Police cycling laws have students seeing red

Oxford police have made the battle against bicycling on the pavement their ‘number one priority’ this spring, slapping offenders with £30 fines.

A Thames Valley Police spokesperson said stopping cyclists from using the pavement is their top priority around Summertown shops, Banbury Road and Woodstock Road.

In April, authorities let go with warnings 10 of 16 people caught cycling on pavements in the area, while all 12 caught in May were fined.

St John’s students Elizabeth Roche, Evelyn Jackson and Sebastian Lennox, whom police fined last Friday night for cycling on the Woodstock Road pavement, said the police should consider more exceptions to the law.

“Because the pavement is so wide, and there was no one on the pavement, we thought it was perfectly safe. Obviously if there were any people on the pavement, we would have ridden on the road,” Jackson said.

Roche and Lennox were cycling without lights and decided it would be safer to cycle on the empty pavement.

“We thought that without lights we shouldn’t be on the road, we should be on the pavement. We were trying to avoid being against the law basically, and then we got penalised for it,” Roche said.

Laura Vittet-Adamson, a first-year MPhil student at St Antony’s College, called the £30 fine “extreme”.

“I think it’s just silly that they’re making it their number one priority. Maybe they should make their priority bike theft or making sure people stop at red lights,” she said.

A police spokesperson said that police made stopping pavement cycling a priority after local residents named it their number one concern in a survey.

Will Salt, a Modern Languages second year at Keble College, said he felt the crackdown on pavement cycling is warranted: “In Oxford it’s a pretty big deal since you’ve got many people riding bikes.

“The crackdown is a good idea because cycling on the pavement can be dangerous.”

Police say a cyclist riding on the pavement injured a pedestrian last week.

Roche, the student who was fined for pavement cycling, called on colleges to raise awareness of laws on cycling: “I think there should be more bike safety awareness going on. The only thing we get in our freshers’ pack is something saying ‘make sure you chain your bikes’ and they get stolen a lot, but there’s no other information about rules. So for people like me who haven’t ridden a lot, I’m just not aware.”