On-the-spot fines for the pavement bike riders

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It might sound trivial, the kind of thing Victor Meldrew would have blown his top about.

But if there’s one issue guaranteed to dominate the letters pages of The News it is cycling on the pavement.

Perhaps the subject is not such a hot potato in land-locked areas of the country, but in our part of the world with miles of seafront promenade, it strikes a particularly strident note.

It’s happened to all of us – as pedestrians.

You’re out for a bracing, carefree stroll along the prom when a silent cyclist speeds past from behind scaring the life out of you.

So we can hear the applause from here for Hampshire police officers who have issued hundreds of pavement-riding cyclists with on-the-spot fines, most in the wider Portsmouth area.

As we report today, of the 449 fines issued across the county last year, 293 were in the Portsmouth area.

It is nothing new. It has been an offence for 124 years, but until relatively recently few cyclists were ever prosecuted.

But, as ever, it isn’t that simple. Shouldn’t the law also come down hard on speeding pavement skateboarders, children on scooters or a parent on a bike teaching their child, also on two wheels, how to ride in safety? Of course not.

There has to be give and take and tolerance on both sides.

But why are so many cyclists on the pavement anyway? John Holland, the chairman of the Portsmouth Cycle Forum, certainly does not condone it, but says: ‘The answer is that many fear for their safety on the city’s busy and crowded roads.

‘Portsmouth has a collection of disjointed cycle lanes often ending abruptly and obstructed by illegally-parked vehicles, throwing the cyclist into the traffic.

‘Cyclists are encouraged to use the so-called quieter back streets which are choked with parked cars,’ he adds.

Perhaps the solution is to make roads safer and follow the example of places like Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo.

There every main road has designated cycle lanes and even their own traffic lights.