Ban Bristol's dangerous cyclists
A tourist couple say they will never return to Bristol – because they feel menaced by cyclists in the city centre.
Disabled pensioner Eric Drummond, aged 68, and his wife Alison have been visiting Bristol from their home in Scotland every year since the 1960s.
They say they love coming to the city for holidays and to see friends, staying at the caravan park in Baltic Wharf.
But this year's visit will be their last, say the couple, who live in Edinburgh, because of the number of near-misses they encountered with cyclists.
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They claim some were riding at speeds of up to 20mph on the pavement and they were also angered by a number of cyclists performing stunts on various pedestrianised areas around the Harbourside.
They took pictures of the stunt cyclists and sent them to the leader of Bristol City Council.
It is illegal to cycle on the pavement and former magistrate and police authority chairman Mr Drummond wants officers to have a zero-tolerance policy to enforcing the law.
He believes it is only a matter of time before a pedestrian is run down and killed by a cyclist.
The city council says that in the last three years 11 pedestrians have been involved in accidents with cyclists – but that over the same period 749 cyclists were hit by cars.
Mr Drummond, who drives his electric scooter on the pavement at his wife's walking pace, about 2mph, said: "During our stay we had three or four near-misses with cyclists every day.
"It was terrifying. We were taking our lives in our hands. It got to the point where we were too afraid to go out.
"We won't be coming again. Cyclists in Bristol are a menace and we were disgusted by their arrogance."
Mr Drummond, who was at one time chairman of the Lothian and Borders Police Authority, has written to city council leader Helen Holland urging her to take immediate action to prevent a tragedy.
He sent her photographs he took of cyclists in the Centre doing wheelies on the cascade steps, outside the Watershed, and using their bikes on the wall opposite.
"This is very dangerous for pedestrians or people like me in a scooter who need to walk below that wall," said Mr Drummond.
On one occasion her husband escorted his wife on his scooter to the Commercial Rooms, in Corn Street, so she could use the pub's toilet.
"I waited outside for her, but I could not get up on the pavement because a van was parked across the point where it is lowered for disabled access," said Mr Drummond.
"So I had to stay in the street.
"A policeman drew up and said I was causing an obstruction.
"But a girl on a bike was cycling fast down past me at the same time – the wrong way down a one-way street – and the officer did nothing about it."
Mr Drummond said the police seemed to turn a blind eye to cyclists on the pavements, too.
Police spokesman Wayne Baker said: "This particular incident has not been formally reported.
"It seems likely that the man's safety would have been paramount and the officer is likely to have advised him to move on to the pavement.
"It's certainly not true that we turn a blind eye to cyclists breaking the law. We enforce the law."
Mr Drummond told the Bristol Evening Post the problem with cyclists was "everywhere in your city".
He said: "They are so arrogant and aggressive. It's any age, not just youngsters. They stick their fingers up and adopt such a bullying manner with people who challenge them.
"We saw one cyclist who nearly ran into an old lady and then started having a shouting match with her."
He said Southport, in Lancashire, which he and his wife also visit, had become a safer place since bikes were banned on pavements or controlled crossings following a tragic accident.
He said: "They have a zero toler- ance policy and it seems to work.
"I understand in Bristol that the council and others want to do something for cyclists. I used to cycle myself.
"But something has to be done about their attitude and to make sure that, where cyclists and pedestrians can use the same space, pedestrians know that and cyclists slow down."
The council says that in the last three years 11 pedestrians have been involved in accidents with cyclists across the city.
City council spokeswoman Kate Hartas said it was not possible to say how many of these accidents occurred on the pavement – or how many when pedestrians were crossing the road in the face of cyclists. She said 749 cyclists were hit by cars in the same period.
Ms Hartas said: "The council's role is to try to make the city safer for all road users.
"It is becoming increasingly concerned about the rise in pavement cycling as this introduces a danger to both pedestrians and cyclists themselves.
"It is illegal for people to cycle on the footway and the council does not condone this activity.
"But we do need to understand why they are doing it.
"In many instances it may be because the cyclist does not feel safe in traffic.
"We need to do more to make the roads safer for cyclists.
"Though there are many cyclists who ride on the footway in a safe manner and are respectful of the presence of pedestrians, there are an increasing number who show limited consideration.
"We are working with the police to try and overcome this problem.
"Some areas of the city have been identified as suitable for shared use between cyclists and pedestrians. The Centre Promenade is one of these spaces. Cycling is not illegal in this area, but dangerous cycling is.
"Cycling City is helping to address the issue with training to help people to gain the confidence needed to cycle on the road.
"Structural improvements are also planned, including many more cycle lanes and three new dedicated off-road routes.
"In parallel, the council is also pushing for more enforcement of illegal and dangerous cycling."