A short rant about bicycles on the pavement

bicycles on the pavement

I was walking to work this morning and coming towards me was a woman pushing a pushchair. (With a baby in, not just for fun.)

Another woman came up behind pushchair lady on a bike, and there was an awkward moment where they jostled for position on the pavement. As she cycled past, the woman on the bike gave pushchair lady a look, as though somehow she had been the one getting in the way. As she walked past I gave pushchair lady a friendly smile, designed to show pedestrian solidarity, but my glasses were covered with rain and I think it came out wrong.

Anyway, that’s not okay is it? It’s a pavement! And it’s actually against the law. I just looked it up.

Cycling on footways (a pavement by side of a carriageway) is prohibited by Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888. 

(It works best if you say that in a geeky voice – I may learn it by heart so I can recite it at cyclists.)

It’s punishable by a £30 fine in fact.

Now I know that cycling on roads can be dangerous and scary. Personally I am way too much of a wimp to cycle on the road. Put me on a bike near traffic and I panic, make a funny squeaky noise, wobble and fall off. But that doesn’t mean I cycle on the pavement instead, it means I walk.

Am I being unreasonable here? Are cyclists so badly treated by drivers that they have to be on the pavement or am I right to be enraged?

In my opinion, the only time a bicycle should be on the pavement is if it’s painted pink and ready for me to take an Instagram photo, like this one:

pink bike

might make an exception if it’s an eight year old girl cycling slowly to school, and she rings her bell politely and says thank you when she passes me, and she had pigtails. But even then I’m still going to be tutting a bit inside.

The very worst is men in baseball caps who ride BMX bikes really fast on the pavement, and you have to jump out of the way and bang into a bin, otherwise they will just plough into you. It’s not cool. When did it become a thing that cyclists think they are allowed to just help themselves to my pavement, just because they don’t fancy the road? Get a helmet and some proper lights and cycle on the road like you’re meant to or otherwise, on yer bike!

Well, off it actually, but you know what I mean.

Images – Adam Wasilewski and iryna1 from shutterstock.



  1. Simon
    22 February, 2017 / 10:49 am

    Completely in agreement with this post! I tend to hold my ground and make the slowmor stop, then I tell them off. I’m rapidly perfecting my grumpy-old-man-ness!

  2. 22 February, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    I totally agree. My guide dog knew to avoid obstacles, but it’s more difficult when you’ve got some crazy cyclist coming towards you at speed. Don’t get me started on cyclists jumping red lights and scaring pedestrians when the pedestrians have right of way… I don’t want to come across as anti-cyclist, but some really do give the rest a bad name.

  3. Suze
    22 February, 2017 / 10:22 pm

    Happens to me all the time. Just recently I’ve been told off by a cyclist whilst I was minding my own business waiting to cross the road with my buggy.Headphone in (listening to a radio 4 download of all things not heavy metal so I was awareally of my surroundings),I didn’t notice bike lady approach immediately and she couldn’t pass me on the pavement, told me to take my earphones out and I was in her way. I moved over meekly before thinking hang on a minute and shouting ‘you rude lady you shouldn’t be on the pavement anyway!’. Glad I’m not the only one who’s irritated by this. There is a particular one way system cyclists try and avoid in Taunton and i kind of understand they can take a short cut using the pavement but pedestrian’s should have the right of way!

  4. Margaret Clarkson
    23 February, 2017 / 8:04 am

    You are correct. A few years ago I had to go to outpatients after been knocked down by a man riding his bike on the pavement, in the evening, with no lights on.

  5. Sarah
    23 February, 2017 / 11:50 am

    I agree but even moreso, I’ve seen people on mobility scooters on pavements not giving way to mothers with pushchairs and instead flying past like they are in the right. I dread to think of the harm that could come to a child strapped into a pushchair in the face of a mobility scooter. It really makes my blood boil

  6. Claire
    23 February, 2017 / 2:45 pm

    Argh, this makes me so annoyed, even more so now that I have a pushchair to manoeuvre around! I don’t really mind if it’s little kids on bikes, but adults – get on the flipping road! It’s not like the traffic in my village is fast or busy enough to be a danger to cyclists so they really have no excuse! Grrrr.

  7. Emma
    23 February, 2017 / 6:55 pm

    Don’t get me started on this! Here in Milan we have actually had to adopt the approach of stopping and looking both ways before exiting our front gate on foot, otherwise you risk being knocked off your feet on a daily basis!! It’s true that motorists here are possibly the least attentive in the entire world, but the cyclists definitely give them a run for their money in the wreckless-driving stakes! Nightmare!

  8. 25 February, 2017 / 12:03 pm

    Your writing reminds me of my childhood memories. I used to ride my bicycle with my dad. Golden time of my life. Thank you Jo, for this lovely post. Loved it:)

  9. Spencer Broadley
    25 February, 2017 / 3:01 pm

    You are right to be enraged – young 3-5 year olds I can understand I used to ride on the road (in my early years) – Cyclists who feel they can just use the pavement should have their bike crunched – I got a bad leg injury from a speeding cyclist on the pavement as I got out of the shop – I started kicking out and stamped his bike making it unusable and the police had the audacity to try and arrest ME until I pointed he was violating the law (laughably I was working for Dept for Transport at the time!!)

  10. 26 February, 2017 / 10:29 pm

    While struggling home on foot with shopping some time ago along a narrow footpath, an old lady looking not unlike Princess Margaret approached on a bicycle. As she forced me into the hedge with my shopping bags, I got all brave, and called her out for cycling on the footpath. She immediately launched into a foul mouthed tirade a lorry driver would have been proud of.

  11. 8 March, 2017 / 9:49 pm

    I have a withdrawn Guide Dog puppy and up until recently, had one in training (he’s since flown the nest for further training) and the amount of cyclists on the pavement who expect us to move is ridiculous. Even when we were walking on a pavement with a very wide patch of grass next to it and my dog was wearing his jacket to alert people he was working, I still had cyclists ringing their bells at me and forcing us onto the grass. It’s ignorant enough when cyclists think they have more of a right to the pavement than pedestrians do but it’s even more frustrating when someone with a service dog, young child/children or a buggy is forced out the way because a cyclist is too lazy to cycle on the road.

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