Guns, burglary and cycling on the pavement

Cycling on the pavement screenshot of text from police briefing

I was a bit surprised yesterday when this was put through my door. After discussing gun crime and burglary the local police briefing moves on to the third worse crime known to man. Cycling on the pavement. The briefing read:

Cycling on the pavement is a problem in a number of wards in Camden and although not so many people are cycling due to the very cold weather, the Team continue to issue Fixed Penalty Tickets where appropriate. During a very lively session on the subject at the last Public Meeting, several suggestions were put forward to help deal with this problem. For instance: – why don’t cyclists have to take proficiency tests like motorists do? Should cyclists have identifying plates on their cycles? Should there be a cycling code similar to the Highway Code, and why not make cyclists pay for a licence? So many people have been frightened or injured by pavement cyclists that all these measures could be considered, especially since the major (left in for inaccuracy), Boris Johnson hopes to extend a cycle-club scheme in London.

Is it just me or is that basically anti-cycling propaganda? The tone was set quite early on: “although not so many people are cycling due to the very cold weather” which sounds to me like “thank god not a lot of people are cycling”.

Of course as with most anti-cycling talk the availability of figures to back things up is lacking at best. “So many people have been frightened or injured”. How many exactly? How many people have been frightened by a bus nearly running them over? Or a car? I’m willing to bet its a fair bit higher. Also how many have been injured?

The suggestions are of course similarly ill informed and about as out of date as a BNP manifesto.

“Should cyclists have to take proficiency tests like motorists do?”

Cyclists are not in command of a 1.5 tone killing machine. Proficiency tests will put people off cycling. They are available to anyone who wants to take them if they feel unsafe on their bike. Motorists take proficiency tests and accidents still happen.

“Should there be a cycling code similar to the Highway Code, and why not make cyclists pay for a licence?”

A licence to ride a bike? Why not pay for a licence to walk through the park? This is the old “road tax” argument” and I feel it has been well addressed in the past.

Why not just ban cycling all together and make all cyclists drive and take a bus. That would really solve things.

Of course luckily this police briefing will probably get no further than the bin bags of various houses in Swiss Cottage. Whilst I appreciate police are busy and probably have better things to do than send out newsletters they could have at least been a bit more careful about taking sides on this issue. To think that people are having “heated debates” about cycling on the pavement when there are much more serious things like gun crime and burglary just seems a little silly to me. I’ll probably head down to the next meeting, on my bike, and see if this silly question is asked again.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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