CYCLING bans on some public footpaths in Havant are to be scrapped as a council tries to get more people on their bikes.
For decades cycling has been banned in Havant Park, Emsworth Recreation Ground and Hollybank Ground in Emsworth, as well as Eastern Road Bridge in Havant.
Now Havant Borough Council is to scrap the rules, which in recent years have not been actively enforced but could have led to a possible fine if persistently breached.
The council is pushing to get the borough more bicycle-friendly and provide joined-up cycle routes.
But the move has sparked a debate over whether cyclists should be allowed to use public footpaths.
In Havant Park, for instance, the council does not intend to paint on a dedicated cycle lane.
Pete Walden, chairman of Havant Over-50s Forum, said pedestrians and cyclists should not have to share paths and was worried about the elderly having to dodge bicycles.
He said: ‘Why should pedestrians have to get out of the way of cyclists on the footpath? It’s wrong.’
The council has said it will monitor how well the new system works and may look at other areas to revoke cycling bans.
Paul Fisher, a cyclist from Hayling Island, said: ‘I am all in favour of it.
‘As far as the by-laws are concerned, I have been breaking them for years.
‘It’s an innocent activity that should not be criminalised.’
Cllr Jenny Wride, who has led the cycling scheme, said: ‘It’s a national initiative which we fully support. Green travel – there are so many reasons why it’s important.
‘It’s healthier for people, it’s reduces our carbon footprint, it’s good for the environment and it keeps the NHS health bill down.’
She said a bit of common courtesy was all that was needed to stop friction between cyclists and pedestrians.
‘It’s something I would be keen to promote – the use of bells,’ said Cllr Wride.
‘But that’s not within the local authority’s remit.
‘We will be getting appropriate signs put up so everyone is clear there is dual use of particular paths.’
Scrapping some of the cycling bans comes as the council has produced a five-year Active Travel Strategy – aimed at getting people cycling or walking.
A public consultation runs until August 26 and can be viewed at havant.gov.uk/havant-9660.
A cycle map has also been produced showing all the routes in the Havant borough.
To see the cycle map visit havant.gov.uk/havant-9834.