Calls for police crackdown on pavement cyclists
CALLS have been made for a police crackdown on cyclists who choose to ride on the city's pavements.
A campaign has been launched by groups that represent older people and residents of East Bristol in response to injuries or near-misses witnessed by their members.
Bristol was named the UK's first cycling city in 2008 but calls are being made for more work to be done to protect pedestrians from cyclists who illegally use the pavement.
Ruth Bailey, of Bristol Older People's Forum, started the campaign after meeting an elderly woman on crutches who had been knocked down by a cyclist while waiting at a pedestrian crossing.
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Mrs Bailey said: "She was left lying on the road by the cyclist, who didn't even bother to stop. She had broken the main bone in her leg and had to go to hospital, and still uses crutches.
"Cycling City Bristol can do without cyclists who cycle on the pavement and hurt pedestrians. This kind of cyclist brings shame on our city."
The organisation said that its older members were more at risk because they may not hear or see the cyclists or may not be able to move out of the way quickly enough.
Bristol Older People's Forum's calls have been echoed by East Bristol Advice and Information Centres, who said that they had received numerous calls from elderly people using the NatWest branch on Fishponds Road.
They want cyclists to be insured and to carry registration so they can be fined for cycling on pavements.
Martyn Hancock said: "We have had reports from people who have experienced a near collision with speeding cyclists who are riding down New Station Road across the pavement on to Fishponds Road using the dropped kerb installed when the bus lane was installed as part of a 'shared space'.
"We have witnessed young mums coming out of NatWest with children in a pushchair who have had to withdraw the pushchair to avoid a cyclist riding across the bank doorway.
"What recourse does anyone have if they are injured by cyclists? None."
Nadine Holbrook, 47, a carer who lives in Snowdon Road, Fishponds, said she has seen a lot of cyclists riding on the pavement along Fishponds Road. She said: "I know people who have been hit by cyclists when walking on the pavements and I think it's unacceptable. Having said that, I can almost understand why they do because I would be terrified to ride a bike on Bristol's roads."
Gordon Toogood, 87, of Eastville, added: "I've been at the bus stop by Eastville Park before and if I had stepped out I would have been knocked down. It's terrible and something should be done about it."
When the Post spent an hour on Fishponds Road yesterday reporters witnessed ten cyclists using the pavement instead of the road. Some said they only cycled on the pavement when they could not cross the road or to get up to New Station Road.
Hamish Tubbs, 32, who lives in Fishponds, was seen cycling along the pavement on a tandem cycle with his young son.
He told the Post: "I was riding on the pavement because I have a child on board.
"At some points riding on the road is safe but when there's two-way traffic and it means squeezing past it becomes unsafe and there's no other option but to ride on the pavement.
"I understand what the two groups are saying – I think if a cyclist does mount the pavement you should always be going very slowly so that you are able to jump off and push your bike at any moment."
One cyclist caught using the pavement, who would not give his name, said: "I did it because I could not cross the road. I don't do it all the time and normally cycle on the road. And if I needed to I would get off my bike or slow down."
Another cyclist who was on the pavement but would not give his name, said: "I do it quite often because it is easier to negotiate through all the bus traffic. I know it's wrong and I always try to be careful so I don't knock into people."
Police in Cardiff have been running a "zero tolerance" crackdown on cyclists in one particular area of the city after concerns were raised at a neighbourhood meeting. Any cyclists caught on the pavement received a £30 fixed penalty notice.
Sergeant Stephen Bell, of Bristol's city centre neighbourhood police team, said: "We respond to neighbourhood priorities, so if someone raises this as a concern in a particular area then we might be willing to run an operation to target that and to provide education in that area.
"When we are out and about and we see someone cycling on the pavement then we will often give them a fixed penalty notice or give them words of advice, depending on the situation.
"It is an offence to cycle on a footway but the advice we have been given by the Home Office is to only fine someone if their cycling is dangerous, inconvenient or deemed to be anti-social.
"For us it is all about education and awareness – we would rather talk to cyclists about their reasons for being on the pavement and to educate them as to why they shouldn't be there than simply to fine them – this is not a cash-generating scheme.
"We don't want to penalise everyone with a fine – sometimes a warning and a bit of education will get a better outcome.
"We also don't want to alienate people in the cycling community."
Adrian Roper, regional director for Sustrans South West, said fining cyclists is not the best way to get them off the pavements.
He said: "Of course cycling on the pavement is an offence but some of the reasons why people do it are more understandable than others.
"One of the main reasons is that they do not have the confidence to cycle on Bristol's busy road network. We need much greater investment in the cycling network in this city so that people have the confidence to ride on the road, rather than having to mount the pavement."