Like this site? Help us to make it better.


From Bath to Middlesbrough, anti-social cyclists in the firing line again

Police urged to target those who ignore the law, but not cyclists who comply with rules

Police forces across Britain are once again launching crackdowns on so-called anti-social cycling, with initiatives targeting bike riders who commit transgressions such as ignoring red traffic lights and cycling on the pavement under way in cities such as Chester and Bath, while councilors in Middlesbrough are calling for police there to tackle the problem.

While there is no doubt that a significant number of people riding bikes do ignore the law - indeed, in a poll we ran earlier this year, anti-social cycling was singled out as the one thing users were annoyed at most when it came to their fellow cyclists' behaviour - there are concerns that police campaigns could also sweep up those who do adhere to the rules of the road.

In Bath, police last month issued fixed penalty notices to 30 cylists for riding on pavements and through pedestrian areas in the city, and gave verbal warnings to 14 others, according to the This Is Bath website.

Concern over the issue led to a meeting being set up between Malcolm Dodds of the Bath Cycling Campaign, Roger Symonds, Cycling Champion at Bath & North East Somerset Council, and Inspector Steve Mildren of Avon & Somerset Constabulary, who is in charge of neighbourhood policing in Bath.

The website reported that Mr Symonds was concerned that negative publicity resulting from the police clampdown could harm Bath’s attempts to market itself as a cycle-friendly city, although he added that “ “We have been reassured by Inspector Mildren’s positive attitude towards sensible cycling.”

The meeting reportedly reassured Mr Symonds, who had earlier claimed that police were “demonising” cyclists, and his fellow campaigners over the approach officers were taking, with Inspector Mildren telling them that the police force had not adopted a “zero tolerance” approach.

The inspector added that there would be no action taken against children riding responsibly along pavements, and that cyclists not presenting a danger would simply be spoken to by officers, and advised that anti-social cycling would not be treated as more of a priority than other anti-social behaviour in Bath, such as cars parking in bike lanes or encroaching on advanced stop lines.

Campaigners agreed that those riding recklessly or dangerously on the pavement should be stopped by police.

Inspector Mildren commented: “We will continue to take appropriate action against anyone who puts other highway users in danger. I would encourage all cyclists to take care, be aware of others in their vicinity, and ride in a manner that they are in complete control of their cycle at all times.”

Meanwhile, in Chester, councilors are warning cyclists who ignore the law that they risk being prosecuted.

Shirley Wingfield, speaking for Cheshire West and Chester Council, told the Chester Standard: "We believe the majority of cyclists like all other road users are responsible and compliant with regulations and provisions made for them.

“Regrettably, as in all walks of life, there is a minority who are not compliant and this is a matter for police enforcement which we continue to work with Cheshire Police to ensure happens,” she added.

Sergeant Ian Stead of Cheshire Constabulary claimed that law-breaking cyclists were increasingly being singled out as cause for concern at public meetings, and said “our stance is safety for all, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.”

However, he said that the issue could not be addressed through education alone. “We have to educate people with what is safe on the road. We also have to be in a safe position to deal with it ourselves.

"Cyclists who break the law is something that is of concern,” he continued. “For instance, if you live in an area where your house is directly on a pavement and you step out of the door and are narrowly missed by a cyclist, it can be very frightening."

Sergeant Stead added: "Cyclists are under an obligation to consider the safety of other road users and I would like that message to be passed on."

Gurminder Marwaha, of the Cheshire Safer Roads Partnership, said that all road users had a responsibility to act in accordance with the law.

"Motorists and cyclists both have a right to use the roads - a right to safe and enjoyable travel; drive safe and cycle safe,” he explained. “All road users share a responsibility to understand each other’s needs and must obey the laws regardless of their mode of transport.”

He added: "Jumping red lights is illegal, incredibly dangerous and puts yourself and others at great risk, with potentially fatal consequences. Mutual respect and consideration make for safer and more enjoyable travel. Always acknowledging a courtesy does make a difference."

In Middlesbrough, councilors John McPartland and Pervaz Khan are calling on police to target cyclists who they claim are putting pedestrians at risk. Their call to action has been backed by Brenda Thompson, the town’s executive councillor for public health and sport.

Councillor McPartland told the Evening Gazette: “Councillor Khan and myself want to see action to put an end to illegal cycling on the pedestrian walkways and pavements in the town centre,” adding that “Middlehaven Community Council supports us unanimously in our attempts to eradicate the dangers to pedestrians.”

He claimed that “It is only a matter of time before some innocent walker is injured by one of those irresponsible and couldn’t-care-less cyclists.”

Councillor McPartland continued: “This is not a small problem - we constantly get complaints about this. At times pavements in the town centre look more like the Tour de France and what should be a safe environment for shoppers and town centre residents becomes a dangerous place.”

However, Councillor Thompson was keen to stress that the town welcomes responsible cyclists but is concerned about those who flout the law, saying: “In Middlesbrough we are huge supporters of cycling - it’s a fantastic way to get around, is kind to the environment and, of course, helps people keep in shape.”

She continued: “Making more people more active is central to Middlesbrough’s Healthy Town programme - for example, hundreds of subsidised mountain bikes are now being used by schoolchildren and adults.”

Councilllor Thompson highlighted initiatives undertaken in the town to benefit cyclists, saying “Our Cycle Centre at the Bus Station continues to lead the way in providing secure parking and changing facilities for anyone who wants to come to town on two wheels.

“But,” she added, “cyclists are no different from any other road users - we would expect them to ride responsibly and respect the right of pedestrians to use the town’s pavements and pathways free from danger.

“Those caught breaking the law will be dealt with by the police, and we will use intervention by street wardens and talking CCTV where appropriate,” she concluded.

Simon joined 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.

Add new comment


badbunny | 13 years ago

I think the police are just hitting easy targets so that they can boost their stats. I agree that daft cyclists who hoon around through busy pedestrian areas deserve a stiff talking to, however this type of personality would just go and do it again anyway, you aren't teaching anyone a lesson. They are the same type of person who rides his motorbike like Rossi through a 30 zone or drives his corsa past a school at home time like a d**k head. These people in society will not change no matter what you throw at them.

However there are areas where sensible cyclists would use the pavement. That crossroad where to go straight on I am required to cross two lanes of traffic, the city centre where my bike route ends and to get to work I either take a 10 minute detour round the busy one way system or I cut through the one way street on the pavement. I think in the main, most cyclists are law obiding but because our roads have not been designed for cyclists and our cycle routes are far from joined up there is a need to 'flaunt' the laws in order to get where you want to be without having to cross 4 lanes of traffic or argue with buses. It may not be right but when 'might is right' on the road, we tend to be the ones that loose out. I'd rather pay a £50 fine than leave my daughter without a mum.  13

PJ McNally | 13 years ago

"they don't know what its like to stand there at the side of the road, shaking in fear because someone has just shown you how they don't like cyclists and how little your life is worth."

I've experienced this too - the cortisol response where your legs turn to jelly. Eg when a car hit my trailer at maybe 20mph. (Accelerated me a lot and shook me up, but it turns out box steel beats plastic bodywork  3 ). Not due to malign intent, just bloody careless driving - which is dangerous by definition, I'd say.

By and large, following traffic laws and the Highway code is the right thing to do - but there are times when the law or code just doesn't make sense, when it's clear they were'nt thinking of bikes when they wrote it, when it would put you in danger - when you're safer doing it some other way.

Bit surprised by the "subsidized mountain bikes" mentioned in the article - is Middlesborough particularly mountainous?

keith_newnham | 13 years ago

Good!! It's about time they really clamped down on the morons who give the rest of us a bad name. There is never an excuse for riding on the pavement (unless it's designed as a shared one), jumping red lights etc.. and all it does when people do it is gives the rest of us a bad name.

I live in SW London, and see it all the time, particularly across the commons on footpaths that are clearly signed as 'no cycling', and jumping up the kerb to pass stationary traffic. (I make a point of blocking the pavement as much as possible when I see these ignorant morons!!!)

David French | 13 years ago

He claimed that “It is only a matter of time before some innocent walker is injured by one of those irresponsible and couldn’t-care-less cyclists.”

More likely that a cyclist will be injured when some dozy twit wanders out into the road in front of them without looking!

johnsat | 13 years ago

I am an Anti social cyclist. According to the CPS i am also a bad character. In 2005 a driver swerved into me knocking me from my bike. He then Drove up the road turned around and then drove full pelt at me. i managed to avoid him, but caught his wing mirror. I was arrested and prosecuted for criminal damage. He was not arrested for anything.
In 2008 I had cosh swung at me from the passenger side of a vehicle. Luckily it only hit my bag. Also in 2008 I was passed by a post van so close that its wing mirror hit my arse. I asked the driver what he was doing and he told me 'I hate cyclists, f***in w*nkrs, If i see you again i am going to run you over. Naturally, I punched him. I was told at the trial that the law says you cannot be killed by a motor vehicle and therefore cannot be afraid of being killed by a motor vehicle (Stella Massey QC). As a result of all this I am known to the police who haul me in and stop me on the street constantly. If I ever report an incident of dangerous driving, such as the chap who disliked being overtaken while he was waiting in traffic and who turned right on me hitting me with his van, the incident is ignored, or as one policewoman said 'are you hurt?' 'No, but...' 'Well, what are you whinging for?. i was hit and my bike was destroyed a couple of weeks ago. The copper who showed up half an hour later told me the CPS don't bother prosecuting in these cases because 'they happen all the time and its your word against theirs.'

The law is not something to respect, it is something to fear. the police and the CPS are driven by targets and cyclists are easy to catch. Since public opinion is driven more by the media than any sense of reality these sort of schemes are greeted with enthusiasm by the more retarded sections of society.

The fact is that cycling in this country is very dangerous. If you want to jump a red light to get ahead of traffic or ride on the pavement when things get hairy then go for it. No law is worth more than a life. The people make and enforce those laws and come up with these schemes have no experience of having their life put in danger, they don't know what its like to stand there at the side of the road, shaking in fear because someone has just shown you how they don't like cyclists and how little your life is worth.

The above examples are a very small selection of my experiences on the road. I calculate that in 20 years of riding I have been hit about 30 times and had ten times that number of near misses or close calls with idiots. I don't count mistakes by drivers, that's fair enough, I am talking about incidents with malicious intent

eddie11 | 13 years ago

its worth noting that in middlesbrough the sustrans route 1 gets funneled down a lot of these 'pedestrian' areas in the town centre.

STATO | 13 years ago

In the case of pedestrian areas your not 'avoiding dangerous roads' by using a path, your taking a shortcut thats away from any roads so you can do as everyone else does, get off the bike. I do, its not hard, i find having 2 legs makes the short walk quite easy.

Example: Northumberland Street in Newcastle is pedestrianised, with 'no cycling' signs on it and although there are plenty of alternative routes around it plenty of folks still try and cycle down it. Now this isnt a problem when its quiet (ive ridden part way up to grab a Burger King on the way home from a night ride) but during the day and on weekends its just stupid. You can hardly walk along it with everyone aimlessly walking in/out of shops and cutting across the street in all directions.

At busy times you see bikes going down the street almost taking people out and aiming for tiny moving gaps at speed. If the police are about these people get stopped and given a £50 ticket, and rightly so, but thankfully the police understand that in other areas of the town riding on the pavement alongside roads is safer and they dont stop you if you are being careful.

OldRidgeback | 13 years ago

DFT figures say 85% of accidents involving cyclsits are not the fault of the cyclist. You have to ask if the person/people responsible for this crackdown have bothered to look at the statistics on who is endangered by whom.

spaceyjase | 13 years ago

This is an easy fix in my opinion. Paint a cycle path down the pavement making it shared use. Problem solved?  3

t1mmyb | 13 years ago

I'm seeing a lot of comments from people on the news coverage saying "cyclists can't pick & choose which laws they abide by" yet drivers pick & choose all the time which laws *they'll* abide by. Except when they do it (e.g. speeding) it's about "individual driver responsibility".

The disproportionate targeting of cyclists relative to the harm they do is a symptom of a country that doesn't know what the hell to do with cycling.

Some cyclists want to be in the road; I cycle in the road because there's no alternative, not because I want to. Most potential or leisure-only cyclists want don't want to be on the road, and end up on the pavement if they cycle at all.

What's clear is that this conflict will continue while cyclists aren't accommodated properly and motorists are given the impression that they can drive without restraint.

jobysp | 13 years ago

Crikey. These people have got a lot of time to kill haven't they.

Here is a clip of a cyclist jumping a red light. Before you watch it, lets reiterate what Gurminder Marwaha said:

"Motorists and cyclists both have a right to use the roads - a right to safe and enjoyable travel; drive safe and cycle safe,” he explained. “All road users share a responsibility to understand each other’s needs and must obey the laws regardless of their mode of transport.”

Latest Comments