It’s late afternoon and you’re walking along a crowded pavement in a busy town, laden down with enough shopping bags to rival a pack mule, your arms aching, your feet counting down the steps until you reach the car park, and that’s when you hear it; the ever so soft and ominous sound of a bike chain ticking behind you before you’re shoved ungraciously to the side, as the crowd around you hastily parts to allow the culprit to speed through, leaving a trial of destruction (or highly disgruntled shoppers) in his wake.
— Irene (@iluvglitter) July 16, 2015
If you spend a lot of time in the city, you’ll probably be all too familiar with this particular breed of public nuisance, better know as Cyclists on Pavements, who are regularly sighted wreaking chaos in our urban jungles as more and more of them boycott the streets and take to our sidewalks, much to the annoyance of pedestrians.
— Pete Moring (@PeteMoring) June 18, 2015
First off, to get one thing straight, I think bikes and cycling are a great way to get around, and one our country should be taking a greater advantage of; they’re friendly to the environment, keep you active, and are a far cry cheaper than paying through the nose for a car and insurance. However, with owning and riding a bike, especially when in busy cities, there comes a certain degree of responsibility, primarily involving showing basic consideration and awareness of other road users, and of course, people on pavements.
To me, cycling on a busy pavement is the height of rudeness- when you quickly cut through crowds on your bike, without so much as a courteous bell-ring or “excuse me”, and force people to step aside- sometimes even onto the roads themselves- you’re basically saying “out my way! My time is more important than yours!”. It’s obnoxious, arrogant, and sets a bad example to younger generations of budding cyclists who grow up thinking this kind of bike etiquette is acceptable. It’s also just screaming out for an accident to happen – put a fast moving cyclists in the midst’s of pedestrian territory and it’s only a matter of time before a wrong turn or slow brake reaction gets someone hurt. Not only are cyclists on pavements being blatantly inconsiderate, but in some cases they’re also breaking the law, as stipulated in in Highways Act 1835 and could face penalties of up to £2500 for dangerous cycling.
Be warned. This film shows some disturbing images.
Injuries to cyclists
However, are cyclists on pavements a symptom of a much larger problem? Are the roads too unsafe for cyclists to use? Should there be more done to create safer routes for cyclists within towns and cities? Last year over 19,000 cyclists were injured on the roads, with over 3000 of these cases involving serious injuries or fatalities. (http://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/pedal-cyclists/facts-figures/). In recent years, as the number of people taking up cycling has increased, so too has the number of accidents, the majority of which take place in urban areas, with criticisms being levelled against car drivers for not giving cyclists the appropriate space and respect they deserve while on the roads.
It’s true that more needs to be done to educate UK bike owners on the proper way to conduct oneself while cycling in town and perhaps wider issues need to be addressed so that cyclists no longer feel the need to mount the pavements for fear of their own safety. But in the meantime, I long for the day where I can walk to university, or stroll around the shops, without the overhanging fear of being mown down by bike enthusiasts when I turn the corner. If you’re thinking of taking to the town on two wheels, then the rules should be pretty clear; wear a helmet, remember to indicate, and for the love of God, please stay on the roads.