Penalty notices conflict with police assurances given in May

Students at Imperial College in London have been targeted by Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) for cycling over a small stretch of pavement to reach bike racks outside a laboratory building, receiving £30 on-the-spot fines.

A similar operation in May this year gave rise to protests from students, resulting in the Metropolitan Police telling Felix, the Imperial College student newspaper, that it would not carry out a similar operation in the future – something that has a bit of a hollow ring about it now.

The students’ complaints centre around the fact that there is a ramp on the pavement that seems to provide no purpose other than leading to the bike racks at the Blackett Laboratory building, in Kensington’s Queen’s Gate.

In May, it was suggested that rather than fine students for cycling on the stretch of pavement, the police could instead explain why it was illegal. Moreover, they suggested that warning signs against riding on the pavement could be put up, but these have not appeared.

Antisocial cycling has, of course, been in the news this week – witness the furore yesterday over remarks made by MP Michael Curry – but there does seem to be a question of proportionality here, especially given the fact that the ramp’s location close to the bike racks pretty much invites cyclists to use the pavement.

Live, Imperial College’s student website, wonders however what really lies behind the new crackdown, suggesting that it may not be a desire to raise awareness of the risks of pavement cycling, but rather, given the time of year, looking to “take advantage of a new intake of gullible students”.

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.