WARY West End residents are scared of stepping outside for fear of getting mowed down by cyclists on the pavement, a council committee has heard.
One councillor claimed law-breaking cyclists are causing pedestrians to feel “very unsafe” about stepping outside their front doors.
Police, meanwhile, pledged to beef-up patrols – with worst offenders facing being charged and hauled before the courts.
Members of Edinburgh council’s South East Locality Committee quizzed a police inspector about measures to combat antisocial cycling in the Capital.
Labour councillor Karen Doran pointed out concerns from West End residents about cyclists travelling on pavements, labelling it “very frightening”.
She said: “We have serious problems with cyclists on pavements.
“We have particular hot spots at the West End where residents feel very unsafe to go out of their houses.
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“I think we have to be very clear that you cannot cycle on the pavement – it’s not acceptable and it’s very frightening for people who live in specific areas that have been blighted by this.”
The Evening News understands police officers will be on patrol both on foot and on bicycles, in an effort to help keep pedestrians safe.
Tactics adopted will include cycle marking schemes and vehicle checks.
Action against offenders, meanwhile, will range from education and advice to charging and reporting to the fiscal for dangerous cycling, or careless and inconsiderate cycling.
Green councillor Claire Miller suggested that cyclists often ride on the pavement due to a lack of infrastructure for those on bikes.
She said: “Typically, cyclists cycle on the pavement because they don’t feel safe on the road. They go up one-way streets the wrong way because they can’t get to where they need to get to.
“I don’t think that people cycle on pavements because they want to be criminalised – they do it because actually being on the road in that place is not safe or not actually convenient for them.”
Responding to the discussion, area commander for south east Edinburgh, Chief Inspector Murray Starkey said there had been collisions involving cycling on pavements in the West End.
He said: “Cyclists should be on the road. There are a lot of them in the city centre because there are a lot of issues with a lot of the roadworks there.
“There’s been a few near misses and unfortunately some accidents with cyclists on the pavements.
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“We have cycle officers that go out and we will do some work with our cyclists and predominantly in the West End at the moment as well as at Haymarket Terrace.”
Transport convener Lesley Macinnes believes it is important that cyclists and motorists feel they are being treated equally.
She said: “As the transport convener I would never condone cycling on the pavements but I do understand and recognise a lot of what Cllr Miller is saying and it’s about providing conditions.
“One of the issues that we’ve got within the active travel community is that there’s a perception that cycling offences are taken slightly more seriously than some of the car problems – for example around parking issues where cycle lanes have been blocked, pavement parking etc.”
She added: “If there was a way in which as a police service you would be able to indicate quite clearly that there is equal weight given to the problems caused by each community to the other, I think that would be very helpful in some form.
“It is about demonstrating a degree of balance in the treatment of those different groups and there is an issue about inconsiderate driving in this city which has to be taken care of publicly.”
Chief Inspector Starkey added: “As a keen cyclist, I know all about inconsiderate parking and driving and also inconsiderate cycling as well.
“We would seek to not favour either side of this business and if there’s an issue, we would deal with that accordingly.”
Views from the streets of the West End
Darren Millar, 40, owner of BLKWRK tattoo studio on Haymarket Terrace said: “You do see cyclists coming along on the pavements really slowly because of all these roadworks on the streets.
“There’s also been people walking past pushing their bikes which is appreciative of pedestrians – it’s the younger generation who don’t give a stuff really.”
Avril Haynes, 78, owner of Deluxe dry cleaners on Haymarket Terrace said: “When the lights change they just get up onto the pavement – I’ve noticed one or two get knocked over up there.”
Surveyor Charles Smith, 69, owns a flat in the West End and said: “I’m a cyclist myself but if they want to use the roads they should have to take a test. They should have a bell as well. I’ve got a bell and I hate it when people go past without one.”
The Evening News caught one 42-year-old cyclist in the act of pavement riding.
He said he had a 14-mile commute and only used the pavement for 100 metres in Haymarket Terrace to avoid roadworks. “When I come along here, the road is in such a shocking condition, I stick to the edge of the pavement and ride at walking pace,” he added.
Craig Paterson, 39, of the Kilt Hire Company, said: “The police have been down here on bikes and caught about nine or ten people in around an hour. They gave them fines on the spot.”
His colleague Lorraine Thomson, 56, said: “I was nearly knocked over. You see them all the time on the way to jobs and on the way back. Some are going quite fast.”
Debra Paton, with nine-year-old daughter Sienna, said: “When the tram lights are on red and the green man is showing, they go on the tram tracks.” Sienna added: “It’s annoying.”
Is it legal?
THE legality of cycling on the pavement is complicated.
Generally, anyone cycling on a footway or footpath in Scotland is committing an offence under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984.
But it is not an offence to cycle across a footway or footpath to access a cycle track, driveway or other land where cycling is allowed.
The issue is complicated by access rights granted to cyclists the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.
The 2003 Act allows cycling on most land unless access is controlled by or under another enactment.
This means that land reform access rights do not normally apply to roads or footways as their use is restricted under various statutes.
However, the 2003 Act does allow cycling on any path where access has not been restricted by a Traffic Regulation Order or through other legal means.
In practice, this allows cyclists to use most paths in urban parks and rural areas.