Over the past five years, almost half of the fines handed out in Suffolk for riding on the pavement were issued in Ipswich. Campaigners say that this is because a high volume of traffic and poor infrastructure are making cyclists feel unsafe on the roads.
Of the 57 fixed penalty notices issued to cyclists for cycling on footpaths, 28 were handed out in Ipswich, reports the Ipswich Star. Riders were most commonly fined on Westgate Street, Tavern Street, St Helen’s Street and Elm Street.
The 2011 census found that the Ipswich built-up area had a population of approximately 180,000 against 669,000 for Suffolk as a whole. The town with the second highest number of offences was Newmarket with 14 fines and this was followed by Lowestoft with five.
Kevin Ablitt, of Cycle Ipswich, believes that the high proportion of fines handed out in reflects the fact that many cyclists feel unsafe on the town’s roads. “In certain footpaths people are not sure where they are and are not allowed to cycle. There are also not enough cycle paths in Ipswich, so people will make their own choices.”
As an example of poor infrastructure, Ablitt pointed to a recent test conducted along the Norwich Road/Chevallier Street/Valley Road junction where the off-road route was found to take a cyclist four times longer than the road route.
Organisers of the World Naked Bike Ride are planning to bring their event to Ipswich next year, building on their success in Clacton and proposed rides in Colchester and Chelmsford later this year. The rides are intended as protests about the lack of infrastructure for cyclists and as a call for safer roads.
Inspector Jane Coe from Ipswich North East said that pavement cycling was frequently a concern raised with neighbourhood teams. “A cyclist can reach significant speed, which can not only pose a risk to pedestrians but also themselves if they are involved in a collision. However our aim is to educate cyclists and discretion is used by officers in every case.”
Earlier this year, a police officer in Lincolnshire reportedly threatened to confiscate a bicycle that was being ridden on the pavement by a four-year-old girl. Her father was forced to carry her and her bicycle, as well as other items, for the remainder of their journey.