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Walking and cycling


We want to see more cycling as well as walking. Both are green, clean and healthy ways of getting around.

Pedestrians and cyclists share many common objectives – both forms of transport have been marginalised at the expense of motor vehicles.


Pavement cycling is illegal. The maximum available penalty is a fine of £500 but Fixed Penalty Notices are most commonly used.

Living Streets wants the law to be better enforced, but more importantly calls for more to be done to make cyclists feel safer on the road so that they don't feel the need to use pavements.

A person cycling on the carraigeway

Image: Jon Challicom

What we want

A major cause of pavement cycling is the perceived risk to cyclists from fast-moving motor traffic.

We believe that the best way to make all our streets safer for everyone is to introduce a default speed limit of 20mph in built-up areas.

Only a small minority of cyclists use the pavement and affect pedestrians. So we want to see greater enforcement by police of cycling offences, particularly pavement cycling.

We also need an urgent review of how the justice system deals with mistakes, carelessness, recklessness and deliberately dangerous behaviour by all road users.

What cycling organisations want

Speaking in support of our #CutTheClutter campaign, Cycling UK and British Cycling said:

"We support clutter-free pavements and cycle lanes. Whether you’re walking or cycling, poorly placed signage or street furniture isn’t just an inconvenience but can often be a dangerous hazard.

"Our organisations also urge councils to meet the demand for well-located cycle parking. If bikes are parked on narrow pavements, for lack of good alternatives, this causes obvious problems particularly for disabled people, just as it does when people cycle on pavements for lack of good cycle facilities.”

What the law says about pavement cycling

Highways Act 1835

It is an offence for a cyclist to hinder or obstruct the free passage of a footway or passage or to wilfully ride on any footway or footpath.

Cyclists in breach of this may have to pay an on the spot FPN fine of £50.

Offences Against the Person Act

It is an offence to cause bodily harm by ‘wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect’. This applies to cyclists.

Wilkinson’s Road Traffic Offences cites cases where this offence was charged against pavements cyclists who caused an injury which resulted in death.

Highway Code

Rule 64: you must not cycle on a pavement. 

Additionally, pavement cycling is prohibited in London under section 54(7) of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 and in other areas under section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847.

There are exceptions...

It is not unreasonable for children learning to ride a bike to use the pavement with parental supervision. Children over ten should be cycling on clearly defined cycle paths or on the road.

In some areas cyclists and pedestrians can share the footpath, these are called cycle tracks (s3 Cycle Tracks Act 1984) or shared use paths. When using segregated tracks cyclists must “keep to the side intended for cyclists as the pedestrian side remains a pavement or footpath” (Rule 62 Highway Code).


What do you think about cycle hire schemes?

The potential to get people out of their cars and cycling is exciting. But, the introduction of cycle hire schemes has not been without problems. All cyclists should know their responsibilities to cycle safely. Cycle hire parking also needs to be provided so that it doesn’t negatively impact on people on the pavement. Traditionally bike parking takes space from pedestrians, but in city centres the pavements are full and it’s time some road space, such as car parking bays, made way for cycles too.

If cycling on the pavement is illegal, why do so many cyclists continue to do it?

The number may be small, but when a pedestrian is tragically killed or injured by someone cycling this doesn’t make it any less devastating for the family involved. Many cyclists report cycling on the pavement because they feel unsafe on the road. Dangerous driving, high speed limits, and a lack of designated cycle lanes make our streets less safe for everyone. But the current legal framework is not acting as an effective deterrent to acting dangerously on the road. 

Do you support shared spaces or shared use schemes between cyclists and pedestrians?

Despite its good intentions, we have come to reject shared space because of the risks it poses to pedestrians – especially blind and partially sighted people. To improve our streets for walking and cycling we need to take space away from motor vehicles. Pavements are for people, and they should be for the sole use of pedestrians. Space for cycle lanes should come from the road space, instead of the pavement.