Cycling Offences – Cycling on the Pavement and other Pedestrianised Areas

Cycling Offences – Cycling on the Pavement and other Pedestrianised Areas




Under the Highways Act 1835 s.72 (as amended by s. 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888), cyclists must not cycle on a footway (pavement) and must  keep to the cyclists’ side of a segregated cycle track. The maximum penalty for cycling on the pavement is a £500 fine however, in most cases, the police will issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (On-the-Spot Fine) of £50.[1] The maximum would only ever be imposed if the Fixed Penalty Notice is contested and taken to court.

The most recent data available shows that the total number of fines issued for pavement cycling has reduced from 2,196 in 2003 to 1,644 in 2007. Although there is not much recent data available, Donnachadh McCarthy, spokesman for Stop Killing Cyclists, has recently expressed his belief that police officers have been targeting cyclists and issuing fines every time they have been spotted on the pavement.[2] He claims that in one instance a cyclist was fined for riding one of London’s  ‘Boris Bikes’ the short distance from the docking station to the road.

It is important to remember  that fixed penalty notices  should not be issued to responsible cyclists who on occasion feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic and show consideration to other pavement users when doing so.[3] This advice was re-issued to the police force in 2014 and was endorsed by the cycling minister Robert Goodwill.[4]

Parents who are concerned about their children cycling on the pavement should not worry because Fixed Penalty Notices cannot be issued to children under the age of 10 years old. Moreover,  the police are meant to use their discretion so that,  unless a child over the age of 10 years old is putting pedestrians at risk, it is the police force’s policy (rather than the law) to not issue Fixed Penalty Notices to children under the age of 16 years old.

In determining the law in this area, an important distinction to highlight is the difference between footways and footpaths. A footway is what is commonly referred to as the pavement (although they are not always paved) which runs alongside a carriageway or road whilst a footpath is situated away from the road, often between buildings or in the countryside. Cycling on a footpath generally only constitutes a trespass against the landowner which is a civil rather than a criminal matter. This means that the police cannot take any enforcement action which includes the issuance of a Fixed Penalty Notice.  It is important to note however, that local authorities can make it a criminal offence to cycle on a footpath by means of a bylaw or traffic regulation order under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

Similarly, local bylaws can make cycling in pedestrianised zones or vehicle restricted areas, such as shopping precincts, a criminal offence and consequently enforceable by the police and punishable with a Fixed Penalty Notice.  Not all Traffic Regulation Orders prohibiting the entry of vehicles to areas such as shopping streets prohibit cycling but, when they do, they must be observed.

It is generally considered that pushing a cycle in areas where cycling is prohibited is legal. There is no hard law which explicitly expresses this but the general view is taken from the judgement of Lord Justice Waller in the case of Crank v Brooks [1980] RTR 441, where he stated that,

“[The cyclist]… on her feet and not on the bicycle, and going across pushing the bicycle with both feet on the ground so to speak is clearly a ‘foot passenger’. If for example she had been using it as a scooter by having one foot on the pedal and pushing herself along, she would not have been a ‘foot passenger’. But the fact that she had the bicycle in her hand and was walking does not create any difference from a case where she is walking without a bicycle in her hand.

Without the interference of parliament by introducing legislation which explicitly prohibits the pushing of cycles where cycling is prohibited it is unlikely that such an activity would be found to be illegal.

On the whole, cycling on a pavement or footway is unlawful. However, the police are advised to, and should, exercise discretion when issuing Fixed Penalty Notices for the offence. In particular, it is emphasised that a distinction should be drawn between cyclists whose behaviour endangers pedestrians and those who act out of concern for their own safety without being a threat to others.

[1] The National Cycling Charity, ‘Cyclists’ behaviour and the law’ (January 2014), 7

[2] Nick Collins ‘Let cyclists go on pavements if roads are dangerous, minister tells police’ The Telegraph (17th January 2014). Available at: <> accessed March 2014

[3] Paul Boateng MP (Home Office) to Ben Bradshaw MP (9th July 1999)

[4] Chris Peck, ‘Goodwill reiterates footway cycling guidance’ (17th January 2014). Available at: <> accessed March 2014.