The morning after cycling minister Robert Goodwill reiterated previous guidance to police to use their discretion and not fine responsible, considerate pavement cyclists, a Facebook page set up to complain about pavement riders in Worthing has been considerably toned down.
The page’s admin told road.cc “We changed the Facebook [page] to steer away from appearing to vilify cyclists and focus on the [situations] where it is acceptable for them to be on the road but they choose not to, and at the same time cause near misses and peeve pedestrians.”
Now known as ‘Cycling on the Pavement’ the ‘Shame on Cyclists’ page and accompanying Twitter account had as its original mission to go after the “irresponsible, inexcusable and brainless” act of riding on the pavement in Worthing.
The page kicked of on January 9 with a couple of pictures of riders on the pavement, but the anonymous creator was quickly pulled up by cyclists explaining why they sometimes decide to use the pavement instead of the road.
According to The Argus, Pauline Greenfield said on the Facebook page: “This really irritates me as where can cyclists feel safe in Worthing except for on the pavement?
“I was cycling on the road in Worthing then got hit from behind by a careless driver. It’s now ten years later and I have had seven leg operations and I am now permanently disabled, all because of a driver not showing consideration to me. I know all too well how dangerous our roads are and would never go in the road again as I'm still terrified.”
Rebecca Frew said: “I cycle on the pavement as I have a four-year-old in a seat on the back.
“I’m not travelling at 30mph so I don’t see the problem; far safer than being on the roads.
“I haven't knocked anyone over or had any complaints. If cyclists show consideration to pedestrians and vice versa then there is no problem.”
However, those messages are no longer visible and the renamed page now says it’s “Simply highlighting the issue of cycling on the pavement in Worthing. Not knocking Cyclists, and no need to take offence either”.
[Update: the messages quoted by the Argus were made about an image from 'Shame on Cyclists' posted on the Worthing Facebook page.]
Twitter’s cycling community has also been quick to set the page and account owner straight.
@gnomeicide said: “why 'shame on cyclists' plural? You seem to be suggesting collective responsibility with that.”
@ShoestringCycle said: “any chance of changing your stupid nick and silly bio to something less offensive to most cyclists who aren't petty idiots?”
The account owner said: “We have changed the bio, if we could change the username without creating a new account then we would. Sorry”.
He was quickly given an explanation by @beztweets of how to change a Twitter username.
“Great,” @shameoncyclists said. “Now to come up with a usernane that isn't bound to offend a single person. Any suggestions? :)”
@ChrispLOL pointed out that there are two pedestrian fatalities per year involving collisions with cyclists (in fact the number is usually lower).
In his most recent tweet, @shameoncyclists said: “This account’s purpose is evolving but never intended to exaggerate fatalities.”
The account’s owner told us: “We are new to all this social media business, just wanted to make a start in getting local authorities involved in taking action in Worthing, enforcement from Police, cycle paths or what have you.
“As the purpose of the page and Twitter account evolves we will try and focus more on getting action taken and perhaps getting the community involved, and away from actually shaming cyclists.”
What’s commonly referred to as pavement is known as the footway in road law, and an 1888 amendment to Highways Act made it illegal to ride a bicycle or tricycle on “any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers.”
Police were given the power to apply a fixed penalty notice to footway cyclists in 1999 and in 2002 that power was extended to police community support officers.
However, as Robert Goodwill reiterated yesterday, official advice to police is to use their discretion.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.