Saturday, 19 October 2013

Why cycling on the pavement (sidewalk) is a good thing

Let me say, first of all, that this only applies to the UK.
Other legal jurisdictions are available :-)

iirc, a government minister said a while back that if cyclists were cycling on the pavement (in areas where cycling is not expressly forbidden by "no cycling" signage) primarily for safety reasons, and were polite and considerate of pedestrians using the pavement, then they should not be prosecuted, not withstanding the existing legislation to the contrary, and that all police forces were being instructed to that effect.

I think you will find that when the "no cycling on the pavement" law, like so many introduced in the past, was designed to protect the middle- and upper-classes out for a stroll from the emerging mass of working-class cycle owners, at a time when the working man, never mind women in general, did not have a right to vote (just look at the date the original law was passed).
Bicycles, which had originated as the playthings of the rich, were becoming mass-manufactured, and as costs dropped, for the first time became an aspirational and inspirational means of transport for the "normal" folks. Remember it is only post WW2, perhaps even post-1980, that the majority of folks in this great nation of ours could be described as "middle-class" - one hundred years ago things were VERY different, and that is the social environment in which the law was passed.

With so many ill-informed motorists, and even policemen, then the "safety" case doesn't take much proving, does it ....

The minister's apparent "over-riding" of the legislation generally follows the well-established legal principle of "equity" (or "fairness").
If the benefit to society of not prosecuting cyclists on the pavement exceeds the damage to society (a vocal section of society notwithstanding) of them either cycling on the road, or not cycling, then it is an appropriate measure for a minister to consider.
Given that study after study shows a substantial benefit to society and the economy (in improved health, reduced congestion, reduced air pollution, etc. etc.) from an increase in cycling, it appears that the minister has acted on the sound scientific information available.

Have you based your opinions on the same scientific information?
Or something else?

The minister's name was Paul Boateng, if that helps.

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