Minister confirms it’s OK for cyclists to ride on pavement

12.00 | 15 January 2014 | | 37 comments

Robert Goodwill, road safety minister, has confirmed that cyclists are permitted to ride on the pavement, as long as they do so considerately, according to an article on the website. says the confirmation came in an email sent to the cycle campaigner Donnachadh McCarthy, in which the minister said that original guidance issued by the Home Office 15 years ago when Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were introduced was still valid.

Mr Goodwill said: “Thank you for bringing the issue of cycling on the pavement around dangerous junctions such as Vauxhall Cross to my attention.

“I agree that the police should be using discretion in enforcing this law and would support Paul Boateng’s original guidance."

That guidance from Mr Boateng, issued in 1999, said: “The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so.

“Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.”

In response, Donnachadh McCarthy said: “Fining vulnerable cyclists for cycling responsibly on the pavement at extremely dangerous junctions is a bedroom tax on two-wheels as there is no safe alternative for them to cycle on.”


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    in 2014 the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (ASBC&PA) came into force. Notably, the definition of ASB was redefined in three ways, in this context
    Part 6, Section 105 (4) states that:

    “anti-social behaviour” means any behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress to members or any member of the public;…”

    Subsequently, the Home Office changed the methods by which ASB should be dealt with, thus, granting appropriate public enforcement bodies with new statutory powers and published guidance in July 2014 to support the ASBC&PA.

    THIS WAS SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO PROACTIVELY PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF ALL VICTIMS/SURVIVORS OF THIS ABUSE, NOT PROTECT THE SPECIFIC BEHAVIOURS OF ANY ALLEGED OFFENDERS, regardless of their age or socio-economic backgrounds and this uninformed and opinionated minister was literally placing pedestrians at risk of harm – no wonder the number of pedestrian deaths and serious injuries from collisions with cyclists has increased in recent years.

    Mrs Liz Storey, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (4) | Disagree (7)

    It has been an offence to ride on the footpath anywhere in England and Wales since the enactment of

    the 1835 Highways Act.
    Under the Highway Act section 72, it is illegal to ride on the pavements. But responsibility for enforcing the law, which now carries a fixed penalty of £50, lies with the chief officer of each force.

    And the Home Office has issued guidance calling for careful use of police discretion, particularly in respect of children.
    UPDATED: 05:06, 23 January 2017

    stephen adams London
    Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

    I personally am disabled and cannot learn to drive. I hate relying on buses and do not feel safe to cycle on a road (if my disability stops me driving out of fear of causing an accident surely cycling on the road is the same?). Cycle lanes on footpaths exist in many areas and I believe cycle lanes should be added to all footpaths for those who feel unsafe on the road or are otherwise unable to ride on the road. This would enable both pedestrians and cyclists to remain safe.

    Mikyla Young, Hull
    Agree (41) | Disagree (22)

    I think cyclists should be free to cycle on pubic footpaths and pavements as long as they go slow.

    Wayne Johnson, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (46) | Disagree (64)

    There is no such thing as road tax it is called vehicle tax and is not in use for maintaining the highways it’s just another way of raising money.

    Shaun Terry, Kent
    Agree (19) | Disagree (4)

    As an under 18, and a responsible and considerate one of other pedestrians, I feel that any other cyclists that do not cycle recklessly on the pavement and show consideration towards the likes of the elderly should be protected by the law. I think particularly for under 18s the major concern is safety; the reality is that most motorists treat cyclists like dirt that is clogging up the road and so do not respect them. Moreover, my parents, and the parents of my friends refuse to allow us out to cycle unless we stay off the road. It is without doubt an injustice to punish responsible cyclists for trying to keep their limbs attached, and I know all those under 18 along with their parents would agree.

    Chris C, NI
    Agree (31) | Disagree (28)

    We really don’t understand the evasion of the issue of safety and rights for pedestrians. Our elderly, as well as toddlers and some disabled residents are unable to step outside their gate for adults cycling on the pavements. (Note recent news items such as the young child knocked down outside her own gate.) They are unable to jump quickly out of the way and those cyclists who think only of themselves, without respect for others, are forcing many pedestrians back to the safety of their cars, or else stay indoors. Moreover, children in our area are encouraged by parents to race up and down the pavements. We see v. little “responsible” or considerate action. Such aggression, being unaddressed, is gaining many cyclists the reputation of bullies, both towards elderly and other pedestrians, as well as councils reluctant to make a stand with clear signs and active fines. Cycling is not the only healthy option – some people need to walk for various reasons, and are prevented by lack of reasonable legislation being reminded and carried out.

    Phillip Simpson, Dulwich
    Agree (45) | Disagree (16)

    I spoke to the police where I work and there attitude was if you were riding responsibly on a pavement they had no issue with it as long as you showed consideration to pedestrians. The road that runs outside my place of work is national speed limit, and the road surface is appalling. Cracks, potholes, and blocked drains. Despite repeated complaints to the local authority. And the police said that lately these people using disabled scooters are more of a menace than cyclists.

    Chris Rolfe. Folkestone, Kent.
    Agree (15) | Disagree (14)

    My experience is that the norm for cyclists on pavements is that they are not considerate! Let’s keep the standard pavement for pedestrians. Of course I agree that dedicated cycle lanes are a good idea, but how to fund them? VED has been removed for zero emission vehicles, but the original road fund tax was designed to fund the original road infrastructure. So who should pay for dedicated cycle ways, surely cyclists should make some contribution? Between 2008 and 2012 some 360 people were killed or seriously injured by cyclists. Should they be required by law to hold third party insurance?

    Agree (35) | Disagree (14)

    How can Mr Goodwill be a “Safety” minister. The HSE would condemn anybody riding a cycle, or any other vehicle, in a pedestrian area (that is what a pavement is). Does he not realize that this practice is intimidating and downright dangerous for pedestrians.
    How can the police determine what is careful cycling and what isn’t? Cycling on the pavement is an offense and should be treated as such. As for Mr Boateng’s statement, I was always taught that, if something feels dangerous don’t do it. Anyone frightened of riding on the road should not ride at all and should not be given the leaway to put others in danger.

    Roy Evans, Barking, Essex
    Agree (44) | Disagree (27)

    ‘Phil’ quotes that “1,200 injuries near schools in the UK every month” because of motorists behaviour.

    According to the DfT Statistics Bulletin RAS30002 in 2012 the total amount of children (0-15 years) killed and injured for the whole of the UK was pedestrians 6,999 (20 killed) and cyclists 2,198 (13 killed). So where does his “school gates” figure of 14,000 come from?

    Terry Hudson
    Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

    Brian Croucher – may I reword your statement to:
    “I think motorists should not drive on the roads because I have seen them drive on the roads when using their mobile phones.”

    Steve, Merseyside
    Agree (10) | Disagree (5)

    Given the Minister’s comments, when is he going to update the Highway Code, which still contains under Rule 64 which is for cyclists ‘You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement’.

    Does this mean that everyone can now ignore the Highway Code providing that they do so in a considerate manner?

    Mark , Brighton
    Agree (21) | Disagree (2)

    This debate is missing the main point that it is REASONABLE cyclists who should not be fined – those that do not act this way should be dealt with the same all road (or pavement) users who do not obey the rules. There will always be some who ride through red lights or talk on their phones, the same with drivers or pedestrians who do not pay attention to what is happening around them.

    We need to get away from this ‘them and us’ situation and stop blaming each other but should have respect for other users and start taking responsibility for sharing the road space and acting with the same courtesy and respect we expect others to treat us with.

    I am a cyclist, a walker and a driver and see examples of good and bad manners from all users.

    Mark, Oxford
    Agree (17) | Disagree (4)

    I’d love to know what the current minister means by “considerately”?

    “The Highway code is intended as a supplementary guide to the proper use of the highway, and as a code of good manners to be observed by all courteous and considerate persons. It in no way supplants these definite rules or relieves anyone from the necessity of strictly observing them.” If you want to know where that quote comes from look on page 1 of the original 1931 Highway Code in the Note of introduction by the Minister of Transport.

    Page 4 of the current HC also refers to behaviour. “It is important that all road users are aware of the Code and are considerate towards each other.” It then states: “Many of the rules in the Code are legal requirements, and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence.”

    Common sense must be used but the minister’s statement will only set cyclists and pedestrians against each other at a time when we are trying to avoid a war between cyclists and motorists. Remember we all share the road and no-one is just one road user type!

    Peter Wilson Westminster
    Agree (10) | Disagree (1)

    Cycling on the footpath remains an offence if the rider is over the age of 10yrs. I do not believe that has changed. Best to dismount when using pavements.

    Vic Marks might be advised that road tax has not been abolished, but simply changed its official title to Vehicle Excise Duty. It was introduced in 1921 and remains with us – and some high emission vehicles can be used on the roads free of such tax – steam powered amongst them, mowing machines and vehicles made before 1st January 1973 also. Mobility scooters are also subject to a 4mph speed limit on footways – that’s a brisk walking pace.

    Derek Reynolds, Salop.
    Agree (13) | Disagree (2)

    This is a very difficult one – on the one hand, what of those parents that allow toddlers and infants to cycle on pavements – are they to cycle on the road as well? On the back of that, you only have to visit the Broadmead area of Bristol to see some cyclists riding irresponsibly at speed on pavements where people are walking and yes, many on their mobile phones. ‘Cycling’ and ‘considerately’ are very often not seen together in public.

    Rob Wiltsher, Bristol
    Agree (9) | Disagree (1)

    The last paragraph is incorrect. There is an alternative to cycling on the pavement which is an offence under Town Police Clauses Act and other enforceable legislation. That is that if it’s too difficult for the cyclists to be on the road then walk your cycle on the pavement and across crossings.

    That alleviates the need for any change in the law and is far less dangerous to all users of the highway. It also shows other road users an appropriate and mature attitude towards other road users and obedience of the law. The laws re cycling stand unless they are changed by government and should be enforced by the police. Cyclists at this moment in time appear to change between road and pavement with impunity and with little regard to any consequences or laws.

    bob craven Lancs
    Agree (17) | Disagree (4)

    I think cyclists should not ride on the pavement as I have seen them ride on the pavement when using mobile phones.

    brian croucher islington
    Agree (17) | Disagree (8)

    Moderating is challenging, especially when the subject is as emotive as cycling. Our approach is to encourage debate and free speech and to moderate as lightly as possible.

    But I am the first to admit that we do not always get it right – in fact I would suggest that ‘getting it right’ in the minds of all readers, all of the time, is virtually impossible.

    Having said that, perhaps on reflection we did allow the tone of this debate to escalate beyond what is desireable earlier in the thread, and we apologise to readers who think that is the case.

    All contributors can help here by making their points in a civilised and considered manner – that will make our job as moderators much simpler.

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News
    Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

    Zero emissions, zero damage to the surface of road or path leads to no additional taxes needed. When I leave my car at home, you get less traffic to contend with and I get exercise.

    Skippy Expat Aussie in Austria
    Agree (5) | Disagree (4)

    This is simple common sense. However it shouldn’t even be necessary. Roads should be designed with all road users in mind, not just motorists.

    I ride my bike every day and I’m sick of the way cyclists are treated. However I think pushing the problem onto pedestrians is simply not going to work. Bear in mind that most pavement cyclists are considerate of pedestrians. At most there have been 2 KSIs per year due to pavement cycling. There are on average around 16 KSIs due to pavement motoring, and this is enforced even less than pavement cycling.

    Steve, Merseyside
    Agree (8) | Disagree (9)

    Mr Robjant is perfectly correct in saying that Ministerial Guidance as a method of assessing the will of parliament has been around for long time. However the law regarding cycling on the pavement has always been quite clear and needs absolutely no clarification, it’s illegal full stop.

    The Minister’s actions must be viewed in the same way as if it was another of the road traffic laws that was being broken. Would he advise that so long as a motorist exerecised due care and attention it would be OK for them to exceed the speed limit? I very much doubt that he would.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
    Agree (12) | Disagree (4)

    Whether it’s an offence or not, I can’t help thinking that cyclists who are genuinely “considerate” and “responsible” would not think about riding on the footway in the first place because a) it’s anti-social and hazardous to others (if not themselves) and b) they have the nouse to be able to ride safely on the c/way in the first place, where they’re supposed to be.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (14) | Disagree (4)

    It is deeply sad that the terms of this discussion set cyclists and pedestrians as competing for restricted space. The real issue is that motorised vehicles are so privileged on roads that the road is not safe for non motorised vehicles. The problem is with the allocation of all the available space – to pedestrians, to cycles, and to vehicles. Cyclists do not want to use pavements: they recognise that this isn’t ideal for themselves or pedestrians. But where the road configuration is dangerous – and where there is space on the pavement – using the pavement is a rational response. Cyclists and pedestrians need to work together to make a better non motorised environment with space for both.

    Debra, Balmedie
    Agree (10) | Disagree (10)

    Sahsah – Do you really feel a personal attack is necessary. I was under the impression that house rules prevented abusive comments. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

    Changing the subject, the issue of cyclist/pedestrians cyclists/motorists is a highly emotive one for many. Those who frequently walk but infrequently cycle will have a different view and personal feelings to regular cyclists. Likewise, pedestrians with children will view other pedestrians differently and so it goes on. We need to open minds, discuss (not attack) and take off our blinkers if we are to get anywhere.

    Enforcement will be a difficult issue to tackle. Who will say what is considerate and what is not? Who will do the enforcment and how will the cyclist be traced? There are many questions unanswered. Every day I see a driver chatting away on their phone while driving, sometimes at high speed and they know their chances of getting caught are slim. Ditto speeding. This morning I lost count of the number of people travelling at in excess of the posted speed limit. Did they get caught, no they did not, and I am sure that there are people reading this article and the various comments that will themselves have broken a speed limit and got away with it.

    Perhaps the question of licences and tax, insurance etc is something for consideration but as an entity in its own right and without connection to existing tax/licence systems, or by utitlising a different system (public liability perhaps, maybe a change to household insurance etc. etc the list of insurance types on offer is a long one).

    I will sit on the fence until such time as we have more detailed information and viewpoints from ALL road users. As noted, there is more than one view point, more than one option and more than one idea… and in the end all of this might be for nothing as it will ‘just happen gradually’ and no one, or just a small minority, will have a problem with it.

    Stuart, London
    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    The law as written gives no leeway and is subject to discretion in application. A fairer law would have written the “discretion” into it and not relied upon guidance from above. The offence should be for “Riding a bicycle on the footpath without due care and consideration for others.” Then it would be up to the police to prove that you weren’t giving due care and consideration for others.

    Anyway, the original law was written way back when there wasn’t any motorised transport apart from a few rare steam driven carriages, everything else was muscle propelled… and it made sense to keep cycles off the footpaths because there was a perfectly safe place for them already.

    Paul_C, Gloster
    Agree (3) | Disagree (2)

    “If drivers and motorcyclists have to, then why not cyclists?”…

    While I do not condone bad behaviour by any individual that endangers others, the craziest thing in this oil-sick society is that people still cannot understand the difference between fast heavy machinery and a cyclist. Also, what about the 1,200 injuries near schools in the UK every month as a result of motorists? Licensing and taxing doesn’t prevent that! There is a much bigger underlying problem here than licensing and taxing which doesn’t prevent 24,000 unsolved vehicular hit and runs every year.

    Agree (5) | Disagree (7)

    In reply to Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon, it has always been a part of English Law that the will and intention of parliament is relevant to determining the meaning of a law in a court, and Ministerial Guidance as a method of assessing the will of parliament has been around for long time. For informed comments on this kind of issue:

    David Robjant, Bedford
    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    Karen in Ashford: A cyclist riding in the circumstances you describe would not be considered to be riding consideratey and would be legible for an FPN. If you read the article properly, it is only those that ride considerately that are exempt. The rest of your post regarding tax, insurance and licenses is complete and utter nonsense. You may wish to educate yourself by visiting

    Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

    Government needs to create proper, segregated space for cycling; so, just look at where people choose to ride the bicycle on the pavement out of fear of motor traffic on the roads and put in proper infrastructure there.

    Andrew Reeves-Hall, Whitchurch, Hampshire
    Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

    Duncan and others.

    To be fair to Mr Goodwill, he is not changing the law but simply reaffirming guidance issued by the Home Office several years ago.

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News
    Agree (0) | Disagree (2)

    Not the Minister’s job to say what level of law breaking is acceptable as that is entirely down to the courts to decide. If the Minister wishes to change the law then it is right and proper that he puts the change before Parliament so it can be voted on.

    To do anything else is called ‘Rule by Proclaimation’ which is specifically not allowed so for a Minister of the Crown to make such a statement he is effectively bypassing the democratic process and all its safeguards.

    Not long ago a Minister making such a statement would be hauled over the coals by the Speaker of the House of Commons, because they are simply not allowed to do such a thing. The fact that this can pass without comment or censure is a very worrying situation indeed.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
    Agree (10) | Disagree (2)

    Cycles are zero emission and therefore are not subject to vehicle excise duty (road tax was abolished in 1936).

    vic marks northampton
    Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

    I am a pedestrian. I can drive but I do not own a car and I use public transport or I walk. I also have young children. It is already hard enough to walk along a busy pavement with a pushchair and a 5-year old, allowing cyclists to use the same pavement will just make matters worse. I’m not referring to shared use or segregated facilities, I am referring to your ‘standard’ 1m to 1.5m approximate width pavement. What happens if I or my child is injured by a passing cyclist? I agree, cyclists should have insurance and pay tax and they should also undergo some form of training and test in order to hold a licence if they want to use the public highway. If drivers and motorcyclists have to, then why not cyclists?

    Karen, Ashford
    Agree (13) | Disagree (6)

    What a wonderful idea, we can stop spending tax payers money on cycle lanes and advanced cycle boxes at traffic signals. Perhaps a better idea would be to make cyclists pay road tax, have insurance and be made to wear crash helmets.

    Bob, Barnsley
    Agree (8) | Disagree (4)

    I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that pedestrians are no longer part of any equation when it comes to road safety. While there are considerate cyclists there are those that beleive they ‘own the road/footway’ and expect others to get out of their way so that they can continue their journey unimpeded. How cyclists think that a red light signal does not apply to them, likewise there is no need for them to dismount at a crossing – any crossing. In order to be recognised in today’s society the impression is you need to be a driver, rider or cyclist and preferably able bodied with excellent hearing and eyesight.

    Helen, Winchester
    Agree (13) | Disagree (1)

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