Footpath cycling in the real world

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Mistik-ka
Posts: 468
Joined: 5 Feb 2012, 10:01pm
Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby Mistik-ka » 15 Feb 2017, 10:07pm

I know this topic has been much discussed, and I think I have a decent grasp of the law and the range of enforcement, but I have struggled with the question of "what do I do now?" on more than one occasion when cycle touring in Britain. I've borrowed Neilo's Google image from the Speeding motorists thread viewtopic.php?p=1098831#p1098831 because it illustrates the conundrum that has faced me not infrequently on rural roads.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.6446906,-3.6935357,3a,75y,39.08h,77.22t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s5YQrsDdhsKiL1rtuNQ-heQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en&authuser=0

Here's my situation: I'm captaining a thoroughly loaded tandem bicycle; our combined team age is 135 years. We can cruise happily on the level at 15mph if there's no wind. Assume, if you will, a speed limit of 30mph or higher, steady traffic in both directions (if you rotate the Google image and look behind, it'll put a bit of power in your pedal stroke :shock: ), and not a pedestrian in sight. (And no alternative cycle-friendly route.)

My inclination is to take to the footpath, pull well to the side or stop for pedestrians, and in the event of confrontation by the constabulary, play the cute-but-ignorant-old-couple-from-Canada card for all it's worth. Do you think this a reasonable tactic?

User avatar
531colin
Posts: 13413
Joined: 4 Dec 2009, 6:56pm
Location: North Yorkshire

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby 531colin » 15 Feb 2017, 10:19pm

Yes.
Be polite with the police......they aren't used to it, and it confuses them!..... :wink:

User avatar
meic
Posts: 19355
Joined: 1 Feb 2007, 9:37pm
Location: Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen)

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby meic » 15 Feb 2017, 10:54pm

In the very unlikely event of actually being given a ticket, it is a £30 fixed penalty notice.
So an incredibly low chance of a paltry fine.
It is quite common to see the Police cyclists themselves resorting to riding on the pavements.
Whenever I have met Police walking on the pavement that I am cycling on, they step aside to let me pass and we exchange hello's.
I wouldnt ring my bell at one though. :lol:
Yma o Hyd

User avatar
horizon
Posts: 10415
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Cornwall

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby horizon » 16 Feb 2017, 12:52am

Mistik-ka wrote:My inclination is to take to the footpath, pull well to the side or stop for pedestrians, and in the event of confrontation by the constabulary, play the cute-but-ignorant-old-couple-from-Canada card for all it's worth. Do you think this a reasonable tactic?


I agree with the others about not worrying about being stopped by police but what was wrong with the road? There are dual carriageways BTW that I will not cycle on - just that this looks like a nice road. The lorry looks fine BTW.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

ambodach
Posts: 978
Joined: 15 Mar 2011, 6:45pm

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby ambodach » 16 Feb 2017, 9:01am

On the A85 Oban to Dunbeg section local cyclists habitually use the footpath and I have never heard of anyone being challenged. There are some peds but not many and there seems no conflict.

pwa
Posts: 13885
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby pwa » 16 Feb 2017, 9:22am

Knowing that road very well, the pavement is infrequently used so if you used it with care (as you intend) you are not putting anyone else in danger.

Having said that, I've cycled on that road a lot without problems, and I see groups of road cyclists on it most weekends.

Are you travelling to the Lodge? If so, i can see why you are on the road. But if not, why not use the parallel cycle track that runs through the woodland just to one side? It's lovely and quiet, and as it is mostly converted rail track it is perfect for a tandem. And you meet other track users to say hello to. There are lots of friendly people down there.

Edit. Silly me. You just borrowed that image as an illustration. For me that path is a bit too narrow if you meet someone on it. And the road is not so intimidating.

User avatar
squeaker
Posts: 3763
Joined: 12 Jan 2007, 11:43pm
Location: Sussex

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby squeaker » 16 Feb 2017, 9:38am

pwa wrote:For me that path is a bit too narrow if you meet someone on it. And the road is not so intimidating.
Quite: not to mention the various hazards (entrances, overhanging branches etc.) and it looks as if being on the footway would not have helped much a bit further up the road if your timing was wrong :roll:
"42"

thirdcrank
Posts: 30834
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Feb 2017, 9:46am

I think that the occasional annoyed pedestrian is the most likely thing, but you might just as easily encounter them on a shared-use path.

In most circumstances, I fancy the police will take little more interest than perhaps wagging a finger from a briefly stopped panda car. I also think that many police officers would understand why you had taken refuge from heavy traffic on the pavement. Police Community Support Officers (PCSO's) are a bit of an unknown quantity, both in the sense that they were introduced after I retired and that as a stranger to an area, you won't know what local "clampdowns" are operating. If there has been a lot of complaints in a location, a PCSO or even a posse might be sent to do something and then we've had reports of tickets being issued when the specific offence under the Highways Act 1835 was not being committed. As a rule of thumb, I fancy that the likelihood of problems is reduced the further you are from London.

"In the real world" many footpaths are not so attractive for cycling - especially on a tandem - as they may seem. Pedestrian farcilities are often no better than the farcilities for cyclists, but only you know if you feel safe on a particular road. I used the streetview link to explore that road when it was posted to illustrate the speed limit and there's a big truck up the exhaust of the google car all the way through. It's a matter of balancing your concerns about traffic with worries about enforcement and nobody can be certain. If you were to be stopped, something on the lines of "Sorry, officer, but we were worried about the danger from the heavy traffic" might be more likely to save your day than another approach. (Don't play the clown. :wink: and also hope you don't meet a thirdcrank reincarnation on a bad hair day :wink: )

It is sad that at a time when the authorities have been supposedly encouraging cycling for a couple of decades that things are like this but those policies are no more than "aspirations." Hot air.

Mistik-ka wrote: ... our combined team age is 135 years. ...


How did such a youthful stoker end up with such an ancient skipper? :wink:

(Some private jokes in there indicated by :wink: )

PS:
Here's a post about a police posse in London when the Highways Act offence was not being committed.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=58539
Last edited by thirdcrank on 16 Feb 2017, 9:56am, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
meic
Posts: 19355
Joined: 1 Feb 2007, 9:37pm
Location: Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen)

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby meic » 16 Feb 2017, 9:53am

I agree that trying to ride a tandem on and off of such a pavement will be a pain in the neck.
I also expect that you will not encounter a single pedestrian whilst cycling that particular stretch for nine out of ten times that you ride it.
Yma o Hyd

pwa
Posts: 13885
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby pwa » 16 Feb 2017, 9:58am

squeaker wrote:
pwa wrote:For me that path is a bit too narrow if you meet someone on it. And the road is not so intimidating.
Quite: not to mention the various hazards (entrances, overhanging branches etc.) and it looks as if being on the footway would not have helped much a bit further up the road if your timing was wrong :roll:


Funnily enough, if you crashed through at that point and tumbled down the bank you would find yourself beside one of the best cycle tracks in the area, running roughly parallel to the road and passing through all the villages the road goes through. Which may be why, in practice, you almost never see anyone cycling on that pavement.

That road does have significant traffic, being the only road route up that long valley, but it is not especially intimidating. On that particular section the traffic you see will probably be going quite slowly. Vehicles approaching a tandem from behind will slow down further and, if necessary, wait. That is my experience there. You don't meet many aggressive drivers there. Though there will be exceptions, of course. But I see cyclists on that road a lot, and rarely if ever on the pavement. Most, though, are road cyclists heading up what becomes the highest A-road in Wales. They tend not to be nervous types. And those wanting to get away from the traffic completely use the nearby cycle track.

irc
Posts: 4831
Joined: 3 Dec 2008, 2:22pm
Location: glasgow

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby irc » 16 Feb 2017, 10:14am

I would suggest that in rural areas the OP assesses each situation on it's merits taking into account traffic volume and speed and number of pedestrians. Ignore the likelihood of getting ticketed by the police. Apart from busy city centres it is so close to zero as to be safely ignored.

Flinders
Posts: 3022
Joined: 10 Mar 2009, 6:47pm

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby Flinders » 16 Feb 2017, 10:25am

I was walking on a narrow tarmac footway by a very busy rural road this week, when a cyclist came up behind me (I didn't hear him, the road is very noisy with lorries etc) and he went off the footway, onto the road (in the 'wrong' direction- there was a break in the traffic) and back up onto the footway.
I felt bad about it, it's a steep kerb there even for his MTB and he could have ended up falling; I'd have willingly stepped onto the grass verge to let him past if I'd known he was there. All he had to do was slow up and say 'excuse me'. But he was off and away before I could say anything.

I was sad that he seemed to think a pedestrian would want to make them get off onto that road. It's horrible to cycle on that road, even the local roadies don't use it. I used to cycle in central London and even I won't use it. Even walking on the narrow footway is unpleasant.

I don't think most people mind if you stop when you see them to cross or overtake and just say 'excuse me'.

thirdcrank
Posts: 30834
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Feb 2017, 11:00am

Another thing about the suitability of particular footways for cycling concerns familiarity, in that I think that most adult or teenage pavement riders are either commuters who know their route well and have tried all the options or are kids playing out near home. OTOH, even if a pavement is signed as an official cycle route, many experienced riders will avoid it as useless and/or dangerous eg when rejoining or crossing a carriageway.

pwa
Posts: 13885
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby pwa » 16 Feb 2017, 11:15am

I'd regard it as antisocial to cycle on a roadside pavement if there were pedestrians on it, and even more unacceptable to expect the pedestrians to be the ones giving way. On a footpath the pedestrian has priority. On a footpath we should be able to walk without having to think about holding a disciplined line in case of cycle traffic coming from behind. Footpaths are the place where pedestrians should be able to expect not to have to make way for anyone on wheels. If you find yourself cycling on a pavement, you should remember that. If anyone stands to one side to make way for you they are doing you a favour.

User avatar
[XAP]Bob
Posts: 18064
Joined: 26 Sep 2008, 4:12pm

Re: Footpath cycling in the real world

Postby [XAP]Bob » 16 Feb 2017, 11:43am

I have had a conversation with a councillor recently - they are building a footpath alongside a road nearby - but they cleared a very wide strip of vegetation and are building a narrow path.

Turns out it's being built as a 'safer routes to schools' path. Which is fine - there is a village at one end and a couple of schools in the town it leads to. But that's a 2-3 mile distance (even if kids teleport to the start of the path).

I asked why it wasn't being done as a decent cycle path - the road is pretty hostile (50mph, not great visibility) - and it was all down to the cost of have 'to do legal' things (i.e. get a TRO I assume).
When I asked whether secondary school kids would likely to want to cycle that distance rather than walk it - the response was that they would be expected to use the path. At which point I get a bit cross.

Aside from the fact that the councillor thought that it would be a good justification for the path that there is a school which doesn't have planning permission in the area as well...
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.