Figures released in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed a sixfold rise since 2008 in the number of fines given to cyclists for riding on pavements in Wales. While shop owners maintain that anti-social cycling is a menace that needs to be eradicated, cycling campaigners insist that the data highlight that greater provision is needed for cyclists on the principality’s roads.
In 2010, some 318 cyclists received £30 fixed penalty notices for riding on the pavement, against 54 in 2010, with two thirds of fines handed out to cyclists in the past three years being issued in the capital, Cardiff. The biggest rise, however, was seen in Gwent, where just three fixed penalties were issued in 2008, but 104 last year.
Sustainable transport charity Sustrans and national cyclists’ organisation CTC said that greater provision needed to be made for cyclists.
Catrin Parish, Wales policy advocate for transport charity Sustrans, told Wales Online that some less confident cyclists might be using pavements because they lacked confidence in cycling on the road. “We hope increased fines won’t discourage people from cycling,” she added.
Gwenda Owen from CTC also highlighted the problem of the lack of clarity between where cycling is and isn’t permitted, with cycle lanes on pavements leading to some cyclists becoming confused on the issue.
In Cardiff, however, pavement cyclists are seen by some as a threat to the safety of pedestrians. Sergeant Karen McNeil of South Wales Police’s city centre neighbourhood team told the website: “Our concern is the safety of all city centre users and we wish to remind cyclist this is a pedestrianised area where cycling can result in a £30 fixed penalty notice."
Local business owners too have expressed concern, with David Hughes Lewis of the Cardiff Retail Partnership highlighting that the issue regularly cropped up at meetings.
“They’re dangerous, particularly to elderly pedestrians,” he stated. “They can’t hear the cyclist coming and suddenly they’re on top of them. It is a nuisance.”
A spokeswoman for Cardiff City Council acknowledged that existing road infrastructure could cause issues for some cyclists, however, saying: “Cyclists using the pavements instead of roads are often indicative of wider problems such as a lack of confidence, high traffic speeds on the road, or the roads being perceived as unsuitable for cycling. The council is currently developing a strategic cycle network plan which will be implemented over the next five years.”
Referring to the increased number of fines given in Gwent, a Newport Council spokeswoman said: “Newport City Council’s community safety wardens tackle anti-social behaviour and in response to an increase in the number of cyclists using pavements in the city centre the council put additional wardens into the city.”
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.