Comment: Cycling crackdown must be sensible

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Seeing a bike hurtling along the pavement towards you can be a scary sight. It can also be dangerous especially for pedestrians who can’t easily jump out of the way, perhaps because they are older or have young children with them.

That is why cycling on pavements is illegal in Scotland – to prevent accidents. Of course the police have plenty of other priorities to juggle. And most people would prefer that they spent more time chasing housebreakers than anti-social cyclists.

Few though would argue with the idea that cycling on pavements is antisocial.

Pedestrians and cyclists don’t easily mix together on the confined space available on most city footways.

That mix might yet work on the new city centre cycle routes, but only if everyone knows the rules about who is supposed to go where – and follows them. Otherwise it is a recipe for conflict and potential accidents.

The growing number of cyclists on our streets means that it is an appropriate time to put more effort into rooting out bad behaviour by people on bikes.

Many motorists will be pleased to see cyclists facing more of the kind of scrutiny – and potential punishment – that they have been used to for years. Quite rightly, drivers can be fined, have penalty points added to their licence and be banned from the road for their misdemeanours. Imposing fines on errant cyclists has to be just too.

The police and city council, though, must keep sight of their true target in any crackdown. It is not cyclists in general, it is the handful who behave recklessly.

As with any form of transport, there are a small number who ride bikes and behave like idiots. They deserve instant fines.

Most cyclists though behave responsibly. And most cyclists who go on to the pavement do so for a reason – because they don’t feel safe on some of the city’s busiest roads. While they are on the pavements, most are mindful of pedestrians, and take care to give them a wide berth.

That is not to say these cyclists should be allowed to continue. But, when you are dealing with this reasonable majority, the response should be appropriate.

It should be a case of education, rather than punishment, at least for the time being. They should be warned about the risks they are posing for pedestrians and sent on their way. We should not be treating people like criminals simply for trying to cycle in the city and stay safe, and all the while watching out for others.