Cycling on the pavement – a real risk or just a nuisance?


Liz Brooker puts things in perspective.

Road safety practitioners are often asked to deal with issues that are perceived to be a real problem rather than the issues that really do need addressing.

The behaviour of cyclists is a case in point.

We regularly hear of cyclists going through red lights, cycling on the pavement and speeding through shared spaces. But do they cause real harm? Or is the problem more anti-social than a real road safety risk?

Or maybe the issue is exacerbated by the irritation and frustration of drivers who have to wait their turn at traffic lights, and cannot filter through the stationary rush hour traffic?

I think maybe this is at the heart of the problem!

For drivers, a cyclist who has gone through a red light is now out of the way; maybe this is a good thing? Perhaps even more of a blessing for a HGV driver, as the cyclist has removed themselves from a dangerous position. Surely this has got to be a positive – yet it still irritates us!

What about cycling on pavements? Is this a real danger or rather an annoyance, a bugbear, an irritation? When we talk about cycling the first thing many people raise (especially those who do not cycle) is the issue of adults cycling on the pavement.

When we look at the casualty data for pedestrians as a whole, over a three-year period there were 197 fatalities, 2,305 pedestrians seriously injured and a further 13,519 slightly injured. Of those, just 0.5% of the serious injuries and 0.4% slight injuries were a result of a collision with a bicycle on a pavement.

Of all pedestrian fatalities recorded, 2% were as a result of a collision with a cycle; and 5% of serious injuries and 4% of slight injuries came about in the same manner.

So is cycling on the pavement a real road risk to pedestrians or just a hindrance and irritation?

When it comes to scaling our road safety priorities, there are far bigger concerns for the dwindling number of road safety practitioners in London and further afield.

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