Wednesday, 8 December 2010

If we had no rules where would we be?

Our local council has posted an item on their web site about a campaign by community wardens and police community support officers to discourage cycling in pedestrian areas around the town centre. Apparently in one week of November they issued five fixed penalty notices and "educated" four young people about the dangers of cycling in a pedestrian area.

My reaction to this is a bit mixed.

On the one hand:

I don't like to see cyclists riding on the pavement. Most of those I see doing it are young men, who are big enough to handle traffic, don't always take much care around pedestrians, and ought to know better. I can see why it worries the more elderly or parents with young children. I know it would be better for both cyclists and pedestrians if more cyclists were on the road and fewer on the pavement.

On the other hand:

There are situations where I can understand why people ride on the pavement. There are busy roads, and dodgy drivers around. I've recently learned the hard way just how vulnerable cyclists can be in traffic. So I have some sympathy with people who sometimes feel safer on the pavement than on the road.

For me the bigger issue is finding my way around a jumble of pedestrian areas and access roads in the town centre. Traffic is taken around a tortuous one-way system, and there are only a few clear cycle routes. I can easily find my way around the centre on foot but I don't often ride through it, so I don't always have a clear idea of the best way to navigate from A to B. As a result I admit to sometimes riding on pedestrian areas - just because it's easiest.

I don't want an FPN, so in future I'll have to be more clear where we are allowed to ride, and where we are not. I'll end up avoiding some of the more difficult parts of the centre.

Basically I think what I'm saying is that I approve of what they are doing to stop others cycling on the pavement. I'll do my bit, but it's all a bit of a pain and I wish the rules didn't apply to me.

They say their campaign has been a success, and I suppose this means they are right as far as I am concerned. But if I forget, make a mistake, or end up bending the rules for some reason, I hope they handle it sensibly. So far that seems to be how it is. Each day of the week's campaign they issued less than one FPN and educated less than one cyclist. That doesn't sound as though the enforcement has been too vigorous so far. Either they are being very reasonable, or there wasn't much of a problem in the first place.


Anonymous said...

If it's totally pedestrianised, then yeah, stay off, it's rude. But if it's the usual UK half-and-half, with pedestrians and buses, then there's good argument for making it bus-and-bike. Especially if the alternative (as in Exeter) is silly twisty dark remote and never used by a damn soul. It was done here. Lobby-ez vous votre council?

Stingy Jim said...

Pavement cycling is such an iffy one in the UK. Personally I do it quite often on sections of road where I know there is likely to be no pedestrians and the road is utterly terrifying. The important thing is being polite, taking it slowly and getting off if anyone does come walking along.

I suppose the same community wardens went around handing out FPN's to the dozens upon dozens of cars that will have been parked on the pavement in the same area?. Probably not!