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Police officer threatens to confiscate bike from 4-year-old - for riding on pavement

Young girl left in tears and father forced to carry her - and her bike - on rest of journey to school

A police officer in Lincolnshire reportedly threatened to confiscate a bicycle that was being ridden on the pavement by a four-year-old girl, leaving her in tears and forcing her father to carry both her and her bicycle to school.

According to the Grantham Journal, Sophie Lindley was riding her bike, which has stabilisers fitted, on a pavement on Trent Road last Monday morning as she headed to West Grantham Academy St John’s.

The youngster was accompanied by her father Dale, who was holding her by a lead.

He told the newspaper: “A police car pulled over and told me she had to get off her bike as it is against the law to ride on the footpath.

“He then drove off but said he’d be checking his mirrors, and if he saw her riding the bike again he would confiscate it.”

With his daughter in tears, Mr Lindley carried her and her bicycle, as well as other items, for the remainder of their journey.

Sophie’s mother, Emma Lindley, and her grandmother, Margaret Stephenson, both rang the town’s police station to complain – and were given conflicting responses.

“One said the law applied to everyone – no-one can ride a bike on the pavement,” explained Mrs Stephenson. “But another said it shouldn’t have happened, as it’s different with children.”

Mrs Lindley said: “You can’t expect a four-year-old to ride in the road, it’s not exactly safe. And she has the lead and wears a helmet.”

Her husband added: “We don’t have a car, and it’s almost two miles to the school. She can’t walk that with her little legs, which is why she’s always had the bike.”

The Grantham Journal says Lincolnshire Police have so far been unable to identify the officer who told Sophie to get off her bike.

A spokesman said: “Safety is our priority and cycling on the pavement is illegal. However, common sense obviously prevails and in the case of young children, officers would use their discretion and offer the most appropriate advice for the circumstances.”

Cycling on the pavement is illegal under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888 and is nowadays punishable by a fixed penalty notice, although the law does not give police officers powers to confiscate a bicycle.

However, official guidance issued by then Home Office minister Paul Boateng in 1999 is that police officers should use their discretion.

In a letter to senior police officers, Mr Boateng said: “The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so.

“Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.”

Last year, transport minister Robert Goodwill, who is responsible for cycling, confirmed that Mr Boateng’s guidance remained valid.

The Association of Chief Police Officers subsequently issued a statement which said: “We welcome the re-issued guidance from the Minister for Cycling in respect of cycling on the pavement and have re-circulated this to all local forces.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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80 comments

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Bazza155 | 8 years ago
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Is it still a bicycle if it has stabilisers...4 wheels??

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bdsl replied to Bazza155 | 8 years ago
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The law against riding on the footway is from 1835 and uses the word 'carrige', not bicycle. A carrige can certainly have four wheels.

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Grizzerly | 8 years ago
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The police have no power to confiscate a child's bike. The word this plod was looking for was STEAL!

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mike the bike | 8 years ago
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There used to be an exemption in law for children cycling on the pavement, although I believe a "child's cycle" was not precisely defined.
Or did I dream this? Somebody out there must know.

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Arceye replied to mike the bike | 8 years ago
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I do thing I remember during a time at school when police visited, talking about road safety and describing cycle proficiency test, it was said that wheels 16" or smaller are allowed on the footpath.
But I guess they may have been describing what they regard are acceptable under the their discretion.

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CanAmSteve | 8 years ago
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I ride on one footpath regularly. It leads to a country pub, which from the side road I use is 50 yards away on the same side of a busy B-road (40 mph limit- often ignored).

I could cross the road, cycle along 50 yards and cross back, or dismount and walk the 50 yards. My decision is based on the presence of pedestrians (rare). If present, I dismount. If not, I cycle slowly along the footpath. Except that about 50% of the time, someone has parked across it. But hey - *that's* OK...

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Arceye | 8 years ago
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When it comes to adults cycling on the footpath, then I completely agree with the law, they should be on the road or cycle path, ( no excuses ).
As for kids, they should not even be allowed to cycle on the road until aged maybe 10 years and over due to general lack of awareness and judgement.

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Kadinkski | 8 years ago
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Yeah, yeah, whatever. It's bullshit and the parents are attention-seeking morons.

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bendertherobot replied to Kadinkski | 8 years ago
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Kadinkski wrote:

Yeah, yeah, whatever. It's bullshit and the parents are attention-seeking morons.

Hi there PC Kadinkski.

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SuperG | 8 years ago
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Unbelievable to pull over in a police car for a 4year old.

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SamSkjord replied to SuperG | 8 years ago
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That 4 year old, given a mass of 20kg and speed of 3.2km/h (walking speed) would have a kinetic energy of 8.1 Joules, equivalent to the fastest cosmic rays! Imagine the devastation if she'd hit someone.

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to SamSkjord | 8 years ago
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SamSkjord wrote:

That 4 year old, given a mass of 20kg and speed of 3.2km/h (walking speed) would have a kinetic energy of 8.1 Joules, equivalent to the fastest cosmic rays! Imagine the devastation if she'd hit someone.

Appropriate calculation for a story from Grantham!

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Simon_MacMichael replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 8 years ago
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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Appropriate calculation for a story from Grantham!

Argh, Grantham ... belatedly realise I could have got a 'Bikesnatcher' reference into the article  3

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to Simon_MacMichael | 8 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Appropriate calculation for a story from Grantham!

Argh, Grantham ... belatedly realise I could have got a 'Bikesnatcher' reference into the article  3

Though I was thinking more of the other famous Granthamian, hence Newtonian physics seemed quite apposite.

I'm very surprised Grantham cops aren't habitually armed, though, what with having to face down 4-year-old cyclists.

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Argos74 | 8 years ago
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Mr Lindley, however, is deserving of much cake. Carrying the little one, and her bike and bag to school. Chapeau!

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Mike_H | 8 years ago
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If that is true- I am sure that the Bobby's mother is very proud of him upholding the law!

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Gus T | 8 years ago
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And their Chief Constable is in the press complaining how Lincolnshire's force is undermanned and can't take any of the proposed cuts. If there were less officers like this and more doing the job correctly they wouldn't be so stretched.  14

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evojm72 (not verified) | 8 years ago
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Every time I try to remind myself what a difficult job the police have, one of them goes and does something to make me think that they're really just a bunch of tw&ts.

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kie7077 | 8 years ago
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Stupid law is clearly pointless, it is a detriment to cycling and should be scraped outright.

Cycling on pavements is dangerous? No it is not, reality shows that.

The pavement is a good place to learn cycling and gain confidence for all ages, making it illegal is a barrier to cycling.

The law against riding on the pavements was written for people riding horses, not bikes and should not have been extended to include bikes.

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SevenHills | 8 years ago
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You just couldn't make it up could you? What a fecking idiot. You really have to hope the plod is identified and charged with wasting police time.

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