Thursday, 1 October 2015

Cycling on the pavement

There are quite a few good articles and blog posts on cycling on the pavement, e.g. here.

One of the common questions is about the legality of cycling on the pavement, and as you will see with very little googling, this is covered in Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835. No, it is not legal.

"If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon; every person so offending in any of the cases aforesaid shall for each and every such offence forfeit and pay any sum not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale], over and above the damages occasioned thereby."

Oddly, I was sure I had seen more recent legislation on this, but my googling does not come up with any, so that seems to be the relevant law on the matter.

However, I was pondering this the other day - and the reasons behind it. It seems not so much that it is there to protect pedestrians - as there is already plenty of law on that including laws on dangerous cycling - but it is specific to the cases where the footpath is along side a road. Other footpaths do not have cycling automatically prohibited even if they are used by pedestrians.

I can only conclude that the logic is that the cyclist should be using the road, and not the footpath.

So I wonder what the situation is where there is a footpath alongside a one way road? In such a case, if going the wrong way, one cannot use the road. Surely if the reason for this law is as it seems then one should be allowed to cycle on the footpath alongside a road which does not allow cycling in the direction you are going.

I mean, is a road a road if it only allows traffic in the other direction?

Oh, and for avoidance of any doubt - I use the road normally, or dedicated cycle paths if they go where I want to go (and there are not annoying pedestrians wandering all over them). Shared cycle/footpaths are a bloody nightmare.

13 comments:

  1. Masses of stuff about cycling on a footpath here: http://www.bikehub.co.uk/featured-articles/cycling-and-the-law/

    Footpaths away from a carriageway - you need to go and dig through the local byelaws to find out whether it's allowed or not.

    In the case of a one way street I would assume that the answer is that you cannot cycle along it. The footway is "set aside for the use of foot traffic" and it would be no more legal to cycle the wrong way along it than to drive the wrong way along it.

    Of course, many one way streets now have cycleways created along the footway for contraflow cycles for which it doesn't appear to be a problem (in law) to cycle along them the wrong way.

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  2. I feel this is relevant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHMLMKE1tOk

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  3. Most one way roads have room for a marked cycle contraflow. As many cyclists illegally use the pavement to avoid long detours then marked contraflows make sense, especially as most one way systems are introduced to benefit motorists rather than cyclists.

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    1. I ride on a couple of these every day in my commute. Unfortunately, a very large proportion of drivers don't seem to realise that I'm actually following the road rules (despite clear markings to that effect), and some of them get rather angry.

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  4. Near where I live, they recently installed side-by-side pedestrian and cycle paths, and I agree, pedestrians wandering all over them can be a nightmare. Cycling back the other day, after being ignored when I sounded my bell repeatedly, I used my rather loud horn to alert a pedestrian wandering down the cycleway - and got shouted at for startling them.

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    1. And do those side by side cycle paths have the "let's maximize conflict" tactile paving? The stuff with the corrugations set like tramlines for cyclists - so as to make it as hard as possible to cycle over (cyclists preferring the rumble strip effect which doesn't snatch at the wheel) and to encourage all pedestrians pushing prams etc to cross over onto the cyclist side so as not to "rumblestrip" their baby.

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    2. A neighbouring section on the other side of the road has that (but it's never bothered me); the problematic area is one where the cycleway and footpath are separated by a raised kerb.

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    3. One of my commute's side-by-side foot and cycle paths has exactly the arse about face corrugations you describe, with exactly the effects you describe (plus others). They're monumentally stupid, whoever designs this crap has clearly never cycled on one of their own creations.

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    4. Generally I find it best not to alert wandering pedestrians to my approach on a bicycle, because a warning gives them at best chance to accidentally do dumb things (due to trying to get out of the way rather than standing still), and at worst hurl verbal abuse at me or try to push me off my bike. The only time it is safe to warn people is if they are obviously quite elderly (70 plus), for some reason they behave much more sensibly. Maybe upbringing, politeness, or just possible inability to move quickly.

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    5. I usually alert people if they're actually in the way, or are already wandering unpredictably. Otherwise, I try and pass them with a decent speed and amount of room that any sudden movements won't be unpleasant for either of us.

      But as I say, of the people who are already in the way, many completely ignore me until I resort to the 130dB horn, and when I do, seem very upset I had the temerity to complain about them wandering all over the cycle path.

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  5. Noting that the Act you reference was from 1835, and there do not appear to have been any amendments to the language of "riding", it would be interesting to see whether bicycles were what was in the mind of the drafters — were bicycles a nuisance in 1835? Or was the menace of riding more likely to be that of someone on a horse?

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  6. I call shared footpaths at the side of the road legalised pavement cycling as that is essentially what it is rather than proper cycle infrastructure that doesn't create conflict.

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  7. Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 as amended by Local Government Act 1888 Section 85 states ...bicycles, tricycles, velocipedes, and other similar machines are hereby declared to be carriages within the meaning of the Highway Acts... so I assume that cycles are not normally allowed to be ridden on the pavement.

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