Friday, 2 April 2004

Email received:
Dear Mr. Pipes,

I would appreciate your comments concerning the persistent problem of cyclist illegally riding on the pavement in Brighton. This problem is particularly bad along Queens Road, Air Street and the entire length of the seafront from King Alfreds to Madeira Drive (and beyond).

I have been scarred for life by a cyclist who collided with me when I was walking my dog along Brighton seafront. At the material time I was walking along the lower promenade between the piers. My Grandmother (some months before her death) refused a trip in her wheelchair along Hove seafront due to the real risk of injury by illegal cyclists. I am aware of many other victims of illegal cyclists. A week ago my right shoulder was sprained courtesy of a local cyclist. The cyclist threatened to assault me again if he saw me near his seafront. On weekends and evening cyclists illegal cyclists pass by at speeds in excess of 20mph every 3 � 5 seconds according to my own survey. Many cyclists ride �hands free� whilst talking on their mobile telephones.

As a cyclist I cannot understand the mentality of cyclists who flout the law. Some cyclists may claim that the roads are too dangerous. This does not bare rational analysis; cycling on the pavement exposes vulnerable pedestrians to an unnecessary risk of injury with no prospect of remedy (either by compensation or punishment of the offender) in the event of an accident. At the very least any responsible cyclist must have a competent knowledge of the Highway Code, wear a helmet and equip his / her bicycle with legal lights and reflectors.

I agree with the comments regarding the cycle lanes. A local councillor has suggested that the cycle lanes along the seafront are a mistake and have merely encouraged cyclists to stray and enter the lower promenade. Worthing Council abolished seafront cycle lanes following the death of an elderly woman in 2001 as a result of a collision with a cyclist. Brighton & Hove City Council are partly responsible for failing to provide adequate signs along the seafront. Nevertheless, I have sent a cd packed with photos of cyclists riding over the �no cycling� sign on Hove seafront near the Meeting House Caf� to Sussex Police for eventual use by the Crown Prosecution Service.

I believe that the problem may be mitigated by a combination of tactics including on the spot fines for illegal cyclists, the issuing of Cautions, confiscation of bicycles and public education. The Police can make use of the seafront CCTV system to monitor this problem. I wonder what happened to the National Cycling Proficiency Test scheme (which I passed in 1984)?

In the near future I will be meeting David Lepper MP to discuss the above with reference to the Councils proposals to invoke the Crime & Disorder Act 2001 against illegal cyclist.

I am very impressed by your website and content.

Kind Regards

Martyn Valentine

My reply:
thanks -- my beef is that the cycle lanes in Brighton and Hove are a retro-fit compromise, and don't join up (hence the temptation to stay on the pavement until the next stretch, rather than constantly dismounting and remounting). In Holland and elsewhere they would be separated from the road, and the pavement! I do however find the 'no cycling' along Hove esplanade very restrictive -- it is very wide and there is plenty of room for cyclists, wheelchair users, skateboarders, roller skaters and pedestrians walking their dogs to co-exist peacefully -- but that is my personal view. I do not condone breaking the law or jumping red lights, but the road system could be a lot more cyclist-friendly, especially with contra-flows along one-way streets -- which would remove the need to use the pavement. Accidents do happen, but think yourself lucky you weren't hit by a car -- the consequences could have been far more serious -- if more people used bikes, they would be a lot healthier and there would be less threat to public safety and the environment!

Perhaps you might like to join Bricycles (of which I am a member but do not represent) and help lobby the council for better cycle lane provision and cyclist training?



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