CYCLISTS: England needs fresh, new spirit

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John Spitfire rightly says that cyclists riding on footways may escape fixed penalty notices (Readers’ View, July 4). True, but the police can still initiate summonses to court, where defendants can try their pleas on the magistrates.

Rules about riding on footways are a matter of law; but the job of the police is to apply the law.

Years of failure to address the footway riding problem have allowed it to grow out of control.

Wrong assumptions about permissibility have become entrenched.

In effect, a new law has crept stealthily into place. That’s a dangerous trend for society.

The police now have the substantial task of putting the real law back into place.

Perhaps that’s best tackled through more many small-scale efforts at random times and in random places until order is restored.

It will cost both police and the court system, but that’s the penalty of letting things go. It shouldn’t be an excuse now.

Meanwhile, if the law needs changing, political means exist.

But larger questions are prompted. Cycle tracks are repeatedly mentioned. Countries we might like to think ourselves equal to, have decent cycleway systems: we don’t.

People in those countries have a natural pride in their built environment, and accept the cost implied. We seem to lack that pride. Our often disgraceful footways and pot-holed roads, and our lack of cycle ways, is mainly due to our unwillingness to meet the cost. We consistently vote for public shabbiness by voting for whoever promises us lowest taxes.

I’d like to see a change in our public mood. For example, how about a well-prepared local ten-year plan to establish a pretty decent cycleway system in Spalding, with costs honestly predicted, and the effect on taxes made clear.

Implementation would have a tax impact, but I believe we should face that with a determination not to go on with our past routine acceptance of shabbiness. England needs a new spirit, and a spirit of genuine pride wouldn’t be a bad one.

John Tippler