Police cracking down on cyclists in London’s parks

Cyclists in the park

A few weeks back, I was trying to become a little less pasty, by catching the sun near the Highgate Ponds in Hampstead Heath. Being a people (and bike) watcher, I observed the number of cyclists pedalling past. All of them were riding respectfully around pedestrians, but you could see it was frustrating for pedestrians. They had to perform that classic dance move, where they are not sure whether to walk left or to the right. All the cyclists, including the one in the picture above with his daughter, were breaking the law.

Later that day, I returned home and discovered that a cyclist had been arrested for pedalling through Hampstead Heath. They spent the night in jail, after refusing to give their details to police. The next morning, the judge told the City of London Corporation to drop legal action against the cyclist. A night in jail being punishment enough.

Green park cycle paths

A reader also reported that £50 fines were being handed out by police to cyclists pedalling through Green Park, from Piccadilly to The Mall. This is a commonly used path by cyclists but once again, it violates Byelaw 13. The law, which has been in existence since 1933, forbids using a bike when there’s a no cycle zone sign.

Additionally, I’ve recently spotted signs in Primrose Hill, stating that plain clothes officers were patrolling the park and would be handing out fines for any cyclists pedalling through the park.

The Royal Park executive agency is responsible for many of London’s largest parks. The parks have the potential to provide safe routes through the capital. Hyde Park in particular provides a great North to South route, avoiding the busy Park Lane. The route that crosses Hyde Park from East to West is also excellent, providing a very different cycling experience than most are used to.

Unfortunately, the Royal Parks executive agency has been slow to respond to the growing demands of cyclists. A small step forward, such as the cycle route that runs through part of Regents Park, took many years of campaigning to be opened up to cyclists.

Cyclists through the park

There’s an argument that this is a bad use of police time. However, the police force has to respond to what residents complain most loudly about. I was shocked a few years ago to discover that amongst the three most pressing concerns for my local police force in Camden, after guns and burglary, was cycling on the pavement. I recently heard that the house I use to live in less than 12 months ago, was burgled, after someone kicked in the front door. Perhaps the police should have focused more on catching burglars?

There is little use complaining about these issues on a cycling blog. It’s the equivalent of trying to scream underwater. Instead, I should be contacting my local police force about my most pressing concerns as a resident. I should be contacting the Royal Parks to request more cycling provision. I should be contacting my local member of parliament to provide better cycling facilities. In fact, that’s what I’ll do after I’ve hit the publish button on this blog post.

I can feel both the frustrations as a pedestrian and as a cyclist. It’s never nice while you are walking on the pavement, to be shocked as a cyclist zooms past you. In the same way, it’s never nice as a cyclist, when a vehicle zooms past you. It doesn’t seem like the most intelligent solution to the problem is to simply fine cyclists. Instead, I believe there should be improved provision in the parks and more widely on London’s roads.

Correction: The Royal Parks Foundation does not manage the parks. It is managed by The Royal Parks, an executive agency of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The Royal Parks Foundation is a charity that helps support the parks.

Thanks to London Cyclist reader Sophie, who reported the fines in St James Park.

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65 Responses to Police cracking down on cyclists in London’s parks

  1. Richard 27/08/2012 at 8:50 am #

    I do understand the position of the pedestrians. They seem to struggle to cope even when the path is divided between cyclists and pedestrians. I refuse to believe there’s any serious danger of injury but it is obviously inconvenient and annoying to dodge cyclists who are much less agile and moving a lot more rapidly than you are. Plus on that picture above the pathway is barely wide enough to walk along, let alone fit cyclists as well.

    The best solution, of course, is to add cycle lanes throughout the park. I daresay many people and especially children would enjoy cycling through London’s beautiful parks if it were legal. However, until that actually happens I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for people using paths and especially since most of them are very clearly marked as cyclists not allowed.

    • Craig 27/08/2012 at 9:28 am #

      Too right Richard – pedestrians generally don’t follow the markings on the shared use paths. My 8 year old was at risk of severely injuring himself and another pedestrian when he came round the corner of a popular cycle lane in Salisbury to be confronted by a woman texting in front of him. He swerved to avoid her and then hit another pedestrian (in the correct place for pedestrians) as he crashed trying to avoid the second person.

      In a park I would like my children to be able to learn the bike skills that will help them to survive on the less than friendly traffic choked street when they are old enough. Where will I be able to do this if byelaws are enforced (I need to ride to avoid spending the whole trip jogging)?

      Perhaps I should engage in tit for tat excercise and insiste that Police enforce strict lane disciplne on pedestrians – mind you they could do with spending more time doing that on the motorways :)

      • LoveloBicycles 27/08/2012 at 12:16 pm #

        Craig, I think these bye laws exist only in a small number of parks, there should still be plenty of places to train children to ride.

        However you seem to be displaying the same attitude to pedestrians as motorists do to cyclists. One in which you see yourself as having priority, a pedestrian already in a lane has priority over a vehicle, yes, even if they are just standing there being an idiot.

        Furthermore, it looks like your boy must have turned a blind corner to be confronted by this pedestrian so suddenly in his way, in which case there are two action he should perform, slow down and ring his bell before/through the corner.

      • Simon Wilcox 28/08/2012 at 11:40 am #

        I’m sorry but if he was going too fast to stop, he’s not riding with due care and attention. Anticipation is vital, if there *might* be something around the corner, slow down to a speed that will allow you to react accordingly.
        I’m sure you already told him this, one day it might just save his life when he comes face to face with a car or lorry where he didn’t expect to find one.
        Of course, at that age we’re all invicible so I don’t expect he’ll pay much attention. I’m sure I didn’t at that age and at least he is outside on his bike :-)

    • Philtm 27/08/2012 at 2:06 pm #

      Don’t be facile – of course there is serious danger of injury, less so for adult pedestrians, more so for children.

      I am not surprised that cyclists on pavements are one of local residents’ priorities.

      I do agree with the author that there should be cycle paths through parks, and more provision or cyclists in general (dedicated east-west and north-south cycle highways through London would be amazing).

    • Cycle Assist 28/08/2012 at 1:43 pm #

      That was my first thought, adding a few cycle paths through parks would be a simple solution!

      • Jozudave 31/08/2012 at 10:38 am #

        Absolutely agree. There’s plenty of space to add to or alter existing paths to incorporate more cycle lanes. It’s crazy that we have these enormous parks with plenty of space for everyone yet cyclists are forced onto the polluted and over-crowded roads instead.

    • Phil Russell 31/08/2012 at 3:17 pm #

      RICHARD——all very well, but there’s an elephant in the room isn’t there? London has a lot of designated cycle-paths, but they’re costantly encroached on by walkers.
      What’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander, and if we’re going to fine errant cyclists, we should also fine errant pedestrians too. I’m getting tired of politely mentioning to people that they are walking on a cycle-path, only to be met with a volley of abuse. As cyclists, we need to talk to park wardens about this curious anomaly, and ask them what they, and their managers, intend to do about it.
      P.R.

    • WRCLondon 31/08/2012 at 5:35 pm #

      The problem with cycle paths is that it encourages cyclists to think they own that bit or pavement and can cycle at full speed and pedestrians who enter the zone are then flouting the rules (eg small kiddies on scooters) and get shouted at or worse knocked over. In my local park this was an issue, they removed the cycle lane and now both use the same bit of tarmac but cyclists have to be considerate and cycle slowly. Common sense it what is needed, integration rather than seperation. Trouble is, it only takes one idiot to screw it up for everyone!

    • Helen 06/05/2013 at 9:06 pm #

      In Hyde Park some selfish cyclists cycle on the paths designated for pedestrians only. Unfortunately, there are some selfish people around and they need to be fined as rules should be obeyed.

      • Phil Russell 06/05/2013 at 10:37 pm #

        [[[[[[ Hmmm….HELEN says “cyclists should be fined for riding on pedestrian paths”……does she then agree that walkers should be fined for walking on cycle-paths?

  2. LoveloBicycles 27/08/2012 at 9:10 am #

    I think there is room for a debate on the issue of adding cycling lanes in parks, but it ought to be approached with the prefix ‘what if’ not ‘we want’. What is a park if not a green space? What happens when more and more tarmac is added, criss-crossing the park? Cycling campaigners would have to be very careful entering that debate.

    • Andreas 27/08/2012 at 9:17 am #

      I’m glad someone brought up this issue – you are 100% right. Parks are green spaces and should stay that way. Tranquil locations primarily for people. As soon as you lay down tarmac you start to change the general feeling. I don’t believe routes should cross the entire park. Perhaps only a few key sections that cyclists would regularly use. For example from North to South in Green Park.

    • Craig 27/08/2012 at 9:32 am #

      Of course the paths need not be full tarmac. I wouldn’t imagine many roadies out for their Sunday Sportive ride would be interested in crossing the parks. So there would be room for gravel paths alongside the North/south East/West routes that would not affect the aesthetics of the park.

  3. peninsula 27/08/2012 at 9:36 am #

    I thought ‘wasting police time’ was an offence. But the police seem to do it so well for themselves.

  4. Mark 27/08/2012 at 9:59 am #

    The Royal Parks need to make the routes direct also: many cyclists cut through the pedestrian paths because to follow the cycle routes adds many hundreds of metres to the journeys, and as many cyclists are commuting then time/distance is an issue.

  5. Sprig fan 27/08/2012 at 10:29 am #

    My response whenever confronted by a cyclist on the pavement, on a path in a park or anywhere else where they’re breaking the law is always the same. Hold your ground, and accept one of two possible outcomes. (a) cyclist hits you, and I sue; or (b) cyclist swerves, likely falls off after realising at the last minute that you’re not going to get out of their way.

    Both ways, it’s the cyclist that gets screwed.

    Ps I’m a London cyclist. Just not an illegal one.

  6. Roy 27/08/2012 at 10:49 am #

    It’s cultural. The British are an entrenched culture. This strange obsessive compulsion to classify ourselves. Just chill-out, respect and talk to each other. I’m not a cyclist. I am a person riding a bike, and if its through the park I’ll nod my head, say “hi”, ring my bell (if I had one), and generally disarm fellow human beings by engaging with them. If I want to ride my bike fast from A-B I’ll stay on the road and bend the rules as much as possible without endangering other road users. All this, pedestrian vs. cyclist vs. park vs. car driver vs. police is tedious. I ride through Victoria Park but it has a wide perimeter road-way that is compatible with sharing, but that doesn’t stop me thanking people for moving out of the way or smiling as I approach. The Police are always having campaigns like this, but its unsustainable. Just get on with each other.

  7. Rossi 27/08/2012 at 11:02 am #

    Are the people riding horses in Hyde Park doing it because of congestion and high tube fares?

  8. Vivian 27/08/2012 at 12:30 pm #

    A typical example of the growing intolerance towards cyclists. This must be the only city in the world where you are not allowed to ride a bike in a park.

    If in doubt, ride on the grass!

    As for cycling provision, there is a segregated cycle lane that cuts through Clapham Common. It’s a very popular, and safe, commuter route. Unfortunately it’s mostly used by people walking their dogs, who then have the nerve to complain about cyclists going too fast injuring their little dogs. And the authorities listened to them, and now they put up a sign asking cyclists to be considerate and blah blah blah!

    This is London, the cycling city! What a joke!

    • Chris Goodman 30/08/2012 at 1:50 pm #

      I am astounded at the rules on no cycling in most London parks. In the Royal Parks the Policy is that you can only cycle on the cycle paths and not anywhere else. And by anywhere else, I mean that you must stick to the cycle paths or roads and can’t cycle across the grass.

      This says everything you need to know about the way moving on a bike is viewed by the authorities in London. If travelling by bike is so restricted in parkland, no wonder it can be hellish on the roads.

      It also adds to conflict. The cycle paths that you can use are generally alongside pedestrian routes. People, when walking, have a habit of not understanding what a cycle path is and straying onto them. So if you’re travelling on foot, not only can you move across the grass, on all the paths and pavements as well as invariably walking on cycle routes. Travelling by bike, you are limited to just those few cycle routes. And yet still, when cycling on those routes, and ringing a bell to give notice to those folk walking, the same annoyance is demonstrated by those pedestrians to you cycling anywhere near them.

      I am always astounded by how dealing with cycling on pavements can be such a high priortity for residents. I realise that its illegal, and I don’t do it. But, with such a poor network of safe cycle routes in London, I can totally understand why some people choose to cycle on pavements rather than dice with cars on the roads. I can’t obviously decide what annoys or intimidates other people, but surely the perception of cycling on pavements as such a high priority to some shows a generally wide lack of understanding about the risks of injury to pedestrians this poses, compared to the risk of injury to pedestrians posed by car drivers (check the stats – the figures for KSIs in London caused by cyclists are TINY compared to those caused by drivers).

      At times when Upper Richmond Road was closed one way due to roadworks, on my commute I would see teams of 8 PCs and PCSOs deployed to catch cyclists trying to pypass the obstruction by cycling on the pavement (due to residents complaints previously). And yet at another point on my commute there is a set of traffic lights at a cycle/pedestrian crossing over a main road on the exit of a large roundabout, where 4 or 5 cars routinely accelerate through the red lights as they come off the roundabout. I see it virtually every time I use the crossing, which is on a daily basis. Here you often have to put your foot out into the road to make drivers stop, and yet I have never seen red light jumping car drivers targetted by police here.

      Does this reflect somehow that we as a society seem to have accepted that the car rules the road, that most people drive and most break rules when driving, so really its to be expected? Whereas, perhaps because a much larger proportion of society never cycles, anyone doing so and being perceived to have broken a rule is viewed with much more criticism, anger and lack of acceptance? We need to break out of this assumption that the car should, for some reason, dominate, and that cyclists are some alien species. We need to get back to understanding that transport is about moving people, not metal. And we need to understand that increasing the number of people whose daily movements include more travel on foot and (more efficiently) by bike can help alleviate many of the problems that a city like London faces (pollution, congestion, poor health, obesity), and improve the city in many ways.

      I agree that the only way to change this is to add our voices to the mainstream: to keep making the requests for better cycle provision, lower car speeds and the targetting of those who really pose a risk on the roads. To make these requests as frequently and loudly as those who state that stopping cycling on the pavements is such a high priority to them. After all, if you sort out the first set of issues and make cycling provision better and safer, I suspect that the instances of antisocial cycling will diminish automatically.

      I live in London. I travel by train, bus, bicycle and car depending on what is most practical / efficient / speedy / cheap.

  9. Cameron 27/08/2012 at 2:15 pm #

    If we want to think big picture about park use – why is it they allow through car traffic in Richmond Park? I can understand car use to car parks for access to the park itself – seems reasonable. Having people use the park to cut through between Richmond and Kingston seems completely against the point of a park.

    Same goes for the cab-run through the middle of Hyde Park.

  10. liz 27/08/2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Richmond park is one of the parks that I think has got the balance right; there’s an off-road trail around the outside which is suitable for families and mixed abilities, and while you do have toshare with walkers, most people in the park have come to expect bikes now. Plus the on-road route is smooth and fast for people who want to use it as a road training ride, with a nice mix of climbs, flats and descents. Plus the central heath area of the park is off-limits to bikes, so you still get a nice feeling of open green space for walking or running!

    I don’t really understand why there needs to be car access through the park, but with a 20mph limit, and given the park’s popularity with cyclists, only a complete idiot would use it as a cut-through without expecting to encounter bikes.

    • Idavid 27/08/2012 at 6:43 pm #

      @liz Agree, Richmond Park is a treat whether you ride or stride. Am lucky enough to live nearby, for ever amused by the sight of several dozen weekend roadies, kitted out like they’re about to sign on for La Vuelta, decanting their £5k carbon jewels from the 4×4, couple of circuits then back in the car and home for lunch. Where do they all come from that they have to drive to the park – Yorkshire?

      BTW every attempt to have the park occasionally closed to motor vehicles is howled down by the locals. Blimey, the recent parking charges nearly started WW 3. We’ll need to share the road with cars for a while yet, and remember that the 20mph limit applies to us as well.

  11. sooooz 27/08/2012 at 3:01 pm #

    this is yet another thing amsterdam does better than us when it comes to cycling…

  12. Philip 27/08/2012 at 4:02 pm #

    I’m a keen cyclist and a regular pedestrian.

    So many cyclists show little or no regard for people on foot. Bikes are hard, unforgiving lumps of metal – they can hurt people very badly. Why do cyclists have to ride flat out all the time? What’s wrong with them stopping or even getting off to make way for pedestrians?

    Charging along a well-walked path and approaching pedestrians from behind is very dangerous indeed. People out walking do not always walk in a straight line and there is no reason whatsoever why they should have to think about some fool charging up behind on a bike.

    I do not ride on the pavement and believe it’s time for a very serious clamp down on cyclists who do. It’s dangerous and selfish.

    Pedestrians should ALWAYS have right of way.

    • Frank (Dalston) 31/08/2012 at 10:35 am #

      +1

  13. Toby Field 27/08/2012 at 5:42 pm #

    I recently rode in London for the first time ever. It was just before the Olympics. I got stopped by a police officer in St. James Park and told there was no cycling and doing so was subject to a £50 fine. She explained that she would only be taking my details as there are no signs up currently. I also explained I’d entered the park from the Mall and there was painted notice on the path saying no cycling like I’d seen in other parks that day.

    The fine seems a bit steep but if it’s clear it’s no cycling in the park then you ride at your own risk.

  14. Kerri 27/08/2012 at 7:42 pm #

    I followed a police cyclist through Kensington Gardens the other day heading towards Kensington Palace. At the end of the path you dismount and go through the gates as the path to the left is no cycling.

    I watched the policeman turn left and cycle down the hill in the no cycling zone.

    Apparently one rule for them and one rule for the rest of us is alive and well.

  15. Peter K 28/08/2012 at 7:06 am #

    I used to work with elderly people, for a younger person being knocked over is just an inconvenience, for the elderly it could mean a broken hip and loss of independence.

    So many cyclists seem to treat the cycle routes through the parks as a race track, trying to beat their record in getting to work or something.

    I cycle along the roads when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere and through the park on the way home when I’m taking it easy.

    I also walk my dog in the park, and along the canal – I’ve been knocked into there by a cyclist who thought I should be looking out for him, and didn’t think he should slow down passing me.
    If I’m walking through the park it should be the cyclists looking out for me not me for them. It should be accessible for blind people, for deaf people, for people who can’t gauge dangers from cyclists due to dementia, for toddlers learning to walk.

    Cyclists should look out for pedestrians and give way to them.

  16. Mike 28/08/2012 at 12:34 pm #

    It comes down to how well the person cycles. Cycling in a slow and considerate manner doesn’t bother me on the pavement; Police should be fining cyclists for being reckless rather than where they cycle

    It is legal to cycle on the pavement in most of Europe so it’s not dangerous, it just needs extra care from both sides.

    I’d also point out that some roads have vast pavements, 15-20 feet wide and no cycle lane! We should not be afraid to narrow pavements, reasonably, to fit cycle lanes in where possible.

    Cycling is the most environmentally efficient, and cost effective method of transport; yet it’s the only method of transport that has to share the vast majority of its space with other modes.

    So I agree, they should cut GOOD cyclists some slack and focus on fining the reckless ones.

    Mike

  17. Alex 28/08/2012 at 3:26 pm #

    “The Royal Parks need to make the routes direct also: many cyclists cut through the pedestrian paths because to follow the cycle routes adds many hundreds of metres to the journeys, and as many cyclists are commuting then time/distance is an issue.”

    I cycle daily through Hyde Park where the routes are often not the most direct but don’t see why they should be if it compromises the park. Hundreds of metres is hardly onerous if you’re on a bike, certainly not enough to make it a priority.

  18. Zuki 30/08/2012 at 9:13 am #

    The biggest problem in all this is the quick fix bike path that councils jumped on. Having a pavement that ok to cycle on that then suddenly ends makes cyclists think that actually its ok to use the pavement or path, If cycling provisions were actually provided and not seen as an after thought we may actually have a cycle network to rival the best road networks. I am now a roadie but have spent my time on the paths in the past. Any cycle path end sign on a path that doesn’t have a further suggestion on where you should go from that point makes you cycle in places you shouldn’t be. If you also think that we would avoid the really big junctions as a matter of course it does seem we will end on the pavement eventually.

    Even where I live there is a path to the rear of my property that is no cycling taking pedestrians from the main road avoiding the A4 to tescos. Cyclists use it all the time, But I believe that is because the cycle route to the front of my property (dead end for cars but through route for cycles) isnt marked or sign posted.

    It shouldn’t be a battle between pedestrians bikes and cars. We all need to be more tolerant of each other.

  19. Chris Goodman 30/08/2012 at 1:50 pm #

    I am astounded at the rules on no cycling in most London parks. In the Royal Parks the Policy is that you can only cycle on the cycle paths and not anywhere else. And by anywhere else, I mean that you must stick to the cycle paths or roads and can’t cycle across the grass.

    This says everything you need to know about the way moving on a bike is viewed by the authorities in London. If travelling by bike is so restricted in parkland, no wonder it can be hellish on the roads.

    It also adds to conflict. The cycle paths that you can use are generally alongside pedestrian routes. People, when walking, have a habit of not understanding what a cycle path is and straying onto them. So if you’re travelling on foot, not only can you move across the grass, on all the paths and pavements as well as invariably walking on cycle routes. Travelling by bike, you are limited to just those few cycle routes. And yet still, when cycling on those routes, and ringing a bell to give notice to those folk walking, the same annoyance is demonstrated by those pedestrians to you cycling anywhere near them.

    I am always astounded by how dealing with cycling on pavements can be such a high priortity for residents. I realise that its illegal, and I don’t do it. But, with such a poor network of safe cycle routes in London, I can totally understand why some people choose to cycle on pavements rather than dice with cars on the roads. I can’t obviously decide what annoys or intimidates other people, but surely the perception of cycling on pavements as such a high priority to some shows a generally wide lack of understanding about the risks of injury to pedestrians this poses, compared to the risk of injury to pedestrians posed by car drivers (check the stats – the figures for KSIs in London caused by cyclists are TINY compared to those caused by drivers).

    At times when Upper Richmond Road was closed one way due to roadworks, on my commute I would see teams of 8 PCs and PCSOs deployed to catch cyclists trying to pypass the obstruction by cycling on the pavement (due to residents complaints previously). And yet at another point on my commute there is a set of traffic lights at a cycle/pedestrian crossing over a main road on the exit of a large roundabout, where 4 or 5 cars routinely accelerate through the red lights as they come off the roundabout. I see it virtually every time I use the crossing, which is on a daily basis. Here you often have to put your foot out into the road to make drivers stop, and yet I have never seen red light jumping car drivers targetted by police here.

    Does this reflect somehow that we as a society seem to have accepted that the car rules the road, that most people drive and most break rules when driving, so really its to be expected? Whereas, perhaps because a much larger proportion of society never cycles, anyone doing so and being perceived to have broken a rule is viewed with much more criticism, anger and lack of acceptance? We need to break out of this assumption that the car should, for some reason, dominate, and that cyclists are some alien species. We need to get back to understanding that transport is about moving people, not metal. And we need to understand that increasing the number of people whose daily movements include more travel on foot and (more efficiently) by bike can help alleviate many of the problems that a city like London faces (pollution, congestion, poor health, obesity), and improve the city in many ways.

    I agree that the only way to change this is to add our voices to the mainstream: to keep making the requests for better cycle provision, lower car speeds and the targetting of those who really pose a risk on the roads. To make these requests as frequently and loudly as those who state that stopping cycling on the pavements is such a high priority to them. After all, if you sort out the first set of issues and make cycling provision better and safer, I suspect that the instances of antisocial cycling will diminish automatically.

    I live in London. I travel by train, bus, bicycle and car depending on what is most practical / efficient / speedy / cheap.

  20. Paul Woothipoom 31/08/2012 at 10:28 am #

    I wish cycling was illegal on the London Canal, that is far more dangerous for pedestrians than park paths with regard to cyclists but for some reason it is legal there.

    • Chris Goodman 31/08/2012 at 10:31 am #

      Why is it far more dangerous for pedestrians?

      • Paul Woothipoom 31/08/2012 at 10:38 am #

        You can be knocked into the river, and also there is less space to maneuver for cyclists as they don’t have the grass to go around on like in the parks , so the cyclists usually pass you very closely and can easily clip your leg or something like that

        • Ted 31/08/2012 at 11:19 am #

          But cycling along the canal is really nice!

          Provided cyclists go slowly alonmg the towpath and use a bit of common sense and consideration it shouldn’t cause a problem. I always do and I never get any complaints from pedestrians.

          The worst habit pedestrians have as opposed to any other sort of transport user is walking into the road without looking. As someone who doesn’t ride on payments or jump red lights it’s particularly annoying to have these numpties assuming that if they can’t hear an engine there’s nothing coming and wander out regardless, often texting as they do so. I’ve very rarely encountered a cyclist behaving in as dangerous a manner anywhere as I see pedestrians doing every day.

        • Peter Macintosh 05/09/2012 at 4:10 pm #

          Haha, how many people killed or injured due to cyclists on Londons canals?
          I ride on the canal. I ride fast. I ring my bell. I slow down for pedestrians if there’s a possibility they haven’t seen me. I slow down for pedestrians in relation to path width. I have not had any complaints, or near misses, or any problem whatsoever.

          I understand people “fear” of cyclist. But on the whole, cyclists don’t actually want to collide with pedestrians. They tend to cycle around pedestrians, who themselves generally walk in straigh lines thus allowing cyclists to predict their trajectory and avoid collision. The fear is entirely unfounded. Ofcourse there are exceptions; the thugs who cycle fast on pavements towards blind corners and strike elderly ladies pushing them towards an early grave.

          On the other hand, cycling on the roads, or on cycle lanes (which I now avoid) I have to swerve to avoid pedestrians on a regular basis for crossing the road either without looking, or using a phone, or texting, or watching a film, reading a book, or even after looking directly at me then continuing to walk out in front of me! I’ve been knocked off my bike twice by pedestrians. Both times the pedestrian was at fault.

          Of course personal anecdotes are meaningless. But the bottom line is that we should adopt a more adult approach to cycling:-

          Cycling on the pavement, or anywhere, SAFELY should be legal. Riding like a maniac on a narrow pavement in front of an old folks home should be penalised. Rational judgement should be applied.

          It seems most pedestrians, and for that matter drivers confuse DANGER with IRRITATION. Bikes are irritating, yes. But cars and pedestrians are actually more dangerous, as statistics show. (actually not sure about cyclists injuries due to errant pedestrians, perhaps someone has the answer)

        • Alehouse Rock 01/09/2014 at 1:54 am #

          Plus 1 to that!
          A.L.

  21. Jozudave 31/08/2012 at 10:54 am #

    I would mind less if the police fined people for cycling in parks if they actually did their job and stopped all the yobs who constantly cycle on the pavement in Clapham, etc. They don’t seem to bother with them probably because they know they won’t politely stop and accept their punishment and actually pay up by the deadline set.

  22. Greek Geeza 31/08/2012 at 10:56 am #

    Police are there to enforce rules. Doing so is not a waste of their time. As has already been discussed, they will focus their attention on what the majority of people are complaining about (burglaries, cyclists on pavements, drugs, whatever).

    To me the big issue is the majorities perception of cyclists. If Police cracking down on those few idiots that ride recklessly, and give us all a bad rep, reduces the cases of reckless riding, it can only be a good thing.

  23. Heather 31/08/2012 at 10:56 am #

    I don’t really understand what the problem is here. Why complain about police doing their job? After all, it is the cyclists who are breaking the law, no? Whingeing about getting caught doing something wrong is not the way to solve the problem, nor gain any kind of sympathy for the cause. In fact, I suspect it is not so much that pedestrians fear for their lives when cyclists cycle through the park, but rather it is further proof that a LOT of cyclists ignore the rules in favour of doing whatever the hell they want. Like running red lights, like cycling on the pavement, like cycling through zebra crossings when pedestrians are trying to cross. Is it any wonder that people dislike cyclists so much? I realise not all of us show disdain for the law, but plenty of us do.

    I agree it would be nice for me to be able to cycle through Green Park on my way to work. It would cut off the whole four or five minutes that it takes to get off my bike and walk. But instead I dare to follow the rules. It’s really not that difficult.

    The bottom line, however, is that if you don’t like a law, don’t just whinge about it, and don’t sabotage your cause by ignoring it, get off your bum and try to get it changed!

    • Chris Goodman 31/08/2012 at 11:05 am #

      “The bottom line, however, is that if you don’t like a law, don’t just whinge about it, and don’t sabotage your cause by ignoring it, get off your bum and try to get it changed!”

      I think that is the whole point of the original post…and I agree with it.

      My complaint is just that misperception leads to the police targetting a minority breaking the rules with relatively low risk (cyclists on pavements, often driven there through lack of safe cycling provision elsewhere) whilst often ignoring the majority breaking the rules with much higher risk (drivers jumping red lights, speeding etc). I agree that both sets of people should adhere to the rules, but the fact is that not everyone does, and the police cant address everything – they have to direct their resources to certain targets. My frustration is that in this case, somehow, society pushes them to target the minority causing a relatively low risk rather than the majority causing much higher risks that have somehow become ‘acceptable’.

  24. Mark 31/08/2012 at 1:55 pm #

    last sumer i would cycle through hyde park twice a day, using the ample cycle path provided.
    it really angered me when cyclists deviated from this path, they would have to cross signs painted on th floor specifically saying no cycling. why do cyclists think they dont have to obey rules? im sure if they were a pedestrian they would be annoyed at cyclists coming past them, even if they werent hurt, it still is not allowed, so dont do it!

    • Chris Goodman 31/08/2012 at 2:27 pm #

      So in principle (and whether or not I believe the rules are right) you are correct… but you can’t just have a go at cyclists for this. Cyclists are only allowed on those few paths, yet how many times to pedestrians (who have the WHOLE of the rest of the park – grass and paths) wander onto the cycle route, either crossing it without looking or sauntering along, completely oblivious? This creates real problems for the cyclists on the one bit of land they are actually allowed on.

      The two times I’ve been to events in Hyde Park recently, TFL have had to station groups of officials every few hundred meters to shout, through loudhailers, at the pedestrians to tell them to keep off the cycle path.

      How can you expect cyclists to adhere to the rules when the one bit of space they are granted gets completely ignored by everyone else? The same goes for the roads. The green Advanced Stop Boxes are always filled by cars or more likely motorbikes. Cars park and drive in bike lanes, and the lanes themselves are poorly designed, often disappearing when needed most (as the road narrows, at junctions etc) or ending abrubtly. (Cyclists in my view face the worst of this of all road users – ignored or bullied on the roads by cars, not allowed on pavements and routinely obstructed on cycle routes by pedestrians.)

      if you build safe, efficient, sufficient infrastructure, and enforce its use by ALL parties, then cyclists will use it and will likely adhere to it of their own volition. If you make it rubbish, half hearted, incomplete or if everyone else just ignores it, then its pretty likely that cyclists will ignore it also. What happens on a road when the pavement suddenly ends and there is no pavement on the other side of the road (admittedly more a situation you’d come across in a rural village than in London, but the example is still valid)? People carry on walking, but on the edge of the road. They don’t stop, turn back and find another way. The same is true of cycle paths and cyclists.

      The ONLY solution to this, in my view, is to build decent cycling infrastructure. The govt, nor one particular group of users, are not able to change the attitudes of everyone else simply through education, signs. training. But if you build proper, serious infrastructure that is effective, encourage its use, enforce against inappropriate use, then more people will use it properly and over time it will become the norm.

      But until that happens, picking on one group of users who don’t appear to be respected by any other group (as far as their rights to use certain bits of infrastructure are concerned) and who are all but ignored by transport planners, is not going to change anything.

      • mark 31/08/2012 at 8:52 pm #

        paint th path blue like other cycle paths and physicslly segregate th pedrstrians.
        If it is a cyclepath it is for good reason. Eg a lot of cyclists commute on it.
        U cant build a cycle path and expect them to cycle at 5mph
        If im given a small bit of tarmac in a big park im going to treat it like th road during my 10 mile commute to work. Restrict me to a slow speed n id rather go back n play with th traffic

      • Etienne 25/08/2014 at 4:35 pm #

        The “cycle routes” in Kensington Gdns & Hyde Park are routes on which cycling is permitted, they are not exclusive to cyclists. I walk my dogs in Kensington Gdns most days for the past 20 years and I have never had a cyclist slow down or, heaven forbid, stop to allow me to cross a path, cycle or otherwise.

        • Alehouse Rock 01/09/2014 at 11:35 pm #

          ETIENNE—-It’s a jungle out there, isn’t it? And I’m afraid it’s going to get worse—much worse—b4 it gets better. How many dog-walkers control their animals around cyclists? From the tone of your comments, I suspect you do take care, and your animals respond to you….but cyclists are always running the gauntlet of loose dogs, dozy people blindly wandering onto Designated Cycle Paths, etc. etc…..I think we’re all just Going to Hell in a Handcart!
          A.L.

  25. Phil Russell 31/08/2012 at 4:16 pm #

    CHRIS GOODMAN—–quite right, squire, and I think if local borough councils were to put PROPER signs on our cycle-paths, like “CYCLISTS ONLY”, repeated at 10-metre intervals on all such lanes (and properly maintain them), life would be a little easier for us all—-walkers included.
    I think I’ll start pestering Lambeth Borough Council now. Imagine what might happen if we all did this….
    P.R.

    • mark 05/09/2012 at 1:31 pm #

      Here here! Cyclists only!!!! :-)

  26. Ray Whitehouse 31/08/2012 at 7:48 pm #

    Other than its a bit harder work for cyclists, whats wrong with cycling on the grass if cyclists are banned from the paths?

    • Chris Goodman 31/08/2012 at 9:39 pm #

      Well that’s partly the point – it’s forbidden in the Royal Parks to cycle anywhere off the cycle tracks. So, ridiculously, cyclists are not allowed to bike across the grass.

  27. Floyd 01/09/2012 at 3:56 am #

    The baseline, which not many in this discussion have mentioned is training and educating cyclist/pedestrians about the laws and right of way when sharing public areas.

    Likewise there are some pedestrians who seem oblivious to shared paths with cyclists or even their own responsibility to be aware of other path users. But I do acknowledge it would be impractical to expect pedestrians to under go some sort of awareness training.

    As a cyclist. I myslef have encountered inexperienced cyclist (and small kids on bikes) not knowing which side to cycle on or even cycling down a middle shared lane with pedestrians. I sometimes (as do pedestrians at times) have to navigate off the path simply to avoid them.

    I’m not in favour of cyclists needing a (expensive) licence to cycle, but surely some sort of training/educating. The onus here is probably with the cyclist to be more aware of the byelaws and to (probably) acknowledge that pedestrians are not going to be aware when using shared paths or areas.

    In this instance its the cyclist that need to be more aware and tolerant of pedestrians, because pedestrians never will be.

  28. Nick S 03/09/2012 at 11:21 am #

    I saw a poor cyclist having problems in Hyde Park that perfectly illustrates the problem with shared cycle paths. I was running from Hyde Park Corner to Speakers Corner on the pedestrian side of the shared cycle/footpath. A line divides the path in two, cyclists on one side, pedestrians on the other. About half way along, a pedestrian stepped into the cycle lane without looking and was cleaned up by a cyclist coming up the hill. No damage to either party and both continued. 100 yards further on a teenager pushing a Boris bike did exactly the same thing, walking into the path of the same oncoming cyclist without looking. Unfortunately the cyclist didn’t fare so well this time, crashing into the Boris bike and bending his front wheel into a banana. Fortunately the teen was protected by the Boris bike. Unless the bike path is separate, pedestrians won’t look where they are going and are likely to get injured. There is a limited amount of anticipation that can be done by a fast moving cyclist to avoid pedestrians that walk directly into their path and the relatively silent approach of bikes doesn’t help. Perhaps if we all attached ice cream van sirens to our bikes we’d all be safer.

  29. Phil Russell 05/09/2012 at 3:54 pm #

    NICK S—(AND ANDREAS)—–dunno about ice-cream-van jingles, but I’ve attached to my front forks a piece of credit card, on a swivelling bracket, which loudly brushes the spokes of the front wheel when I’m riding through parks. It makes no difference to my speed, but a very big difference to dopy cycle-path walkers…….they move over and let me through! And that’s as it should be, because on shared-use paths I always steer away from the pedestrians who are walking towards me.
    Both my bikes have the “clacker” fitted, and so has my wife’s. It’s a schoolkids’ trick from way back, to pretend you’re on some sort of “motorbike”, but it works a treat, and has done for years, as I ride through Dulwich Park (where EVERYBODY ignores the pavement and strolls, plays ball-games, runs their dogs, and plays tag etc, all over the road circuit…and also in Brockwell Park, to name just two. I imagine that if someone with business acumen were to manufacture “Clackers” commercialy, they’d sell like hot cakes.
    Obviously, it’s not a complete solution to our problems in parks, but in the absence of “CYCLISTS ONLY” tracks, it at least gives walkers a chance to hear us coming. Once I’m out of the park and back on the road, I swivel the clacker bracket forward away from the wheel. And if you’all wanna call me a “clacker-bracket-swiveller”, that’s okay too!
    P.R.

  30. lucie 11/09/2012 at 9:33 am #

    Hi all,

    I just got fined £50 for cycling in regents park – there was no sign indicating this and i have not read about it anywhere. I think this is really unfair and was wondering if anyone could give me any advice as to whether i stand a chance of not having to pay it? I have only just started to earn money and cycle partly because public transport is so expensive! It seems ridiculous that i know have to pay for cycling slowly through a park which is the highlight of my day!

    I would really appreciate some advice on the matter. Thanks, Lucie

  31. Phil Russell 11/09/2012 at 3:21 pm #

    [[[[[[[[[[[ LUCIE,
    If there isn’t a “NO CYCLING” notice at the point where you entered the park, then you stand a good chance of appealing the fine. Go back and take a photo as evidence. I’ve successfully challenged four ridiculous motoring fines in ten years, so it can be done.
    However, I think most park entrances do in fact carry notices telling you what can’t do, so let us know how you get on. Best of luck.
    P.R.

    • Sonnenblume 11/09/2012 at 4:08 pm #

      I would add that you should retrace your entire journey and check for “No Cycling” notices painted on the path itself. A lot of cyclists seem to fail to miss these.

  32. Iain 25/04/2013 at 7:23 am #

    The fact that you feel unsafe doing what you want to do in the proper way, is never an excuse to go about it in an illegal way instead. If we all took that attitude with regard to our preferred sport, there would be mayhem. Archery practice in the shopping mall, anyone? Heathrow control zone? Who cares, my glider can dodge the jets! The Law is the Law, and laws which appear silly are often made for good reasons which are not immediately obvious. Cyclists need to realize that they are not above the Law.

    • Gill 30/12/2013 at 6:39 pm #

      Listen to Iain folks!I really don’t think there would be a problem if cyclists paid attention to people,paths and park rules. Some of the comments made by cyclists sound as fascist as the motorists who try to drive them off the road in the belief that they have a greater entitlement. Because someone else behaves badly does not mean you need to follow suit. Common courtesy melts away problems like a charm.
      I confess I sometimes ride on bits of pavement when the traffic is heavy/full of parked vehicles, but as soon as a PEDESTRIAN is in view I hop off and give way because I know I am in the wrong even when the pavement is empty. To whizz past old people and children is not considerate or sensible, never mind whether it is legal or not!
      Walkers and cyclists should be allies united in the cause of health and environmental benefits. Lets be nice to each other.

  33. marco 31/08/2014 at 5:00 pm #

    My 5 year old girl was nearly knocked off by a cyclist doing at least 25mph in hyde park on a cycle lane, if he hit her it would probably have killed her. We had just entered the park and was crossing the horse path and then cycle path at the designated crossing, where cyclist are sup pose to stop, but they dont they just fly across it. The cyclist shouted at us saying we shouldnt have been in his way. If he had stopped i would have knocked him out and jumped up and down on his bike wheels. if he would have hit and killed my daughter then there would have been two deaths in the park that day.
    something has to be done to stop cyclists thinking they can ride anywhere and at any speed

  34. Alehouse Rock 31/08/2014 at 10:47 pm #

    MARCO—-Sorry about the crap cyclist you’ve mentioned, but re-read what you’ve written, and then kindly read this: Last week I was cycling at about 15mph—in a cycle lane—when a pedestrian, on his mobile, stepped blindly off the kerb into my path. I swerved out to avoid a collision, and broadsided a car passing me at 40mph (in a 30mph zone). I cannoned off the passenger door and somehow managed to avoid hitting the deck, stopped and looked back at the twerp with the mobile—he stared hard back at me but said not a word of apology.
    Now—if I had gone under the wheels of the speeding car, and been killed or badly injured, my brother would have stopped (he had been riding ahead of me), and would have knocked the geezer out, and then jumped up & down on his phone. Actually, if I’d been killed, my bro would have killed the dozy git on the spot—-and then there would have been 2 deaths on the road that day. Something has to be done to stop pedestrians wandering about, texting, as if they own the streets and everybody has to slam the brakes on for them—–and as for drivers jumping red lights and using their dumbphones at the wheel…..don’t get me started! The overwhelming majority of injuries, and deaths, to pedestrians are caused by motor vehicles, and just a tiny fraction by bicycles. Let us all try to keep a sense of perspective.
    A.L.

  35. Peter 17/09/2014 at 9:27 pm #

    in the park you are _allowed_ to ride on the cycle routes, but do not do not have a right. Even on the cycle paths. Pedestrians have absolute priority. It is a space for people to walk their dogs and exercise their toddlers. they should not have to look out for bikes. we as cyclists have to look out for them. I teach cycling, often in the park, and depressingly often we meet some fascist cyclist shouting at us for being in their way.
    In the park you cannot expect other cyclists to be on one side or the other – many are tourists and used to riding on the other side.

    Cycling along the streets too: keep far enough out to avoid having to worry about the dozy pedestrian. most cycle lanes are far too narrow. you do not _have_ to ride in them any more than busses are obliged to drive in bus lanes. The car drivers will give you more room if you are further out. though you should be looking ahead while riding to prepare for hazards like idiots stepping out anyhow.

    Pedestrians do own the streets. as do we all!
    Sometimes when I meet a stupid person who rants about cyclists jumping lights etc and wants cyclist to have a licence I suggest that pedestrians ought to have a pedestrian licence. the idea is that it illustrates the absurdity.

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