An older people’s campaigner has called on his local council to clamp down on young people riding their bikes on the pavement, and has criticised parents for teaching their primary school-aged children to cycle on footpaths, potentially endangering pedestrians.
Chris Pickett, a former Older People’s Champion in Melksham, says that Wiltshire Council should make it clear that pavements are “primarily for pedestrians” – and despite what he views as the Highway Code’s “strong bias towards cyclists”, pedestrians and motorists “have a right to safe passage”.
“I am sure many of our older generation who wish to walk safely around our towns for exercise, shopping, social contact etc, will have similar complaints that the pavements are being made more and more unsafe, due to the increase in cyclist riding (often too fast) along what is a narrow pedestrian footway, in very close proximity to traffic that travels at 30mph – which we all know can kill should we step into the road,” the 75-year-old told the Wiltshire Times.
“This complaint is levelled at both adults and children, for which parental guidance must be improved.”
> “In the middle of the road!” Motorist berates children cycling “harmlessly home from school” on empty cul-de-sac
The campaigner’s criticism comes after he saw a man, aged between 18 and 20, doing wheelies along a pavement in the centre of Melksham on Saturday.
“I guess he thought he was clever but it was downright stupidity,” he said. “Anyone could have walked out of the shops and he would have ploughed straight into them.”
The 75-year-old also criticised the number of children riding their bikes home from the local primary school on what he claims is a “particularly narrow” footpath – and says that children should be taught by their parents from a young age to ride safely on the road.
“Some parents are either on a bike themselves or walking some distance behind. In both cases oblivious of what they are teaching their children,” Mr Pickett said.
“I make an apology to a mother who, though riding on the road, felt that her son was safer on the pavement, but was unable to see that had she taught the child to ride on the road alongside her he would be both safe, as would the pedestrians.”
> Viral video of driver refusing to stop for five-year-old cyclist debated on Jeremy Vine's Channel 5 show
He continued: “My reason is to enlist the support of Wiltshire Council, and its elected members, to instigate a method that will make it clear to all, that the pavements in our towns are primarily for pedestrians and only when legally designated, can they be use as a ‘dual footpath’ for cyclist and pedestrians.
“We currently have a new Highway Code which has been written with a strong bias towards cyclists. This I have no problem with, provided the pedestrian (and motorists) have a right to a safe passage and not to be at risk of being either, involved in an accident or personally injured by selfish cyclists.”
Of course, despite Mr Pickett’s claims that the Highway Code is biased towards cyclists, pedestrians are, in fact, placed at the top of the hierarchy of vulnerable road users.
> Over half of UK drivers still confused by Highway Code change, shows survey
And the Melksham campaigner certainly isn’t the first person to make an appearance on the live blog because they’re unhappy with schoolchildren cycling on the pavement.
> “You couldn’t make it up”: Driver – in untaxed, SORN-registered car with expired MOT – mounts pavement on wrong side of the road… then chastises six-year-old for cycling on same footpath
Last October, we featured a video of a motorist parking his car by mounting the pavement on the wrong side of the road on a School Street in Lewisham – before immediately chastising a young cyclist and his father for riding their bikes on the same footpath.
And it’s not just children riding on footpaths that people get angry about – it’s when the kids ride on the roads too.
A month after our irony-deficient driver in Lewisham made the live blog, a clip of a motorist failing to stop to let a five-year-old cyclist past, before narrowly passing the youngster, went viral, causing an almighty stir online and even ending up on Jeremy Vine’s Channel 5 show and the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid’s Twitter feed.
And earlier this month, another driver was criticised online for scolding a group of schoolchildren for riding their bikes “in the middle” of an empty residential street.
A clip of the incident, filmed by Limerick-based cyclist Aidan Hogan, showed a group of young cyclists riding home from school when a motorist exits her car after appearing to park it on the street. The driver then gesticulates towards the children and calls out: “The middle of the road, in the middle of the road”.
Just goes to show, you can’t please everybody…