Cyclists and pedestrians in Oxford suburb working together to make streets safer for all

Group formed in Headington following meeting covened by local councillors last month

by Simon_MacMichael   March 4, 2012  

Oxford Radcliffe Camera.jpg

No local newspaper story about cycling seems complete without attention being drawn in the comments to the perceived danger that riders on the pavement can pose to pedestrians. Now, residents of the Oxford suburb of Headington have formed a group that aims to foster understanding between the two and defuse the tense relationship that sometimes exists between them, as well as making the streets safer for all.

The group was formed after a meeting last month that had been convened at Headington School by two local Liberal Democrat councillors, Ruth Wilkinson and David Rundle, reports the Oxford Mail – whose own story is followed by exactly the type of comments referred to above.

Mrs Wilkinson, however, was positive about the outcome of the meeting, telling the newspaper: “It’s really encouraging that our residents are taking the initiative and giving up their time to find ways to make our streets safer for everyone in Headington, pedestrians and cyclists alike.”

Attendees included representatives of local cycle campaign group Cyclox, the Oxford Pedestrians’ Association, Thames Valley Policy and Oxford City Council.

Local cyclist Dominic Francis said: “If we all behave better then we will all get on better.

“As a cyclist, it is my main means of transport around Oxford but there is a great deal of room for improvement in the city’s infrastructure.”

The newspaper says that the group will make recommendations to Thames Valley Police through the local Neighbourhood Action Group, as well as council officials responsible for cycling policy.

Among those attending the meeting were Inspector Marc Tarbit, who is responsible for the area’s policing, who said after the meeting: “Residents need to behave in a way they would want the wider community to behave.

“If they do see an abuse of the code of conduct they should tell us.”

It’s not clear specifically which “code of conduct” he was referring to, although Cyclox recommends that riders adhere to Bike Polite, originally developed by Lothian-based campaign group Spokes, which focuses on five areas: shared footpaths, cycling on the pavement, red traffic lights, riding after dark & canal towpaths.

Cyclox member Simon Hunt, who lives in Headington, told the Oxford Mail: “There is nothing to stop anyone who sees a cyclist on the pavement approaching them and gently pointing out the error of their ways.

“I myself have had such conversations with teenage cyclists,” he added.

In general terms, cycling on the pavement - in legal parlance, the footway - is against the law except on shared use paths and is punishable by a fixed penalty notice of £30.

Official Home Office guidance is that cyclists should only be fined where they are riding in a manner that may cause danger than others; the situation is, however, a complex one that is covered in depth in the BikeHub article Cycling and the Law.

4 user comments

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I see from 'Cycling and the law' that even Bike Hub don't mention the difference between running a red light (bad) and jumping one ( acceptable to many of us on a 4 way traffic lights when the opposite lights are amber and nothing is coming). Thinking

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1055 posts]
4th March 2012 - 23:29

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Here's a conuntrum. I rode my 6 year old son home from primary school on the pavement. Two coppers turned up, probably a bit bored and pointed out this was illegal and my son should be riding on a faster dangerous rosd through our village. I said no he shouldn't he's not allowed to ride on the road tell he's 16. When I point out the cars parked on the pavements had to drive there to get there he had no answer.

Needless to say the copper was most displeased but went away saying he would look into it. I don't think he wanted to have to ticket the 20 or so cars (including the one that drove up and parked on the pavement while we debated) that where plainly visible. I also pointed out cars up one or two roads doing the same thing.

I think he saw me a easy collar and as I was photographing things at the same time he backed off, but that's another story.

A week later I meet some of the Metropolitian police bike team at exhibition at excel. They confirmed my stance and also added that I was allowed to escort my sons home on the pavement provided we ride responsibily.

Cars are allowed allowed to drive on pavements, if there are no parking restriction yellow type lines. If you park on a pavement you have to drive on the pavement to get your car into that position. In fact I have been hit on a pavement by a car trying to park on a pavement

Complex yes - its not simple. I prefer riding on the road and I have no problem with people cycling responsibily on pavements. Its a matter perspective in terms of who is being affected as opposed to the physical aspect of cycling on pavements with no context to the wider picture of the situation at the time.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [117 posts]
5th March 2012 - 11:42

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Ciaran Patrick wrote:
Here's a conuntrum. I rode my 6 year old son home from primary school on the pavement. Two coppers turned up, probably a bit bored and pointed out this was illegal and my son should be riding on a faster dangerous rosd through our village. I said no he shouldn't he's not allowed to ride on the road tell he's 16. When I point out the cars parked on the pavements had to drive there to get there he had no answer.

(16 - your rules ?)

There's a few relevant sections in the following - essentially, he can't be fined etc for it anyway (too young), plus some guidance was issued re fixed penalty notices (your 'cycling responsibly' point).
http://www.bikehub.co.uk/featured-articles/cycling-and-the-law/
(Tho' I'm not sure the *whole* page is entirely accurate, I think the section on lights/pushing cycles may be in error).

Pretty sure I've read in the past that below a certain wheel size a bicyle is actually a toy, but I can't find anything about it from a quick search so I may be talking rubbish.

posted by JonD [180 posts]
5th March 2012 - 14:32

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If by pushing a cycle you are referring to your status when walking along pushing your bike, then there is no error - as the Bikehub article says, there is legal precedent in the Court of Appeal, never taken further to the Lords/Supreme Court, that an individual who is walking along pushing a bicycle is a foot-passenger. The judgement does distinguish "scooting" on one pedal, and makes it clear that you have to be walking in a conventional fashion, but then states that it sees no distinction between walking while pushing a bicycle and walking while not pushing a bicycle.

If you read the judgement literally, it would probably be wise when practising this to step off the bike, step onto the pavement, walk across the road/crossing to the other pavement, then step off the pavement, and finally remount.

posted by Paul M [308 posts]
5th March 2012 - 18:41

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