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Young girl left in tears and father forced to carry her - and her bike - on rest of journey to school

A police officer in Lincolnshire reportedly threatened to confiscate a bicycle that was being ridden on the pavement by a four-year-old girl, leaving her in tears and forcing her father to carry both her and her bicycle to school.

According to the Grantham Journal, Sophie Lindley was riding her bike, which has stabilisers fitted, on a pavement on Trent Road last Monday morning as she headed to West Grantham Academy St John’s.

The youngster was accompanied by her father Dale, who was holding her by a lead.

He told the newspaper: “A police car pulled over and told me she had to get off her bike as it is against the law to ride on the footpath.

“He then drove off but said he’d be checking his mirrors, and if he saw her riding the bike again he would confiscate it.”

With his daughter in tears, Mr Lindley carried her and her bicycle, as well as other items, for the remainder of their journey.

Sophie’s mother, Emma Lindley, and her grandmother, Margaret Stephenson, both rang the town’s police station to complain – and were given conflicting responses.

“One said the law applied to everyone – no-one can ride a bike on the pavement,” explained Mrs Stephenson. “But another said it shouldn’t have happened, as it’s different with children.”

Mrs Lindley said: “You can’t expect a four-year-old to ride in the road, it’s not exactly safe. And she has the lead and wears a helmet.”

Her husband added: “We don’t have a car, and it’s almost two miles to the school. She can’t walk that with her little legs, which is why she’s always had the bike.”

The Grantham Journal says Lincolnshire Police have so far been unable to identify the officer who told Sophie to get off her bike.

A spokesman said: “Safety is our priority and cycling on the pavement is illegal. However, common sense obviously prevails and in the case of young children, officers would use their discretion and offer the most appropriate advice for the circumstances.”

Cycling on the pavement is illegal under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888 and is nowadays punishable by a fixed penalty notice, although the law does not give police officers powers to confiscate a bicycle.

However, official guidance issued by then Home Office minister Paul Boateng in 1999 is that police officers should use their discretion.

In a letter to senior police officers, Mr Boateng 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.”

Last year, transport minister Robert Goodwill, who is responsible for cycling, confirmed that Mr Boateng’s guidance remained valid.

The Association of Chief Police Officers subsequently issued a statement which said: “We welcome the re-issued guidance from the Minister for Cycling in respect of cycling on the pavement and have re-circulated this to all local forces.”

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.

76 comments

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SevenHills [232 posts] 2 years ago
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You just couldn't make it up could you? What a fecking idiot. You really have to hope the plod is identified and charged with wasting police time.

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kie7077 [904 posts] 2 years ago
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Stupid law is clearly pointless, it is a detriment to cycling and should be scraped outright.

Cycling on pavements is dangerous? No it is not, reality shows that.

The pavement is a good place to learn cycling and gain confidence for all ages, making it illegal is a barrier to cycling.

The law against riding on the pavements was written for people riding horses, not bikes and should not have been extended to include bikes.

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evojm72 (not verified) [368 posts] 2 years ago
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Every time I try to remind myself what a difficult job the police have, one of them goes and does something to make me think that they're really just a bunch of tw&ts.

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Gus T [301 posts] 2 years ago
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And their Chief Constable is in the press complaining how Lincolnshire's force is undermanned and can't take any of the proposed cuts. If there were less officers like this and more doing the job correctly they wouldn't be so stretched.  14

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Mike_H [14 posts] 2 years ago
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If that is true- I am sure that the Bobby's mother is very proud of him upholding the law!

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Argos74 [434 posts] 2 years ago
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Mr Lindley, however, is deserving of much cake. Carrying the little one, and her bike and bag to school. Chapeau!

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SuperG [118 posts] 2 years ago
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Unbelievable to pull over in a police car for a 4year old.

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Kadinkski [662 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah, yeah, whatever. It's bullshit and the parents are attention-seeking morons.

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SamSkjord [39 posts] 2 years ago
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That 4 year old, given a mass of 20kg and speed of 3.2km/h (walking speed) would have a kinetic energy of 8.1 Joules, equivalent to the fastest cosmic rays! Imagine the devastation if she'd hit someone.

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Arceye [20 posts] 2 years ago
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When it comes to adults cycling on the footpath, then I completely agree with the law, they should be on the road or cycle path, ( no excuses ).
As for kids, they should not even be allowed to cycle on the road until aged maybe 10 years and over due to general lack of awareness and judgement.

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CanAmSteve [254 posts] 2 years ago
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I ride on one footpath regularly. It leads to a country pub, which from the side road I use is 50 yards away on the same side of a busy B-road (40 mph limit- often ignored).

I could cross the road, cycle along 50 yards and cross back, or dismount and walk the 50 yards. My decision is based on the presence of pedestrians (rare). If present, I dismount. If not, I cycle slowly along the footpath. Except that about 50% of the time, someone has parked across it. But hey - *that's* OK...

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mike the bike [900 posts] 2 years ago
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There used to be an exemption in law for children cycling on the pavement, although I believe a "child's cycle" was not precisely defined.
Or did I dream this? Somebody out there must know.

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Grizzerly [362 posts] 2 years ago
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The police have no power to confiscate a child's bike. The word this plod was looking for was STEAL!

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Arceye [20 posts] 2 years ago
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I do thing I remember during a time at school when police visited, talking about road safety and describing cycle proficiency test, it was said that wheels 16" or smaller are allowed on the footpath.
But I guess they may have been describing what they regard are acceptable under the their discretion.

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Bazza155 [34 posts] 2 years ago
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Is it still a bicycle if it has stabilisers...4 wheels??

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therevokid [1010 posts] 2 years ago
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bet he wouldn't behave the same towards his own kids being
on the pavement and safe as opposed to being "targets" for the
arse holes in cars !!!!!

wonder if he pointed out where a 4 year old should be riding ???

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Leviathan [2558 posts] 2 years ago
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Was she cycling furiously and dangerously? A Ladybird or Slug may have been harmed.

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GREGJONES [296 posts] 2 years ago
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This is what forces people to buy cars and exacerbate the problem. I live in central Manchester and the catchment is a third of a mile and yet half the parents drive there, making it too dangerous for my children to cycle. So they have to walk or ride the pavement.

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bendertherobot [1414 posts] 2 years ago
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Kadinkski wrote:

Yeah, yeah, whatever. It's bullshit and the parents are attention-seeking morons.

Hi there PC Kadinkski.

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Jack Osbourne snr [596 posts] 2 years ago
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The law requires change to protect children. It needs to explicitly allow children to cycle on the pavement, rather than the age of criminal consent exempting those under 10 from prosecution creating a loophole (in Scotland at least).

As for that particular officer, well... let's hope his next trip to the loo involves giving birth to a terrified hedgehog.

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honesty [75 posts] 2 years ago
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It is my understanding that it is not possible to issue a fixed penalty to someone under the age of 16. At which point whilst they are technically breaking the law by cycling on the pavement they cannot be punished for it.

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ron611087 [356 posts] 2 years ago
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I would have pushed my luck and tested his threat of confiscation. That would push the issue beyond being just an anecdotal incident and the bad publicity the police would get would be worth it.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1582 posts] 2 years ago
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SamSkjord wrote:

That 4 year old, given a mass of 20kg and speed of 3.2km/h (walking speed) would have a kinetic energy of 8.1 Joules, equivalent to the fastest cosmic rays! Imagine the devastation if she'd hit someone.

Appropriate calculation for a story from Grantham!

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daviddale [4 posts] 2 years ago
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Come Monday morning he should find someone to drive behind him to keep safe then he and his daughter should ride down the middle of the road at 2mph. Not breaking any laws then, make sure to call the local paper beforehand.

In Sydney you can ride on the footpath up to 14 years old and an adult can accompany. I think changing the law to something like that makes more sense then plod's discretion as it as at the moment.

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Must be Mad [610 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

It is my understanding that it is not possible to issue a fixed penalty to someone under the age of 16. At which point whilst they are technically breaking the law by cycling on the pavement they cannot be punished for it.

This seems to be correct - Certinally children under 10 cannot be served a Fixed penalty notice (as they are below the age of criminal responsibility)

'Confiscating' the bike seems to be totally outside of the police's powers, and may even be an assault.

The one question I would have - could the parent be liable for a fine if they are present and allow the child to cycle on the pavement?

http://www.ridingabike.co.uk/html/cycling_myths_busted.html

Personally - this is just outrageous.

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Puglet [11 posts] 2 years ago
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This week I saw 4 policemen patrolling on foot on the same road, in pairs, near a primary school, I thought at the time it was unusual to see so many bobbys actually out walking, now I realise, they were hoping to leap on any unsuspecting 4 year old's riding their bikes home.

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levermonkey [681 posts] 2 years ago
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I always understood it that a child under the age of 10 years old was exempted from the law with regard to cycling on the footpath provided that they were not riding in a fashion that would endanger other users.

As a side-note the Police Operational Handbook 2015 makes no mention of discretion either for age nor vulnerability. The Officer was therefore factually correct.
This makes him a 'Good' Officer but not a 'Good' person.

"Policing with Pride" indeed.

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Cooks [496 posts] 2 years ago
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If I'd been that cop, I would've tased her. That'll show her.

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Simon_MacMichael [2481 posts] 2 years ago
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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Appropriate calculation for a story from Grantham!

Argh, Grantham ... belatedly realise I could have got a 'Bikesnatcher' reference into the article  3

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AJ101 [276 posts] 2 years ago
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The law is the law. The officer was correctly doing his job...

Which actually highlights the need for serious raised kerb safe cycleways throughout Lincolnshire.

Thanks officer!

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