Sudden outbreak of common sense

Like many seaside towns, Felixstowe has a bylaw prohibiting cycling on its promenade. And as in many seaside towns, the rule is ignored because the prom is often quiet and provides a route across town free from motor vehicles.

Now local paper the Ipswich Star has called for a change to the by-law to permit cycling at quiet times.

In a feature on the paper’s website, it says: “It’s time cycling along Felixstowe prom was permitted. So many people are now doing it, it doesn’t make sense for it to be outlawed – just controlled properly.

“Most cyclists don’t even realise they are breaking a by-law.”

It’s hard to tell that there’s currently a by-law, the paper says as there are no signs at the points where cyclists are likely to enter the prom. As a result, the rule is not so much treated as a guideline as ignored completely.

The paper says: “During our almost daily walk along the prom – we do it at least four or five evenings a week – one night last week we spotted 15 cyclists and six barbecues on the beach (also banned). Walkers? Around a dozen.

“The prom is wide enough for sensible cyclists and walkers, and most riders would not be reckless on such a route.

“Most are cycling at times when there is no-one, or very few people, walking. I know several people who work at the port and use it as their route for an early morning shift.”

The reasoning and fear behind such by-laws is always of people riding bikes recklessly through crowds of holidaymakers. But the paper realises very few people on bikes are that daft.

“I cannot believe anyone would cycle the route on a Sunday afternoon when it is packed with people enjoying a post-lunch stroll. Or while there is a major event taking place. There would be no fun cycling then anyway.”

The article closes with the suggestion that the by-law be amended so that cycling is allowed on the prom before 9.30am and after 4.30pm, and that riders should be required to cycle at a moderate or slow speed and keep well clear of  pedestrians.

However, one commenter on the story points out that no-one pays any attention to the existing by-law, so why would new one be any more effective?

It might be simpler just to allow cycling and let people’s commonsense take care of the rest.

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.