Heroes of British cycling: Bradley Wiggins and the pavement cyclist

I loved Bradley Wiggins’ victory punch as he crossed the line on Saturday’s final time trial. To launch his fist like that, from an incredibly fast-moving and twitchy machine, having just ridden it all out for 64 minutes and 13 seconds, was no mean feat. But then nor was winning the Tour de France …

The clenched fist is a potent symbol, perhaps because it’s ambiguous. Triumphant? Defiant? Both? Wiggins’ powerful finishing pose reminded me of the work of the Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros, through whose hands the human hand is made to mean so much. This is a self-portrait …

Images are open to interpretation, but Wiggins’ closed and punching fist seems to express defiance as well as triumph. He wasn’t ‘just’ winning the Tour; he was also achieving – executing – his potential; and he was answering his critics and responding to nay-sayers too. As seems so often to be the case with Wiggins, the celebration seemed real and honest precisely because there was a touch of anger about it.

Will anger and defiance now broaden, as many more people feel inspired to get onto bikes in the wake of British cycle sport’s success?

I think it might, as people who have until now shown little interest in cycling sit up and notice Bradley Wiggins and the Tour de France, and look forward to seeing more cycling at the Olympics. I think it might, more importantly, as they pull bicycles from sheds, fix them ready to ride, and think about where to go.

This is the hope, isn’t it? That the phenomenal success of British professional cycle racers will translate into more people climbing onto bikes. Chris Boardman – a man whose cycling exploits certainly inspired me – made this explicit connection during post-Tour analysis and comment on ITV4 this past weekend.

During Wimbledon, tennis courts across Britain are suddenly in demand. Following the London Marathon, more people get out running. But cycling is different, because the majority of the environment in which cycling occurs has other things in it – and roads are especially full of cars.

Thrilled by Bradley’s success? Moved to ride? Then get outside and … and confront (and perhaps truly notice for the very first time, because now it matters to you, personally) the brute reality of roads full of speeding cars and trucks, a fair proportion of whose drivers act as if they have very little – if any – concern for your well-being.

Compared to tennis or running, then, there is for cycling a more complicated translation from inspiration to action. You might have seen the Tour, you might have been inspired, you might feel ready to ride. But where do you go?

We must beware the gap here, which only critical thinking can fill. It’s great that we’ve got a buzz around cycling, and we must certainly seek to capitalise on it. But it’s just naive to imagine that euphoria around cycling will automatically convert to a big boom in everyday cycling journeys. For that to happen, other things need to change, or rather be changed.

Velodromes and sportive riding away from the city can to some extent cater for people keen to try cycle sport. Canal towpaths, sea-front promenades and converted railway lines can cater for those wanting to experience the cycling buzz in a leisurely and rural way. But I’m also wondering whether the pavements of our towns and cities will start to teem with cyclists, trying their best simply to get around using the machine about which there is – quite rightly – currently such a hubbub.

Pavement cyclists aren’t seen as heroes, but perhaps they should be. (To be clear here, by ‘pavement’ I mean what in other countries is called the ‘sidewalk’; a space which is traditionally considered the preserve of the pedestrian (although there’s a longer story to be told there). So in Britain we are taught that pavement cycling is a problem and that it’s wrong; though in truth it is neither.) Today, Bradley Wiggins is the great hero of British cycling, and I hope he enjoys all the adulation he richly deserves. But in the meantime, the great unsung heroes of British cycling –  pavement cyclists – bravely pedal on, or try to any which way they can. They are not celebrated; they are seen as deviant, and are demonised.

Because the vast majority of people feel there is nowhere safe to ride, everyday cycling across the UK is being very effectively and very systematically blocked. Much premature talk of ‘a cycling revolution’ conveniently ignores the fact that a big majority of people are afraid to cycle, and will not start anytime soon unless something fundamentally changes. In the meantime, in most places most of the people who do ride a bicycle do so (either always or mainly) on the pavements. They ride either because they have no alternative – for example, needing to get to shift work (rendering public transport infeasible) at a location beyond walking distance – or because they actually like cycling but they just don’t like cycling in roads full of cars, trucks and buses.

I have no figures to back this up (I don’t think any exist), but I’m sure that pavement cycling is also subject to a huge amount of what transport researchers call ‘churn’, which means the life of a pavement cyclist tends to be brief. This is because to pedal through the disapproving and hostile gazes of society is difficult to do. People who want or need to cycle but who have nowhere safe to go are made to feel guilty. And cycling guiltily is no way to make cycling stick, or big, or inclusive, or aspirational. For cycling to be embraced big-time, the cyclist needs to feel welcomed, not apologetic. (The resilient cyclists – those who do stick with cycling over the longer-term – are those, like me and perhaps like you, who ride on the road, but we form a very small proportion of all cyclists, and an absolutely tiny proportion of the whole population.)

But even though pavement cycling demonstrates a huge repressed demand for cycling, it is seen as a problem rather than a potential.

We badly need to invert the standard moral tale here. According to that tale, people who ride on pavements are committing a crime.

No, no, no. These people are heroes. Any crime is in endorsing cycling but then providing nowhere for people to ride. Any crime is showing how magnificent is cycling, inspiring people to give it a go, but then dashing their opportunities to do so under half-way decent conditions – conditions which the ‘average person’ regards as acceptably safe, comfortable and enjoyable.

I hope and expect that right now, at the start of the summer holidays, there are thousands upon thousands of children across Britain who have noticed and been touched by British cycle sport’s current success. But what a travesty that the very big majority will be unable simply to jump on bikes and discover the delights of riding for themselves? Long days of summer spent exploring their neighbourhoods, let alone further afield, have been closed off to them by an increasingly car-centric society. To taste the joys of cycling, they’ll have to wait until they’re somewhere their parents deem it’s acceptable to ride. And they’ll probably be taken there by car.

There’s something deeply sad about this, isn’t there? We have rafts of policy and pronouncements in favour of cycling. And to add to this we now have a superb and historically unprecedented collection of role models – led by Bradley Wiggins, but including many other remarkable men and women – inspiring people to give cycling a go. And then we have towns and cities which are so dominated by speeding motorised vehicles that we’ve eliminated people’s ordinary habitat as a place to ride.

If we’ve got the ‘crime’ wrong, so also the punishment.

Instead of scolding and/or fining people for riding bicycles on pavements, we should be congratulating and rewarding them for giving cycling a go at all. Meanwhile, this Government should take the lead on making the changes required for people to cycle safely from their front doors, and punish any local authority which fails to adopt those changes quickly enough. Such changes include reducing the amount of urban space devoted to parked and moving cars, radically slowing down the cars which remain, and building top-quality cycling infrastructure where for whatever reason cycling needs (for the time being, at least) to co-exist with other (whether faster or slower) modes of mobility.

The Tour and Olympics combined should encourage many more people onto bikes, before realising there’s really nowhere safe to go.

Rather than giving up before they’ve even got started, which is what tends to happen, we must hope that many will find ways to cope with currently atrocious cycling conditions and – like many of the people I saw cycling during three years of research towards the Understanding Walking and Cycling project –  at least sometimes take to the pavements. (The danger is that because cycling on pavements is hard to do, most people who are inspired to cycle will not do so – they might cycle ‘invisibly’ on a Sunday morning somewhere safe, but their cycling – and more importantly their desire to cycle – will be easy to miss; their invisibility can then be used as evidence by Government that “there’s no demand for cycling, so we cannot justify spending money on it”.)

There are obvious ways to make our cities fit for cycling, but they are not being done. London journalists might believe things are changing fast, but they should get on a bike in Leeds or Worcester or Lancaster or pretty much anywhere outside of the capital. In most of these places, what we have is a huge gulf between rhetoric and reality. I’ve recently been trawling through transport policy documents produced at different levels of UK Government. Reading these, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a sustainable transport revolution – in which walking and cycling dominate our towns and cities and short journeys by car become practically obsolete – is just around the corner, about to happen.

The (excellent) aspiration of one local authority, for example, is “to make it easy to get from any part of the city to any other part of the city without using a car. Pivotal to achieving this is making sure that, when any plans are considered, pedestrians and cyclists are considered first”. But this kind of progress at the discursive level is, so far, completely unmatched with any notable changes on the ground, the place where we actually live out our day-to-day, intensely mobile, lives. We’ve had decades of empty rhetoric about sustainable urban transport, yet politicians remain intent on driving a massive, new and hugely unsustainable road through my home town.

Hordes of people suddenly cycling on Britain’s pavements might be the most effective route to building the pressure to get something done, to create safe space for cycling. If British cycling’s sporting success brings this massive tension – created by encouraging something which it is so hard to do – to a climax, we’ll have its stars and orchestrators to thank. But from where I’m currently sat, that’s a big ‘if’.

I think what’s most likely to happen is lots of fine words, rhetorical flourish, and vague and vacuous pronouncements of ‘a cycling revolution’, accompanied by very little change in the ideological and material structures which currently underpin and reproduce our society in car-centric ways. We need to do what we can to prevent this from happening, and instead make these potentially pivotal moments stick, whether it’s out of respect for cycling, respect for the health of ourselves and our neighbourhoods, respect for our towns and cities, or respect for our planetary home, the one which cycling rather than driving helps make viable.

As a tribute to Bradley Wiggins and Mod I’ll finish with the words of Mod revivalists Secret Affair, “this is the time, this is the time for action”.

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54 Responses to “Heroes of British cycling: Bradley Wiggins and the pavement cyclist”

  1. Gareth Rees Says:

    Excellent call to arms: much more clear-sighted about the prospects for success than Jackie Ashley’s optimistic piece in the Guardian. I like your paradox of the pavement cyclist as hero, facing the disapproval of society.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    The executive editor of the U.S. publication Bicycling Magazine, responding in part to a tragic story about how a family had to fight their school district to let their son ride his bike to school, said he was riding with his own son to school.

    When the racing and high performance road community starts taking time out of its busy training schedule to do such mundane but critical stuff like riding their kids to school or riding to work on everyday roads, we might see a better connection between the Tour champions and everyday cyclists. Certainly, they had better take care when they dust off that bike for the first time in ages.

    Kudos to Mr. Wiggins, his excellent lieutenant Chris Froome, and the Sky team. The UK finally has a Tour champion! I do hope this “trickles down”.

    Meanwhile, my own town is building a new municipal center–complete with a whole city block worth of automobile parking and undoubtedly, a tiny corner set aside for bike racks. Sad, ain’t it?

  3. Zandranna Says:

    Woo Hoo, I’m a hero.

    With my tricycle I do cycle on the roads as I am big and easy to be seen by motorised traffic. But with the 2 wheeler I have now started riding, I totally refuse to cycle on the roads. I will always use the pavement where no cycling infrastructure is until they build a cycling infrastructure. It’s my right to be safe and the government’s duty to provide for my form of transport in a way that will keep me safe.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Hey Zandranna, I’d give you a medal if I could! (Maybe we should have an alternative cycling Olympics, with one event being ‘pavement cycling’ – the winner is the person who cycles most graciously and gracefully from one side of London to the other; not about time (it can’t be, can it, if you cycle on the pavement? One reason we don’t see more of it is that most people are in too much of a hurry to spend time moving in such an ‘uneconomic’ fashion), but about style. Is that called ‘dressage’, when applied to horses?!)

      I’m currently tending to think much more about urban riding, but the issues of everyday rural riding are also so massive, eh? Always feel free to let me know if you think I’m missing or mis-representing them. I’d not seen your blog before, and it’s super – thanks!

      Keep riding, wherever you do it.
      All the best
      Dave

  4. Rob McIvor Says:

    Good piece. I do worry though that Wiggins will now be seen as representative of all things cycling, given his odd comments about people who don’t wear helmets when (utility) cycling being responsible for any injuries they suffer, even when hit by vehicles. I don’t want to start a helmet discussion here (PLEASE!) but I think Wiggins talking about everyday cycling is about as relevant as Lewis Hamilton talking about driving to work or Tom Daley about having a bath.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Cheers Rob. I agree. I also think that, to his credit, Wiggins is well aware of the limits of his experience and expertise, and is (generally) uncomfortable contributing to issues beyond his ken. (Though of course, he rides more than any of us, and is perfectly entitled to his opinions; and the work he has done for cycling puts him in a league of his own as a cycling champion.) My main point, though, would be that Wiggins is certainly part of the equation, the conversation, and we want him to be part of it – no-one has ‘the right script’ here; that script is one which we should all be trying to build, together.
      Cheers, Dave

  5. David Arditti Says:

    You are quite right.

    “Instead of scolding and/or fining people for riding bicycles on pavements, we should be congratulating and rewarding them for giving cycling a go at all.”

    Furthermore there is another unconventional moral argument one can use, somewhat the counterpart of this one. That is that the best thing the government could possibly do for cycling in the UK would be to ban cycling on the roads. It is already banned in practice for 99% of people, so banning it in law would bring the law into line with practice. The advantage of this would be a state of honesty about the situation, because then, if it really wanted people to cycle, the government would have to start allowing them to do so by providing traffic-free routes. It would have to start spending serious money on cycling.

    It is only conservatism in both governments and cycling groups that has prevented this effective solution from ever being considered.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Brilliant! I guess it gets back to really very important and fundamental questions, doesn’t it: who are we providing for? whose cycling are we trying to facilitate? And the (inevitable) presence of various vested interests on ‘the scene’, all with their own (historically produced) understanding and (often self-interested) stakes, leads to a rather ‘confused’ terrain, in which any possibility of ‘objectivity’ is tremendously elusive. I sometimes feel the pull/allure of ‘clean slate’ type scenarios, whilst recognising their dangers and impracticalities.

      Of course the danger of Bradley’s success, and of the success of British cycle sport more generally, is that we again reproduce cycling in elite and marginal ways, and again let widespread, deep-rooted and socio-ecologically insane car-dominated mobility off-the-hook. The big question right now then (in the wake of Tour de France success and Olympic fever) *has to be* how do we best convert cycling’s moment-in-the-spotlight into widespread gains for everyday cycling over the long-term. And what I’m mainly seeing is most people caught up in naive optimism, which is enjoyable but simply won’t do the job.

      It was great to see Chris Boardman make the connection between Tour de France success for Britain (I’ll leave consideration of misplaced patriotism, for now), and cycling as an ordinary mode of transport. But it doesn’t matter how many times people of his importance make that connection if it doesn’t also include a critical analysis of how we make the jump from one to the other. My sense is that people in London, especially, are currently caught up in the hype – that just talking about cycling, and celebrating cycling, brings about yet more cycling; there’s a grain-of-truth in that; but it’s one which is easily tempered by hopping onto a bike to make an ordinary journey across many parts of urban Britain (and, I’d argue, also across many parts of the English capital itself). We are not going to make cycling into a mass mode of everyday mobility by hype, discourse and positive representation alone! (Saying that makes me feel like a Marxist, when I’m not, really …).

      What I’m fairly sure we have to do is build conversations, and connections, in order to build a stronger shared (and alternative) ‘reality’, of what the situation is and what needs to change.

      I love your (incredibly incisive) blog! Thanks for your contribution here.
      Cheers
      Dave

  6. Henry Wischusen Says:

    I love to watch Le Tour. To see 189 riders flying down a road at 25 miles an hour with motor vehicles only there to observe and support them. I love to watch the the incredible bike handling skills of these gladiators riding in this tight group eating snacks, putting on their rain jackets and having conversations inches from their fellow competitors. Our a rider losing his back wheel in a 60 mph decent only to make a correction and keep going.
    Lance Armstrong put untold numbers of cyclists on the roads in the states. Inspired but unskillied. Bradley will add riders to your roads. Riders that will not know how to ride in traffic, riders that will imped motorists. Riders that will create a change but not something that “fundamentally changes”. To make fundemental changes those who know how to ride on the pavement must bring knowledge and understanding to those who are simply inspired.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Thanks for your comments Henry. Like you, although I’m aware that the Tour is a deeply unsustainable and car-dependent event, I love the subversion of the usual car/bike hierarchy which it creates, if only for 3 weeks as it winds around France each year.
      I have no doubt that the success of Bradley and co. will encourage many more people to buy (relatively expensive) road bikes and take to the lanes of Britain on a Sunday morning, and I’m all for that. But more important is whether it inspires people who just want to get around, but now by bike, to give cycling a go; and if it does, what we do about that, to facilitate their modal ‘choice’. And that’s less a question of training and education (though they’re important) than it is of re-structuring space, time and everyday life in cycle-friendly ways.
      Your comment has made me realise that I should have noted that I was using ‘pavement’ in the British sense; and that by ‘pavement’ I actually mean what people in the US and elsewhere refer to as ‘sidewalk’. That’s my mistake, and one which I’ll now correct. Sorry!
      Thanks very much for reading. The Tour might be over, but now we’ve got the Olympic road races – this weekend! (No wonder I’m not getting much work done!)
      All the best
      Dave

      • khal spencer Says:

        Thanks, Dave. I was reading “pavement cyclist” and it seemed to be an odd association, so I googled a few UK sites and noted that pavement cyclist in the UK = sidewalk cyclist on this side of the pond. Cheers, Khal

  7. Alastair Humphreys (@Al_Humphreys) Says:

    I have been really encouraged recently by http://www.cyclopark.com which is a great example of turning a strip of urban wasteland into a wonderful cycling facility.
    Of course that does not fix the problems of the roads, but it’s definitely a good start to getting more people riding.
    Al

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Thanks Al, I didn’t know about that, and it looks fantastic. How wonderful it’d be to have similar facilities dotted across the country? (As you probably know, we’ve got a great local facility in Lancaster & Morecambe, at Salt Ayre; but that’s ‘only’ a cycle circuit – but by itself that encourages an enormous amount of cycling which otherwise probably wouldn’t happen – especially the children’s stuff – Salt Ayre Cog Set, our wonderful local cycling club for children, is based there. Seeing what they’re doing/planning down in Kent at Cyclopark makes me think that there’s always room for more vision and ambition! Which actually, is one of the things I love about cycling – there’s so much scope to do stuff, to intervene in the world, to make it a better place … but now I’m waffling!)
      Thanks for reading. Hope things are good with you.
      Cheers, Dave

  8. Big Dave Says:

    As a cyclist and a pedestrian I hate pavement cyclists. There is no reason to be on the pavement as they, like I, should ride on the roads. It’s dangerous and in considerate, especially when cyclists come at you really fast on the pavement or sit behind you ringing their bells or huffing. I have had a few collisions with cyclists on the pavement and they have all come off worst. There should be better provision for cyclists but not on pavements.

    Whilst moaning, the other annoying thing I find a lot of cyclists do that gives us cyclists a bad name is ignoring traffic lights and no entry signs/going the wrong way up one way streets. Asking to be killed.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Thanks Dave. ‘Hate’ is rather a strong word, isn’t it?

      I know I’m in a tiny minority both as a cyclist and as a sociologist, but as a sociologist of cycling I try to explore and understand behaviours which I might at first find puzzling or unsettling, or which strike me as ‘deviant’. I have tried to show that, contrary to what you say, there are good ‘reasons’ to ride on the pavement (as also to run red lights, and ride the wrong way up one-way streets – contrary to your assertion that people engaged in such behaviours are ‘asking to be killed’, through talking to many people who do those things I’ve actually found that for the very big majority they form strategies to keep them safe; they do them precisely because they don’t want to be killed).

      Of course I am aware that cycling on pavements is in many respects ‘wrong’, and that it can cause (sometimes significant) problems for others (I have done a fair bit of research with people with various disabilities, including people who are deaf and/or blind, who have not been backwards in explaining to me the difficulties of sharing any kind of space with people riding bikes). I cannot, I’m afraid, eliminate all conflicts – what I’m trying to do is re-think and re-work some established positions (and prejudices) in the hope of opening up new ways of thinking about (and thus new spaces, and prospects, for) cycling. One of my core beliefs is that driving cars is much more problematic, in many different ways, than is riding a bicycle; bicycles have enormous capacity to be solutions to many things, but we have to find/make ways for that to be so.

      Sorry, I have no interest in ‘lecturing’, but I do reserve my right to disagree with you (and vice-versa!). Thanks for reading, and commenting – it’s much appreciated.
      Best wishes
      Dave

  9. jo Says:

    thank you so much for writing this!

    I’m new to cycling and on occasion cycle
    on the pavement as it’s safest option. I am always careful and cautious around pedestrians, happy to wait for people and have already been called all sorts.

    I feel less in the wrong now and I hope I become one of the stayers, because apart from the traffic and some stupid people, I love my bike and my newfound sense of freedom.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Hi Jo, it’s my pleasure – thank you for letting me know. And very good luck with sticking at your cycling. Best wishes, Dave

  10. Bradley Wiggins selling onions | As Easy As Riding A Bike Says:

    […] place to drive… the roads are wicked. See also the recent musings of Chester Cycling and Dave Horton about what Tour de France success might mean for ‘ordinary’ cycling Share […]

  11. david dansky Says:

    Lovely piece Dave. Completely agree that respectful pavement cycling is much more of an benign activity than driving and may often be a transitional phase in a persons cycling learning curve.
    (and you have written elsewhere your thoughts on why such a benign activity is so demonised)

    Some people may skip the pavement cycling phase, when returning to cycling, with some help from a buddy or cycle trainer. Other just have a go on quiet roads and realise that sharing the road with other people is not that scary. And yes the less scary we do make our roads feel the more people will have a go. And of course many say they will only ever ride in (centre) parks and off road, never among car drivers, so eliminating cars completely from the road may get some of these people riding and perhaps gaining confidence to eventually ride with cars.

    Others will brave the roads when alternative modes are too difficult, so now in London mixing in with Olympic traffic chaos are many new people on shiny new bikes and fleets of tourists wobbling on the hire bikes. And in some places in London there are more people on bikes than driving. So perhaps the Olympic Road Network is:

    “reducing the amount of urban space devoted to parked and moving cars, radically slowing down the cars”

    and aiding the transition for some who may never need to ride on the pavement.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Thanks David. And there’s certainly a ‘safety in numbers effect’ isn’t there (one which has been found by scientific researchers, and ‘popularised’ by CTC)? From my limited knowledge of the research in that area, it seems most of it focuses on ‘objective’ improvements in the safety of cycling as more people take to the roads to ride. But I’d be interested in the more ‘subjective’, perceived aspects of this phenomenon. Presumably what’s happening in London, to whatever degree, is people are seeing other people (perhaps including ‘people like them’) on bikes, and that’s having a normalising effect which makes it more likely that still other people will decide it’s something which they can do, and on and on. I know that’s your hope and expectation.

      As I think you know, one of my concerns with that approach (which I know is not laissez-faire, but it has a laissez-faire aspect to it, certainly in terms of active interventions in the improvement of cycling infrastructure) is that it kind of relies on the steady broadening out of an ‘elite’, and to some extent (although I know I’m inverting typical understandings of what we mean by this here) it’s a bit ‘top-down’, and certainly ‘trickle-down’. There’s just too much reliance on voluntarism (what I’d call the active agency of people, which is going to be located most in some groups more than others) at the expense of a more democratic re-structuring of space in ways which facilitate cycling for a broader range of people (I’m not thinking only of children here, but I do think children need to become a more widely acknowledged ‘bench-mark’ here).

      Obviously (?), we need both approaches, and the continuation of the kind of dialogue which keeps them in connection with one another. And you are absolutely exemplary in that regard – good man!

      ‘Enjoy’ (?) the Olympics, and hopefully catch you soon
      Dave

  12. Is it time to start calling out bad cyclists? - Page 69 - London Fixed-gear and Single-speed Says:

    […] Originally Posted by not4sale Like pavement cycling ? Pavement cyclists are the real heroes (according to Dr Horton) http://thinkingaboutcycling.wordpres…ement-cyclist/ […]

  13. juliusbeezer Says:

    We may be sure pavement cyclists are brave, because the risk of cycling on the pavement is greater than cycling on the road. As it is the roads that are contiguous, not the pavements, inevitably the roads must be crossed. The pavement cyclist typically enters road space at higher speed and from atypical angles with an inevitably increased risk of collision with other road users. Heroes indeed!
    I doubt if Bradley Wiggins’ recent achievement will inspire more utility cycling. In France, all cyclists are considered sportif, which has positive effects on their perception by drivers (don’t hit a potential TdF winner!) but tends to exclude ordinary people precisely by presenting cycling as a heroic activity beyond the reach of mere mortals.
    Whilst I would agree that keeping up with a peleton averaging more than 40kpĥ is precisely that, a lot can still be achieved by those with the mental strength to accept mundane velocities of 10-20kph. The best can certainly be the enemy of the good.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Thanks Julius. I’m not recommending pavement cycling, certainly not as a permanent means of moving around, but if that’s where people feel safest, and is the only way for them to ride, so be it. (Interestingly, most pavement cycling I have observed – and for my sins, I’ve spent a long time observing it – is as close to walking behaviour as it is to typical road cycling behaviour. The pavement cyclist ‘loiters’, has to weave, stops and starts, and rides without (the car drivers’?) sense of moving purposefully (and impatiently?) from A to B. So in some respects pavement cycling is a different category of mobility to the kind of mobility which hardened road cyclists engage in.)

      But most cyclists – including experienced road cyclists such as myself – engage in pavement cycling at some time or another, and that’s because it’s almost impossible not sometimes to do so, if you want to make coherent journeys through urban spaces which have been designed without any regard for cycling.

      I will defend both types of pavement cycling to the hilt, though they could both be eliminated through improvements to transport infrastructure in ways which facilitate cycling, rather than discriminate against it.

      Your comment about French motorists having more respect for competitive-looking cyclists is interesting (and I don’t disagree with it). To some extent, it goes against what’s been found in UK-based research though, by the transport psychologist Ian Walker – through experiments he found that motorists tended to give more space to people who looked vulnerable/novice/attractive – I think he got best treatment when he wore a long, blonde wig without a helmet! Motorists got closest to people who looked competent – the kind of road cyclists wearing helmets and travelling fast who you say get good treatment in France. Mmm, an interesting little research project there, for someone, perhaps?

      Thanks for reading, and commenting.
      All the best, Dave

  14. David Lyall Says:

    Great article, i have wondered why those riiding on the pavement are so demonised. Everyone knows why cyclists go on the pavement, because the roads are so damn scary. I cycle regularly to work, on the roads and my feeling is you have to be incredibly resillient to cycle on the road. Every day i am made to feel unwanted on my journey by car drivers who obviously believe that the road is there for them alone. Any excuse is used to demonise cyclists: not wearing helmets, jumping red lights, riding on pavements, taking up too much room, going too slowly etc etc. So in the end perhaps it doesn’t matter where or how you ride your bike, you’re going to get it in the neck anyway. We should all get on our bikes and ride. Wherever we want.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Thanks David, I agree completely with your comments, which are very much in tune with what we found during our research on the Understanding Walking and Cycling project – across most of Britain, only a hardcore of people are – as you say – resilient enough to continue to ride on the roads, and recognising the reality of this situation raises a set of key questions which need to be asked by those of us interested in dramatically changing the situation. The need to become resilient, if you are to cycle in urban Britain, is very worrying – because it challenges the idea that any jumps in cycling which might be trumpeted (such as the current jump in cycling in London) are sustainable. Perhaps some of those people who are jumping on bikes will learn the skills and strategies needed actively to enjoy urban cycling, and so to persist with it; but what about all the others – what happens to them, and what happens to their (potentially very negative) experiences? As campaigners, we are very good (perhaps, I think, too good?) at telling one another stories about how cycling is improving, growing etc. What I’d like to see is some research into the other side of those stories – the stories which people who have tried cycling, but for many different reasons have given up on it, tell – and the potential effects of those stories. In a very scattered (i.e. it wasn’t one of our primary research questions) way, I came across some such stories during qualitative fieldwork about cycling in Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester and Worcester – and one conclusion which I have reached is that there are an awful lot of ‘never try cycling’ stories in circulation. (The circulation of such stories is all part of how dominant ideologies persist, and the emergence of alternative ideologies requires strategies to contest and break them up.)
      Thanks for reading, and all the best
      Dave

  15. Christine Cox Says:

    Great article. My son Daniel was killed at Dalston Junction, London last year by a left turning lorry driver who had stopped in the advanced cycle box, leaving little room for Daniel to wait safely at the lights. Most junctions are not safe for cyclists; cycle lanes and advanced stop boxes can lead cyclists into danger. If Daniel had come off the road and waited on the pavement, he would still be alive.

  16. Dave Barker Says:

    Hi Dave
    very thought-provoking – hence one or two observations which I would not have made if you had not written this.
    First, I would have described myself as both a non-pavement cyclist and as opposed to the practice; in fact, looking honestly at my behaviour, I have been, like you, a sort of limited, opportunistic pavement cyclist for maybe thirty years, and still am – ever since commuting into Manchester became both hazardous and unpleasant; and pavement cycling was a necessary strategy to cobble together safer and more enjoyable routes.
    Second, there is an increasingly messy border-line between the official/legitimate and the illicit as we are getting more shared-use facilities; the signing of these is inherently unclear and ‘misunderstandable’ (on the part of motorists, pedestrians and bike-riders); and we’re probably getting some ‘facility-creep’ as cyclists use sections where cycling is unlawful to access sections where it is now lawful; or as they they leave official sections. And
    Third, casual observation over the last few days have brought home to me how dangerous it is (or potentially is). I totally accept Christine Cox’s argument that, adopted as a limited, very deliberate strategy, it can make you safer. But many pavement cyclists look much more cavalier than this, especially as they cross road junctions (in one case with Staffordshire Bull Terrier trotting happily alongside). It has occurred to me that here we have situation a bit like illicit drug use. We train people and have manuals on how to ride lawfully and ‘vehicularly’; But because pavement cycling, like soft drugs, is illegal we can’t even start suggesting to people how they might do it more safely because we would be colluding in crime/sin.

  17. Dave Barker Says:

    the ‘and’ at the end of para 3 was intended to introduce something along the lines of: once that which was unlawful becomes lawful under certain circumstances/conditions/in certain places, the absolute prohibition (in people’s heads) becomes that bit weaker.

  18. patrick Says:

    An adult trying to travel by bike on a side-walk presents a double tragedy.

    First they are spoiling an amenity, bringing the need for vigilance into space that is not just for walking but also useful for day-dreaming, gossiping, letting toddlers wander. Perhaps it’s because motor-free space is given so little value in our culture that this amenity problem is obscured by criticism of pavement cycling as a public-health problem? ‘Nearly’ and ‘almost’ are the road-safety bugs two favourite words and the number of life-years – or working days – lost by people knocked down by cycle-traffic on the foot-way don’t amount to much. People trying to travel by bike on the foot-way are not much of a public-health problem but they are a serious amenity issue.

    The second tragedy is that someone is trying to travel by bike and finding it slow, awkward and dangerous. A classic crash is a person – usually a teenage boy – coming off the foot-way at a junction and being hit by a person turning in a car who wasn’t expecting a vehicle to move into their path. I have a near miss around once a week as I push a bike out of my front gate into the path of some poor victim trying to ride along the foot-way.

    It’s hard to generalise. In low-density suburban development, where there are no pedestrians and road junctions and entrances are few, riding on the foot-way might be more practical and restful for a nervous rider with status-issues about riding on the road? But round here – London E8 where cycle travel is pretty normative – adults trying to travel on the pavement are a tiresome nuisance, not least to themselves.

  19. Rob Inbucks Says:

    A really thought-provoking blog.

    There are two types of footway cyclists: those who lack the confidence/bravado to ride on the road and those who are confident on the road, but occasionally find it more convenient and direct to use a short section of footway, e.g. to avoid a complex junction or traffic light delays.

    The first group are frequently to be seen on ill-fitting bikes, seldom wear helmets and rarely show lights after dark. Often they cycle because it’s their only option and it’s quicker than walking. I suspect that they resent it and dream of the day they can afford a car.

    As our roads have become more crowded (28 million cars and counting), the majority are increasingly using their cars for the shortest journeys. The acceptable walkable distance may be only a few hundred metres for many. The consequence is that footways are emptier – maybe it can be argued that if more people want to drive they can cede their right to using pedestrian footways to cyclists?

    My beef with using legitimate shared-used footways is that it’s virtually impossible to have a flowing ride. Having to give way at every junction when tracking parallel to a main road can be really tedious.

    I think there’s a middle ground between toughing it out on the busiest urban trunk roads and dodging pedestrians on footways. In most urban settings, there is usually a relatively quiet residential road running parallel to the main road. If these can be joined up to create coherent routes, with good permeability for cyclists (but not motorised traffic – i.e. rat run-proof) then we would be onto a good thing. They would need to be signposted (relatively inexpensive – probably less costly than all that paint on the carriageway). A scheme I have been involved in campaigning for in Bucks has been costed on the basis of £100 per junction for signage.

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  21. Tim Murphy Says:

    This is a VERY refreshing article.

    I read online discussions on cycling alot. There are so many cyclists who add disclaimers on their comments along the lines of:
    “I never jump red lights, I never ride on pavements etc.”

    I just can’t understand what world they must be living in…
    While I advocate safe and disciplined riding, the fact is that most people ride how they see as safest, and often that is on the pavement.

    In my town there are stretches of pavement which are de facto cycle lanes (not shared use, just pavement). In particular there are a few level crossings in my town. These have advanced stop lines at the front.

    When the traffic has had to wait for 2 or 3 trains, the motor vehicles can become palpably impatient (revving etc.) and no sane cyclist remains on the road in front of them. Pavement cycling is the rule given that it’s difficult to negotiate back into the queue of traffic once it has started moving.

    Anway, I’m just saying this is the read world! And I’m a bit fed up of people who appear incredibly proud that they never cycle on the pavement.

    Pavement cycling is an essential item in the cylists’ toolbox. Of course it’s more for timid beginners and for dangerous conditions, nevertheless it’s there when you need it.

  22. Ian Says:

    The more cyclist that use the roads the safer they will be. In Holland motorists expect cyclists to be on the road and are much more aware and considerate. However, cyclist need to follow road traffic laws such as not undertaking vehicles or riding up on the pavement to avoid a red traffic light, which; both are extremely dangerous both for them and pedestrians – but they still do it. So, please leave the pavements to the pedestrian.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Thanks for your comments Ian. On the whole, I’m a good deal less interested in what cyclists ‘must’, ‘should’ or ‘need’ to do, and much more interested in what cyclists actually do, and then in exploring and explaining those actual cycling practices. As a sociologist of everyday life, I believe strongly that people draw on and enact common sense in the things they do, and it’s important that we uncover and discuss that common sense if we want hope of things being done differently.
      Thanks for reading. Best wishes
      Dave

  23. ianking Says:

    Shame you didn’t like my recent comments – a cyclist’s actions whether on the road or the pavement affect other people remember. So perhaps a bit more concern for them rather than always calling it for the cyclist please.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Hi again Ian. What makes you think I didn’t like your recent comments? Hey, I like all comments! It means that people are at least looking at (and hopefully, reading) what I’ve written! (I don’t always get around to responding straight away, because I tend to only check my blog once/day, and only when I’m working – and as someone who loves cycling, I try and make a fair bit of time for not-working … although I like to consider riding my bike a kind of work …!)
      I’m well aware that cyclists’ actions have effects. Because I try to incorporate understandings and analyses of power into my work, it’s fair to say that I’m more concerned with and sympathetic towards, on the whole, the effects which they have on more vulnerable others (so particularly people moving more slowly on the pavement and/or in shared space) than with their effects on less vulnerable others (such as the occupants of those potentially lethal motorised metal objects which we have incrementally given too much right to the city) (although there’s of course an important set of questions around what – precisely – constitutes ‘vulnerability’ here – e.g. I once had a go at a motorist who threatened myself and my children with his driving behaviour; as he sat listening to my rant, inside his car with his three children, he quite legitimately pointed out that I was upsetting his children with my anger …). I have done a good deal of research with people with various disabilities which make pavement cycling especially problematic, and I am very concerned for their perspectives.

      But there’s an important set of questions about social change here, about the kind of society we want (to try to bring about). And here I’m unapologetic. Some things always trump others. If we want (and I do!) a society which is increasingly organised around the bicycle, then that society must increasingly move away from its current organisation around the car. This requires space to be reassigned from one (the car) to the other (cycling). I think pedestrians will benefit from this too (although many of them might have to become less car-dependent than they might currently be).

      Finally, you seem to be angry with me (?!), but I’m not sure why. Am I ‘always calling it for the cyclist’? I personally don’t think so. I do think that we live in a world in which different mobilities must co-exist, must somehow be governed/organised, and in which (some degree of) conflict is inevitable; and I do believe that the current structuring of those mobilities is deeply problematic, political, unjust and unsustainable, and that they should be re-structured according to fairer, more democratic, more sustainable, and more enlightened/convivial principles. But in the piece of writing on which you’re commenting I am not arguing for pavement cycling, although I’ll admit to be defending (whilst trying to explain) it as a strategy which makes a lot of sense, given the way the UK’s mobility system/s is/are currently (dis)organised.

      But feel free to give me more comments! I always like comments, and I always respect your (and anyone else’s) right to disagree with me!
      Thanks for reading, and best wishes
      Dave

  24. Ian Says:

    Excuse my earlier haste.
    Is cycling becoming a religion ?

    • Tim Murphy Says:

      “Is cycling becoming a religion ?”

      Well. The number of devotees is growing; it could be the salvation for our traffic-choked cities; Plus, Lance Armstrong seems to be getting crucified recently.

  25. stromatoliteful Says:

    All activities have their dangers but cycling does seem to get alot of problems and flack I suppose because it doesn’t have its rightful home on the road or on the pavement. Cycle paths and tracks are a step perhaps in the right direction.
    There is a certain irony IMO that professional cycling which is done away from traffic on rolling road blocks, has an influence on cycling in general and people need to realise that they need to know the dangers on the road, because of this I understand why some people are on the pavement cycling.
    This is a very well put article you have written here, It has alot to think and ponder over for me.
    Thanks Ben

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Hi Ben, thanks very much for reading, and for your comments.

      Yes, cycling doesn’t have ‘a home of its own’ in the UK, unlike the Netherlands, where you generally feel like you know your place, and it’s a pretty good one. Personally, I have no strongly principled and settled position here – on the one hand, I like the idea of cycling having a clear place of its own, so that everyone (whether they’re riding a bike or not) knows where cycling belongs; but on the other hand, it’d be very nice if all people and all modes could mix respectfully, co-operatively and reasonably unproblematically. (There are echoes of other, broader, debates here – especially those around multiculturalism.)

      I think like most people who’ve thought about this a little bit, my current position tends towards seeing a hybrid model as best – civilised mixing of modes where possible (through measures such as elimination of motorised modes from central urban space, speed reduction (I’d like maximum urban speeds to be 20 mph, and often much less), and a big cultural challenge to motorised modes’ “right to the road”), alongside the provision of dedicated space for cycling (away from both motorised modes and walking/horse-riding) in places (such as key arterial routes (likely to be popular with cycle commuters) and inter-settlement roads) where the speeds of motorised modes (and so also cycling) are likely to be higher.

      I think that until cycling is more clearly ‘structured into’ our mobility environment, and thus more clearly legitimised, we will continue to have today’s rather haphazard and confused situation, whereby some people don’t know where they’re meant to be riding, and most will simply use their common sense (and survival instinct) to cycle in ways they consider appropriate. Generally I’m all for a bit of anarchy in the absence of good government; but I’d rather have good government if that’s the best way to democratise cycling, which I believe it is.

      Nice blog! Keep up the good work.
      All the best
      Dave

  26. paul hainsworth Says:

    pavement cyclists are criminals , fact
    the police refuse to treat them as such so more and more of them think they can cycle on the pavement, even when cycle lanes are provided,
    pedestrians should start walking on cycle lanes and see how the few cyclists who use them react , then and maybe only then will the police react to an ever increasing problem ,
    if you dont want to cycle on the road why not walk ? simples

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Hi Paul

      Thanks for your comment.

      I disagree with you in so many ways, I’m not sure where to start! (Although I probably disagree more with your implicit sentiments – which seem to reflect a strong hostility towards cycling, or at least people who cycle, as well as a refusal to see cycling’s potential – than I do with your actual words, and particularly your endorsement and encouragement of non-violent direct action. In the article on which you comment (I’m not sure whether you’ve read it?) I was trying to suggest that people who cycle on the pavement are undertaking the same kind of non-violent direct action; increasingly told that cycling is a good thing, and something which they should do, and anyway with a need and/or desire to do it, they confront and must somehow negotiate an environment in which it’s often difficult and sometimes impossible to cycle whilst maintaining a subjective feeling of security. To cycle on the pavement (however occasionally and momentarily) is one obvious, pragmatic and sensible response. (I accept that it would theoretically be possible to encourage a culture whereby people doing this actually dismount and push their machines, which I’m sure you would like to see. However, that gets us towards the territory of your final comment, when you say “if you dont want to cycle on the road why not walk ? simples”.

      I agree it is quite simples, *if* we want to eliminate cycling. You might want to eliminate cycling. I don’t. Nor does the Government, allegedly (and luckily for me). And nor does a growing range of advocates (some might be ‘obviously’ cycling advocates, but an increasing number are less obvious candidates – for example, health practitioners concerned by the outrageous and growing levels (globally) of traffic casualties and obesity, and urban planners and policy-makers concerned with the gross levels of congestion and pollution, and lack of sustainability, of cities). Although it felt like it was going that way across the second half of the twentieth century across the world’s most affluent societies, it now then seems less likely that cycling is a mode of mobility which can simply be extinguished. More and more people are seeing that there are more and more reasons not only to preserve, but to promote, indeed actively to produce, it. It is a solution. Although it is of course more complex, I’d say it’s better to understand why people cycle in potentially problematic ways, so that we can change things, and make them better for everyone – and especially, in the first instance, for those who choose to move around sustainably – that is, on foot or by bike. If they’re serious about sustainability at least, advocates of walking should be careful to align themselves more closely with advocates of the bicycle than with advocates of the car (who will tend to keep the world as it is – reasonably convenient if you ‘choose’ to move by car, pretty atrocious if you ‘choose’ to move on foot or by bike).

      Thanks very much for reading, and for taking the time to comment. I don’t expect you to agree with me (my assumption is you’ll vehemently disagree), but I’d like you to consider that – even whilst some forms of current cycling are problematic – cycling is more generally a mode of mobility which we’d do well to support and encourage, as we seek to re-make our world in more convivial, human-centred ways.

      Best wishes
      Dave

  27. Jane Says:

    Thanks so much for standing up for the vilified pavement cyclist. Non cyclists don’t seem to get that you are trying to improve your life expectancy, not cause a nuisance. I don’t like annoying people, but I’d rather be annoying than dead. If people want to see a country where no one cycles on pavements they should go to Holland. Most people cycle but none on pavements. Are they super well-behaved or massively fined for pavement cycling. No they just have appropriate and safe spaces provided for them to protect them from the dangers motorised vehicles inevitably pose so have no need to use pavements.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Hi Jane; you’re very welcome. Pretty much every person who cycles in Britain who I’ve ever spoken to sometimes cycles on the pavement; I’d say it’s an essential strategy for anyone trying to move through contemporary British urban space by bicycle; so it’s absolutely bizarre that this practice is so demonised (and so little understood) at the very same time that many people are being so upbeat about cycling and seeing it as something which it’s obviously ‘good’ to do. Currently cycling is a practice which government encourages people to take up, despite it being almost inevitable that by doing so you will become a ‘law-breaker’, and be broadly deemed to be ‘anti-social’. Ho hum …
      Thanks for reading
      Best wishes
      Dave

      • tim Says:

        I just went to Cottbus in eastern Germany.
        There is a very big utility cycling culture. In fact, it almost seemed like The Netherlands.

        While the roads and cycle paths seemed pretty good (especially cycle paths between towns), pavement cycling seemed very prevalent and totally tolerated.

        I guess it’s because every demographic was doing it. Nobody would think: “grr, these callow young people wildly cycling on the pavements.”
        or: “grr, these annoying old plodders cycling on the pavement.”
        With everyone doing it at some point, nobody felt adversarial to pavement cyclist when they met them, because they could identify with them.

        That’s how i perceived it anyway.
        It was a very nice cycling environment (apart from the fear of getting your wheel stuck in a tram track).

  28. Suze Says:

    Pavement cyclists are heroes – are you kidding? A friend of mine is seriously visually impaired; most people have no idea how hard it is these days to get around a big city if you are blind. She has been hit by pavement cyclits and sworn at for being in their way. She is a hero to me, pavement cyclists are mostly anti social thugs. Sorry if that does not accord with your idealised view of them but it is the view of most people who, like me , neither cycle nor have a car, but have to get around by public transport and a lot of walking.

    A neighbour who is in her late eighties was knocked down by a pavement cyclist and now is nervous every time she goes out. She does not deserve to be made so afraid just for walking on the pavement.

    I know so many elderly and frail people who are made anxious by these selfish people, most of whom are young and fit themselves, but who are now too afraid to say anything, having been threatened and abused when they did.

    Maybe riding at speed through pedestrians and swearing at any one who says anything to you is your idea of a hero but it certainly isn’t mine.

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Thanks Suze for your thoughts. No, I’m not kidding – that’s why I spent considerable time and effort attempting to explain why I regard pavement cyclists as heroes. I have done a great deal of research, both with people who ride on pavements as well as with many people with many different kinds of disabilities for whom pavement cycling is a problem. I thought I made that clear in this article, and in other articles. The vast majority of pavement cyclists are not ‘anti social thugs’; that is the stereotype of them which is perpetuated by (not only, but including influential) reactionary journalists, and which is contrary to empirical evidence. So I must say that it is your view, not mine, which is idealised.

      I am not saying pavement cycling is never a problem; of course it sometimes is. I am not saying some people don’t suffer more than others due to pavement cycling; of course they sometimes do. If you want to read more about what I’ve found, via research with people with various disabilities, about this issue, perhaps also read my post ‘Cycling struggles 7’, which you can find here. What I want to do is break us away from the vulnerable accusing and attacking the vulnerable; there are multiple vulnerabilities around mobility and immobility in the contemporary city; and those who are made vulnerable by contemporary conditions ought to join forces and fight together against the dominant oppressions (mainly, I believe, speeding motorised traffic) rather than fight amongst themselves. Of course people who cycle should be aware of the vulnerabilities and needs of those around them; but in a similar way I think it’s also important for people to become aware of (and thus, perhaps, to understand and have some sympathy towards) the sensible reasons why sensible people choose sometimes in some places to cycle on the pavement.

      Thanks for reading, and making time to comment. I’ve no doubt you weren’t expecting me to agree with you, but I hope you’ll continue to read, and to think about cycling.
      Best wishes
      Dave

  29. Alan Bryan Says:

    “Wiggo” was born in Belgium.Just a bit of info.x

    • Dave Horton Says:

      Thanks! Born in Belgium but still British through and through, I think! (I’d always assumed I wasn’t much bothered about nationalities, but I have to admit to finding Chris Froome ‘somehow not quite British’, even as he is celebrated for winning Mt Ventoux (and within a week perhaps the entire Tour) ‘for Britain’. A great cyclist, a seemingly very nice person, but I think the Kenyans should claim him in a way the Belgians never could Sir Wiggins!)

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  31. nicholas baigent Says:

    I would not agree unless the situation of at least two groups of pedestrians can be satisfactorily addressed – I have personal experience of both. First, any carer of a frail elderly person (or merely a frail person) will know, it is terrifying to face cyclists on pavements. A very small clip by a handlebar on an item of clothing can cause serious injury to the frail. In the elderly community in which my late mother lived, several people did not want to go out in fear of cyclists on pavements – ask Age UK if you don’t believe me.

    People with back pain also fear a slight push or shove, and 60% or so will suffer in this way during their lives. Those suffering from back pain, like many elderly, will often not be able to take evasive action quickly enough faced with pavement cyclists unless they inflict severe pain on themselves.

    And in case you think these are only eccentric concerns of a small minority, just a few years ago in my local authority area (Tower Hamlets, East London) a survey commissioned to establish policing priorities had cycling on the pavement in the top 3 concerns of the population.

    What really bugs me about the way cyclists argue in favour of being allowed to cycle on pavements is that they rarely if ever address the concerns of pedestrians. It is all me, me, me …

    I hope this will elicit a serious attempt to address the concerns of those who would be harmed by allowing cycling on pavements.

  32. mn Says:

    Yesterday, when walking in my local area, I encountered lots of flyposters attached to lamposts (labelled with ‘metropolitan police’ logo, but I’m suspicious as to whether its really official) warning cyclists not to cycle on the pavement.

    I have to say these posters infuriated me. Because in more than a decade of living in the area and walking on this street every day I have never, ever, not once, seen a cylcist on this partiuclar pavement.

    Which isn’t at all surprising as its both very narrow and a very steep and demanding hill. The only cyclsts you see on that road are hardcore ultra-fit lycratypes, who don’t, generally ‘do’ pavements.

    Now, a couple of miles away (on the same route I often walk and used to cycle) you _do_ get lots of pavement racers, who tend to be hoodie wearing youths. I’ve had serious run-ins with them myself. But not in the place where the flyposters were.

    In this location the posters came across just as a pointless expression of hatred of cyclists.

    Significatnly, there are no flyposters warning motorists to obey the speed limit or not to accelerate when lights go from green to amber, not to ‘enter the junction before their exit is clear’, or not to park on the pavement, or not to block the side roads with inconsiderate parking – all of which are far bigger problems here.

    Having said that, and acknowledged that a lot of complaints (including some of those above, I suspect) about pavement cycling are in bad faith, being really from petrolheads who just hate cyclists and who commit far,far, more serious offences themselves when behind the wheel (including driving on pavements, something I encounter fairly often), I don’t agree with cycling on pavements.

    Its just not on for cyclists to bully pedestrians because motorists bully cyclists. That would be like shouting at your kids because your boss shouted at you. The aim should be to reclaim the roads from the motorists who have stolen them.

  33. mn Says:

    Pavements are for pedestrians, but it also needs to made clear that roads and pavements are throughfares, not storage spaces for motorists; ever-larger personal possessions.

    Pavement parking is a bigger problem for pedestrians than pavement cycling, and its increasingly encouraged by councils painting parking bays on pavements that leave insufficient space for two pedestrians to pass each other.

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