Problem with ‘pavement cycling’? Blame the council

This tweet from Thames Valley Police in Windsor has attracted a fair amount of derision.

Principally because what the police are ‘enforcing’ is, well, unenforceable – it’s simply an advisory dismount sign, rather than an actual restriction – but also because it’s not a particularly sensible use of resources. Lots of people complaining about something will obviously not necessarily equate to something that is an objectively high priority in terms of keeping people safe.

But the context of this ‘dismount’ sign is revealing (and thanks to @ChrisC_CFC for spotting the location). It’s Maidenhead Road in Windsor. What is immediately apparent is that all the footways along this road are shared use. The footway on the approach to the barrier where the policeman is standing is shared use –

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-11-59-18The footway on the other approach to the other side of this section of footway is also shared use –


And the fairly narrow footway on the other side of the road is also shared use (although this appears to have recently been widened, perhaps in an attempt to ‘encourage’ people to cycle on the footway on this side of the road) –


… And, as far as I can tell, the footway between the barriers is also shared use, despite the signs advising people to dismount.

So, as usual, the picture is one of inconsistency. Councils are happy to lump cycling onto the pavement with pedestrians where they can get away with it – it’s a nice easy option that doesn’t involve making difficult choices about allocation of urban space. But of course that decision will also bring people walking and cycling into conflict with one another, particularly in busier locations.

The ‘solution’ here in Windsor seems to have been to put up some barriers and an advisory sign in the hope that people will get off and walk for two hundred metres. Obviously people won’t do that – why would they, when they have been legally cycling on footways either side – so naturally the police have been called out to ‘enforce’ dismounting ‘advise’ people to dismount.

All in all, it’s pretty dismal. If you push people walking and cycling into the same relatively small portion of urban space, you shouldn’t be surprised when conflict arises; nor should you be surprised that people are unwilling to choose to dismount on one section of footway when you have legalised it on other sections.

The responsibility for all these problems lies with the council. Looking at the photos of the road above, there really is an enormous amount of roadspace here that could be repurposed, if we were actually serious about prioritising walking and cycling, and reducing conflict between the two modes on a permanent basis.

It wouldn’t even have to be particularly expensive. The central hatching could be removed, the parking bays moved out by an equivalent distance, and – hey presto – a parking-protected cycle lane, separate from the footway, would spring into existence.


No more pavement cycling; no more dismount signs required; no more wasted police resources; no more embarrassing photo opportunities.

How about it?

This entry was posted in Infrastructure, Pavement cycling, Police. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Problem with ‘pavement cycling’? Blame the council

  1. Simon says:

    I’m going to go for a big fat “No! How dare you take away so much of the road space which we car drivers absolutely have to have.” or something like that. Witness the fuss in London over a handful of Cycle Superhighways.

    As always, you’ve identified the lack of interest form the authorities in providing good quality cycling provision. They might say they are committed to good cycling infrastructure, but their actions show their real view.

    I wrote to my local councilors recently about the utter lack of cycling provision in Haywards Heath where I live. They haven;t even had the decency to respond – I’m looking forward to having a chat to them next time they come to my door asking for my vote.

  2. Mark Hewitt says:

    I never did get the centre hatching thing. It seems such a monumental waste of road space when having shoulders would yield far better results and leave space for cycling.

    • Paul Luton says:

      The point seems to be to allow space for the Right-Turn Lane further along.

    • meltdblog says:

      Its a balance between the throughput increase from the median turning lanes which allows traffic to pass a vehicle waiting to turn, and the throughput increase from adding bicycle lanes. While there is no cycling on the road the median turning lanes are easily justified, but in the style of chicken and egg, few people will cycle along here and put up with drivers harassing them to get out of the way so the cycling volume will never be enough to justify providing exclusive cycling space at the cost of something else.

      At a rough guess you’d need the number of cyclists on the road per hour to be more than the number of turning events per hour before the cycling infrastructure would be arguably the better solution.

      Elsewhere you can see medians added for “driver safety” or to include pedestrian refuges, much more questionable uses when it causes pinch points for cycling.

  3. Paul Luton says:

    ” parking-protected cycle lane, separate from the footway, “. Of the 3m ? space available one would need 1m kerb to avoid doors being opened into the cycle track. Care would be needed at junctions parking-protected can be dangerously parking-obscured.

    • marmotte27 says:

      The parking question just shows the wider problem we’re facing here. A row of 19th century terraced houses with absolutely no parking space to them, as is extremely common in many places in the UK. So public land is virtually privatised for car ownership. Car ownership has to be discouraged, which would be one step towards solving a lot of problems: less cars, less road space taken up, less motorized traffic, more cycling, therefore more cycling security…

      • Bmblbzzz says:

        Yes, it’s a problem that is, I would say, recognised – if not by people in general at least by planners, politicians, and even car manufacturers – and that lies at the root of so many ways we’re currently seeing of avoiding and skirting round the problem: electric vehicles, self-driving cars, trams, bus lanes, RPZs, smart motorways, etc etc, arguably even cycle paths.

      • Tim says:

        Surely one way to discourage car ownership in a given location would be to remove free on-street parking. After all, why should it be okay to leave your private property on public land by default?

        I’d like to see the default be no parking, unless specifically allowed by traffic order and specific markings, etc. The current situation of park-where-you-like-unless-there-are-double-yellows is far too generous to car owners, and is open to abuse.

        • D. says:

          “Surely one way to discourage car ownership in a given location would be to remove free on-street parking. After all, why should it be okay to leave your private property on public land by default?”

          I agree, but it will never happen – that is way too much of a cultural change.

          I live just outside (but cycle-commute into and work in) Bristol. Bristol has been introducing residents parking zones, which mean that you can’t just park outside your house unless you display your permit (businesses get customer permits, but several have been caught out handing them to their staff). You get x number of visitor permits to use over a year and can buy more if you want to. Otherwise, you have to pay-and-display for any on-road parking.

          You seriously would have thought that the council was wanting to licence the drowning of puppies, the way that some but not all residents reacted to this: there were on-street demonstrations, a tank (seriously – a tank!) was rented from somewhere and driven to the Council House to complain (I’ve love to know how much damage that did to the roads).

          And yet despite everything, the world hasn’t ended. You can now park more easily. And is paying-and-displaying for an hour while you go around the shops really that big a deal?

          • Bmblbzzz says:

            The central zones which have been established a while generally have support from residents, precisely because they eliminate the commuter parking which used to occupy residential streets. Eliminating this commuter parking is a two-fold advantage: not only is it easier for residents and their visitors to park in their streets, but the removal of hurried commuters driving round looking for spaces while kids are walking to school is a safety benefit. It’s just a tiny bit less noisy and less dirty too – just a tiny bit!

            But there’s been attempt to match the overall number of permits issued to the amount of space available. If you pay, you can have up to three permits per household – and a permit-free space outside your drive! So for less than 50p a day you can continue to park two cars on the street, which is what most people do; hence no reduction in car use in the central zones.

  4. Yoav says:

    I interpret the ‘cyclists dismount’ as ‘we can’t be bothered to make cycling safe at this point so we’ll just ask you to get off your bike’.

    I might be prepared to comply if I start seeing signs telling car drivers to get out and push their cars through junctions, round traffic islands, etc.

    • Mark Williams says:

      It’s white text on a blue rectangle, therefore informational-only. It also has a minimum character size consistent with signs intended to be read while speeding along the carriageway and far larger than would ordinarily be allowed solely for the benefit of mere cyclists. I read it as `oy, motorists; cyclists do dismount’. Just a [randomly placed] statement of the bleedin’ obvious, like so many other UK road signs—but you can’t assume that native motorists would be able to work this out otherwise!

      The most temperate reply to any police employee seeking to `enforce’ this sign is something like `yes, I know we do’.

  5. Hashtag: #cyclesafe
    Promoting: CYCLISTS DISMOUNT (capital letters)

    The question is:
    Is that oxymoron intentional (strategy) or innocent (naivity)?

    We in Germany are facing just that strategy: The war on cycling is mostly carried on in the name of safety.
    Therefore the traffic police acts in the front rank. In Germany they have essential administrative authorisation since they are both traffic police and lower transport department in personal union. Car-friendliness and bike-hostility are deep seated in their esprit de corps.
    I’m campaigning in Hamburg and I can say, here the traffic police, especially in function of lower transport department are the bandogs against even the least change towards bike friendliness.
    Every possibilty to make cycling harder is taken. Not for political matters, beware. It’s all safety reasons.
    Because safe cycling means dismounting (and enter the car).

    Hard to deal with. Indeed communication between cyclists and police is necessary so it remains without good prospects. Esprits de corps tend to resist change from outside or from the bottom. Change in these cultures must be ordered from topdown. Political leadership is required.

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