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There are an increasing number of cyclists in the United Kingdom. This is because bicycles provide economic, ecological and environmental benefits over other forms of transport. Bicycles are used for travelling to and from work, for recreational use and even for delivery purposes.
Many cyclists are afraid of vehicular traffic, so choose to cycle on the footpaths. This is against the law. Bicycles, by law, are defined as carriages and, as such, must be ridden on the road. Since 1999, cycling on the pavement is punishable by a fixed penalty notice of £30. The fixed penalty only applies to footpaths running alongside a road. It does not apply to country footpaths, parks or car parks where there is no road. Looking at the strict interpretation of the law, a young child riding a tricycle on a footpath is illegal. A fixed penalty notice however cannot be given to anyone under the age of 16. In 1999 the Home Office issued a guideline stating that a fixed penalty notice should only be served on a cyclist riding in a manner that may endanger others. In the most severe cases, instead of issuing a fixed penalty notice, a court summons may be presented. The court has the power to impose a fine of up to £500.
As it is illegal to cycle on footpaths, if a road is considered too dangerous, then choose an alternative route or push the bike on the pavement across the dangerous area. It is understandable that cyclists may be afraid of more powerful vehicles travelling quickly in congested areas. Motorists who take it upon themselves to push cyclists off the road are committing criminal assault. Many motorists do assist cyclists and give them plenty of room. It is just the minority who make things difficult.
To help cyclists feel more at ease, busy areas now have cycle lanes. These define areas for cyclists at the side of the road, keeping them away from motorists and not on the pavement upsetting walkers. Low-speed roads in residential and commuter areas assist in making cyclists feel more comfortable. Potholes and road defects are a danger to cyclists and should be reported to the Local Authority for them to repair the roads.
Teaching effective cycling in schools reduces the risk of injuries and enables the cyclist to be proficient. Children understanding road safety and the Highway Code at a young age will also create safer motorists in the future. It is important that cyclists show respect by following the laws of the road. This includes not jumping a red light or cycling the wrong way down a one way street.
Cyclists are very vulnerable as they do not have the protection of being inside a vehicle. For their own safety, cyclists should wear a helmet in case they have an accident. A cyclist should also ensure that they are well seen at all times by wearing reflective clothing.
Cycling is intended to be a fun activity. There are many bike events occurring all over the country for on road and off road competitions.