BIKES ON PAVEMENTS: Police should use discretion with cyclists

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Whatever the law may be, this matter of the shared use of pavements by pedestrians and people on bicycles is not going to go away.

Government policy has at last begun to recognise that for environmental reasons and the encouragement of health and fitness, cycling, especially in towns, is preferabie to driving in cars.

We are years behind some of our continental neighbours for whom cycling on pathways is the norm.

Because there are many roads and pinch-points where cyclists riding on the roads are risking life and limb from motorists, many of us at times ride on pavements but with care and allowing those walking to have absolute priority.

Regular cyclists know all too well the pathetic “SMIDSY” excuse given by drivers – it stands for ‘sorry mate, I didn’t see you’. Not surprising when so many people are still driving while on the phone – or fiddling with radios. Not only that, but every third car has some stupid object dangling from the inside mirror to obstruct a full view of the road.

Our police have been handing out fines to pavement riders as a response to an element of public opinion which, I suspect, has more to do with anti-foreigner prejudice than concern for safety.

If cyclists have lights and a bell, and providing they are not endangering people on the path, the police should use discretion rather than clamping down on shift-workers at 5.30 in the morning.

And the highways authority should now be working to make cycling in the town easier and safer for those who forsake their cars in favour of bikes. They could well start by designating the pavement on the east side of Park Road as a cycleway or for shared use.

David Hill