

John Stevenson wrote:
zanf, you're such a rebel Smile

(At the time) A 14 year old socially awkward rebel! Wink

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [603 posts]
8th August 2014 - 16:44

29 Likes

David Arthur wrote:
zanf wrote:
I have the unofficial honour of being the first cyclist on the M25.

When they were building the section between Waltham Abbey and Potters Bar back around 1983/4, I snuck on there one weekend and rode up and down it for several hours between junctions 24 and 26.

Someone once told me they used to race on the M25 while it was still being constructed? Can't find anything to confirm it, but did stumble across this http://rarebooks.scarthinbooks.com/m25cycle.shtml

An amazing achievement for that guy, and their suggestion for a race around it would be great!

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [603 posts]
8th August 2014 - 16:50

35 Likes

Ashfordian wrote:
kitkat wrote:
so rather than building decent infrastructure to help non-car people get around they just ignore them and even better, get 50 quid by fining them.

Silly

There are perfectly of good roads to cycle on in the area instead of taking J10-J11 of the M25 that I have used before. She deserved the fine for her stupidity.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. Wait 'til you get to 74 - maybe you'll develop a death wish too.

ChrisS

posted by Chris S [44 posts]
8th August 2014 - 17:54

39 Likes

Er, anyone suggesting that a bike lane next to the motorway is a good idea, well I work in the roadside breakdown industry. In a single year 5 breakdown technicians have been killed while working on the hard shoulder - which is why there's now a strict code for roadside working (PAS 43) . The chances of some idiot either drifting into or overtaking in the hard shoulder are quite high. This is why all advice is that if you do break down on the motorway, get the hell out of the car and behind the crash barrier straight away.

Sorry - that was po-faced and boring.

posted by SteppenHerring [230 posts]
8th August 2014 - 20:57

33 Likes

Stephen - it was a good point. As was your one about using J10-11 to get to New Haw being insane. I wouldn't even drive that way. Depending if she was coming north or south on the A3 (which you couldn't pay me to do in either direction on a bike). There used to be a track called Muddy Lane from Wisley on the South side that went to Byfleet under the M25 but some busybody got it closed.

posted by choddo [17 posts]
8th August 2014 - 21:11

28 Likes

fancynancy wrote:
Why they don't build cycle routes down the sides of motor ways & railways is beyond me. Such a simple solution.

Oh, doubly especially railways. They go from town centre to town centre, and they are traffic-free and flat. How I wish it too... And canals too (and by that I mean real proper tarmac).

SteppenHerring wrote:
Er, anyone suggesting that a bike lane next to the motorway is a good idea, well I work in the roadside breakdown industry. In a single year 5 breakdown technicians have been killed while working on the hard shoulder

A cycle facility next to a motorway is not necessarily the same thing as a bike lane on the hard shoulder. Building motorways costs squillions of quid. Adding a proper, wide, tarmac cycle road (or cycle access to a dedicated service road alongside, via a 150cm gap on a lockable barrier etc) would not add much dosh to the bottom line, and that applies to major non-motorway highways too.

posted by severs1966 [109 posts]
9th August 2014 - 8:50

25 Likes

The original tweet doesn't say whether the offenders' intended destination was earthly or whether she had a more celestial terminus in mind...

3wheelsgood's picture

posted by 3wheelsgood [31 posts]
9th August 2014 - 8:56

17 Likes

choddo wrote:
Stephen - it was a good point. As was your one about using J10-11 to get to New Haw being insane. I wouldn't even drive that way. Depending if she was coming north or south on the A3 (which you couldn't pay me to do in either direction on a bike). There used to be a track called Muddy Lane from Wisley on the South side that went to Byfleet under the M25 but some busybody got it closed.

You can still walk along Muddy Lane and probably cycle, it is a bit narrow when you go under the M25 bridge though.

Mrs Freespirit and I walked through there about a year or so ago.

posted by freespirit1 [188 posts]
9th August 2014 - 10:35

13 Likes

hairyairey wrote:

I have frequently been beeped by drivers on the A27 just after the finish of the M27 because they think I'm on the motorway.

Yeah me too. I find it worrying that some drivers obviously don't know if they are on a motorway or not.

Mike

mike the bike's picture

posted by mike the bike [180 posts]
9th August 2014 - 15:29

7 Likes

I'm pretty appalled that no-one has seen fit to mention this fucking idiot could've caused death and destruction on the motorway...in the name of a short cut ? A £50 fine is an insult.

posted by Beaufort [184 posts]
9th August 2014 - 19:41

10 Likes

Beaufort wrote:
I'm pretty appalled that no-one has seen fit to mention this fucking idiot could've caused death and destruction on the motorway...in the name of a short cut ? A £50 fine is an insult.

Why? Is it really a major problem? How many deaths every year are caused by people cycling on the hard shoulder of motorways? Its not that often that people make such an error (usually it seems to be foreign sports teams!).

I suspect its not as many as those caused by people driving on pavements (and on cycle paths), and does that always receive a huge penalty in the absence of death or injury? Usually that goes entirely unpunished.

Seems to me this such a minor problem in general that its not worth getting worked up over demanding harsher penalties. The vast majority of cyclists have more sense because it already carries a potentially fatal penalty. If it suddenly became a common occurrence then maybe you could argue the penalty needs to be increased.

Plus, of course (as others have already pointed out ) lots of major roads where cycling is allowed are actually less safe for cycling than motorways are.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [746 posts]
9th August 2014 - 20:15

7 Likes

74 and still probably more rad on her bike than most of the boring sods whinging about her.

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
10th August 2014 - 1:12

3 Likes

fancynancy wrote:
Why they dont build cycle routes down the sides of motor ways & railways is beyond me. Such a simple solution.

Completely agree. They just finished doubling the rail line Between Bathgate and Edinburgh Last year, why they never thought about building a cycle track along side it at the same time is beyond me. They built a cycle track along side the Bathgate to Airdrie part but not into the Capital. Wasted opportunity.

Das's picture

posted by Das [119 posts]
10th August 2014 - 19:42

2 Likes

The reopened railway was made possible because the wayleave was preserved almost entirely intact by the construction of a cycle route, on which I was the engineer. There were conditions built in to the deal for returning the route to a railway.

One was that the continuity of the cycle route would be maintained during the construction work - it was not.

Another was that a cycle route to replace that displaced by the railway reopening would open contemporous with the reopening of the rail link. On my last visit the links at Bathgate and Plains were either miserably circuitous or incomplete - notably at Plains you needed to use the A89 between Plains and Drumgelloch.

On the plus side there is still very little demand to travel between Blackridge and Caldercruix - I was often the only passenger on the hourly bus with my bike when the path was being built. Thus the Glasgow to Edinburgh trains via Bathgate double the frequency of service but are generally less busy than the trains via Falkirk High - a detail which people had to be reminded of during Glasgow 2014 - and if you are travelling from Partick and beyond its actually faster to stay on the train through to or from Edinburgh.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [503 posts]
10th August 2014 - 20:46

2 Likes

Glasgow-Edinburgh via Bathgate - that line takes a *lot* longer to get to Glasgow though. Particularly approaching Glasgow, it takes a very meandering route with lots of stops. Was very annoyed the time I accidentally took that line instead of via Falkirk!

posted by Paul J [678 posts]
10th August 2014 - 21:23

2 Likes

Pub bike wrote:
oozaveared wrote:
kitkat wrote:
so rather than building decent infrastructure to help non-car people get around they just ignore them and even better, get 50 quid by fining them.

Well this might not be popular but... I think the police should enforce traffic laws more rigorously. I consistently stick to this position. Riding your bike on the motorway is dangerous. And the cyclist is not the only person in danger.

I want the traffic laws to be enforced because as a vulnerable road user that's in my best interest. I'd be a hypocrite if I thought some road users should be exempt from enforcement just because they used the same means of transport as I did.

I wonder how many times motorists have been fined for driving in cycle lanes. According to the Highway Code, motorists are told "Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable”. I suspect the answer is smaller than the number of times they have been fined for blocking ASLs Sad

Well if you read my post you'll see that I want more rigorous policing of traffic rules and laws. So yes I'd be happy to see more enforcement of infringements like that. But if you just call for some traffic rules to be enforced but not ones that affect your chosen form of transport. Then that will be seen as merely self serving and hypocritical.

Because I am on a bike and somewhat vulnerable I want the police to take action that makes all road users drive and ride more safely. I'd prefer that road users did this because they wanted to be nice civilised people who want safe and courteous roads, but if some only act that way for fear of prosecution then so be it.

I also happen to think that had the 74 year old woman been merely confused and/or lost and mistakenly ended up on a motorway that she would have simply been assisted off it by a friendly copper. However the "short cut" element indicates that she knew she should not be on a motorway but went on it anyway because it was a shortcut. Hence the fine.

In any case I can't abide it when other drivers moan about enforcement of speeding laws, claiming the police should have better things to do or that that they (motorists) are being victimised. It is far less common that cyclists endanger others by excessive speed but that's not say that other things some of them do like riding on busy pavements RLJ etc should not be enforced Likewise I don't have much truck with cyclists that think they should have carte blanche to break rules and that if they get fined they are being victimised.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [745 posts]
11th August 2014 - 9:06

0 Likes

Paul J wrote:
Yeah, riding a bicycle on a 70 mph multi-lane road, on the hard-shoulder that's guaranteed to be there, is dangerous.

Cyclists should stick to the much safer 70 mph dual-carriageways without hard-shoulders, and the 60 mph single-lane roads.

UK road/cycling safety logic at its finest.

Well true enough. So what are you saying? They should allow cyclists on to motorways (I presume along with milk floats, mopeds, tractors etc) or alternatively ban us cyclists from A roads. And what do you think is more likely?

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [745 posts]
11th August 2014 - 15:43

1 Like

'Cyclists take to the M25 with alarming regularity'

Do you mean frequency? Alarming regularity would suggest incredibly precise intervals. Like Hailey's comet. Not necessarily frequent.
*Pedant mode off*

Of course motorways have an incredibly good cyclist safety record. So do railways. No one cycles on them. [Please do not tell me about when you did cycle along the M1 or the WCML.]

posted by racyrich [152 posts]
11th August 2014 - 15:59

2 Likes

We frequently cycle on motorways here in the UAE. Great big 12 lane motorways with most cars doing 120-140km/h and lots of heavy traffic.

It's not really a problem if you're just cycling on the hard shoulder. I don't know what everyone is getting upset about.

In fact I'd say it is safer than most urban riding because you are not having to interact with the cars - they don't have to move around you, slow down for you or do anything that involves a driver making a decision in favour of a cyclist.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [566 posts]
11th August 2014 - 16:29

0 Likes