There are a few grey areas when it comes to cycling. What is legal, and what isn’t? Which road laws apply, and how do they affect cyclists?
One of the most common questions we get asked is, is it illegal to ride a bike on the pavement? With the question the law is pretty clear – yes it is, cyclists should stay off the pavement. These public walkways are reserved for pedestrians alone. The law governing the use of bicycles on pavements has been put in place for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. A bicycle accident on a pavement can cause significant injuries and even death.
If you have sustained an injury from a cyclist riding on the pavement, you may be eligible to pursue personal injury compensation. A cyclist using the pavement will likely be negligent by default, and a personal injury solicitor can help fight your cause.
In this guide, we will look at the law governing cyclists riding on pavements, how to stay safe and what to do if you or a loved one are injured due to a negligent cyclist.
Is there a law against cycling on the pavement?
There is not just one law, but several that prevent cyclists from using the pavement as their own personal racetrack. Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 prohibits cycling on footpaths, which includes any path at the side of the road. Rule 64 of the Highway Code also provides clear, unambiguous instruction that ”you must not cycle on the pavement.”
Cycling on the pavement is punishable by law with penalty notices and fines. Although a cyclist can be fined up to £500, the police will usually issue a fixed penalty notice of £50 instead. The penalty notice is charged under schedules 3 and 51 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.
As you can see, the law is very clear that cycling on the pavement is prohibited. The possibility of injuring a pedestrian is just too high.
The penalty for cycling where you shouldn’t will be at the discretion of the law enforcement officer. If a police officer notices you cycling on the pavement, they could just give you a warning and advise you not to do it again. However, if you put pedestrians’ lives in danger and are a repeat offender, you could be fined or face legal action in court.
As mentioned above, a cyclist who injures a pedestrian while cycling on a pavement would also be liable if a bicycle accident claim is made against them.
Do I have to ride my bike on the road?
In the UK, all cyclists need to ride on the left-hand side of the road and never against oncoming traffic. Using cycle lanes is not compulsory, but it is the safest cycling option for both you and pedestrians. You have to cycle on the road or in designated areas for cyclists. Doing so can prevent an accident where you may otherwise be found guilty of personal injury or reckless driving.
There was no detailed information on where a cyclist should ride on the road in the first edition of the Highway Code. Cyclists would usually stick close to the curbside or on the designated cycle paths. It is now common knowledge that cyclists are allowed to ride in the centre of the road. This applies mainly to quiet roads or streets where traffic moves slower than usual.
This new law stipulates that although cyclists must ride on the roads, they now have more space to operate when cycling. Cyclists do not always want to use the road – competing against traffic and reckless motor users can be daunting. Still, more and more laws are being created to accommodate and encourage responsible cyclists.
At what age is it illegal to cycle on the pavement?
Young children learning to cycle, especially those using stabilisers or training wheels, are generally tolerated on the pavement. It is up to the discretion of the police officer to determine if a child’s cycling is considered a nuisance or a danger to pedestrians. There isn’t a specific age limit in the law for children cycling on the pavement.
However, it is generally understood that very young children, who are still learning to ride and may not be able to navigate roads safely, can cycle on the pavement. As children grow older and gain more cycling skills, they should transition to cycling on the road or designated cycling areas, adhering to the law and ensuring the safety of both pedestrians and themselves.
Why do cyclists ride on the pavement?
It may seem completely normal to cycle on the pavement, especially in quieter neighbourhoods, but cycling is not what it used to be. Bicycles are becoming more advanced – they can go faster than ever, and cyclists are constantly pushing their new gear to the limits. Although there is no stopping cyclists from enjoying their active lifestyle, they must still be responsible road users.
There may be many reasons why cyclists still ride on the pavement, even if it is illegal. Some people do not consider bicycles as roadworthy. This is a common misconception, and you should stick to designated cycle tracks, paths, and roads.
Yes, some cyclists may have a fear of the road, but there are various reasons for accidents between cars and cyclists, including poor road conditions, lack of visibility, and driver error. Running a red light or cycling recklessly can increase the risk of accidents.
Cyclists may also be tempted to use the pavement to take shortcuts. Other times, the road may just be unfit for use. Cyclists are no friends of potholes or road debris, but neither are pedestrians connecting with hightailing cyclists. Stick to the road, and navigate the obstacles with some care.
What happens if a cyclist hits a pedestrian while cycling on the pavement?
While the police might be a tad more lenient with first-time offenders, pavement cyclists can still get into a great deal of trouble if they injure a pedestrian or even if they cause damage to someone’s property. As a pedestrian, you can initiate a personal injury claim against the cyclist in this case.
Should a solicitor successfully prove that the cyclist was reckless and cycled on the pavement (which is, lest not forget, illegal), the culprit can be found guilty and fined. If a cyclist knocks down a pedestrian on the pavement, they should never leave the scene of the accident. Fleeing is incriminating at best and can lead to criminal charges.
The specific penalties, including potential prison sentences, will depend on the severity of the accident and the circumstances surrounding the incident, and will be determined by the court on a case-by-case basis. If a cyclist hits a pedestrian, they need to check if the victim is hurt and exchange contact details.
It’s also crucial to get in contact and consult with a solicitor for advice on how to handle a personal injury claim if you have been injured by somebody cycling on the pavement.
If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and want to learn more about making a bicycle accident claim, call 0800 678 1410. Alternatively, you can request a call back using our online claim form. A friendly legal adviser will provide you with a free consultation and answer any questions you may have.