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Prom cyclists face prosecution

You would be forgiven for thinking a nice cycle ride along your local promenade could soon be a thing of the past.

Having seen Portsmouth councillors banning riders, and Bournemouth imposing a strict 10mph speed limit along its prom, Weymouth cyclists are the latest to be hit.

Council chiefs and police are cracking down on anyone caught cycling on Weymouth seafront after police had previously said they would take a ‘common sense approach’ to cycling on the prom.

Police and council officers are stepping up patrols after receiving an increasing number of complaints about the number of cyclists who persist in using the Esplanade. And anyone caught cycling there after this Saturday will be taken to court.

A council spokesman said: “A public consultation resulted in cyclists being banned from the seafront altogether. The byelaw was relaxed during the consultation, which may have led some people to believe the relaxation was permanent and that cycling was allowed.” Why the public consultation was held in the first place is less clear: when we spoke to the council they told us that it would probably have been flagged as an issue due to numbers of complaints, rather than accident statistics.

The move comes after ‘growing concern’ expressed by Partners and Communities Together (Pact) groups, local residents and tourists regarding cycling on the promenade.

But members of the Dorset Cyclists’ Network said the decision could leave cyclists in danger as they are forced to take to the roads instead.

The network’s chairman Michael Evans, said: “It’s a shame that the council cannot find a way to allow cycling on the seafront side.

“The Government, including local government, actively encourages people to use bicycles instead of cars for fitness and exercise reasons as well as for the environment.

“Now that cycling is banned there it will only encourage cyclists to take to the busy main roads, which is more of a danger for them.”

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s spokesman for community safety, Councillor Ian James, said: “It’s important that people are made aware that the ban on cycling along the prom is still very much in force.”

Cycling along promenades is a contentious issue, particularly during the summer months, and the law regarding it seems is something of a grey area. Twenty year bans in Bognor Regis and Edinburgh have been lifted, and a ban on cycling along Morecambe’s promenade was lifted two years ago.

The CTC would like to see more promenades in the UK open to cyclists and advise local councils to make their decisions with consideration for pedestrians and other users of the area and to look at how it works in other places.

CTC’s network of local campaigners - Right to Ride Reps - are working with local councils to open up other promenades to cyclists. There are currently campaigns in Portsmouth and Llandudno.

A list of promenades open to cyclists is available from the Cycling England website, at www.dft.gov.uk/cyclingengland