Cyclists will not be fined for pavement riding, police will focus on drivers instead
And instead of punishing cyclists, police will spend their time investigating their feelings – questioning why they felt the need to leave the road.
The move, which will infuriate pedestrians forced to dodge speeding bikers, has been hailed by safety campaigners as “innovative”.
Police in the area will carry out undercover ‘close pass’ operations, where plain clothes officers on bikes will target drivers who fail to leave a 5ft gap when overtaking.
Officers hope the new measures will help identify danger hotspots, where cyclists are practically forced onto footpaths.
But critics accuse the police of playing favourites.
Horse racing pundit John McCririck lives in Camden, north London, where the scheme is being trialled, said: “If you break the law it should be enforced and the police should at least tell the miscreants they are breaking the law and there are consequences if they go on doing it.
Cycling on a footpath has been illegal in England and Wales since 1835
It’s about using common sense and discretion
Sgt Nick Clarke
“And if it’s a repeat offence, there is a penalty to be paid.”
His sentiment is echoed by Dr Rachel Lee, of Living Streets – a charity which focuses on pedestrians.
She said: “Most cyclists prefer to use the road, but a small minority continue to ride on the pavement for reasons of convenience or safety.
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Horse racing pundit John McCririck feels the police is siding with cyclists
“This can make pedestrians feel vulnerable – especially those who are visually impaired, suffer hearing loss or have mobility issues.
“‘We want better enforcement of the law.”
Cycling on a footpath has been illegal in England and Wales since the introduction of the 1835 Highways Act and carries a £50 fine.
However, the National Police Chief’s Council said enforcing the penalty is ‘a local issue’ and depends on the ‘challenges’ each force faces.
The initiative is being trialled in Camden – one of the country’s most popular areas for cyclists – and follows a similar operation in the West Midlands last year.
According to Sgt Nick Clarke, cyclists will only be fined if their pavement use impacted pedestrians or forced them to leap out of the way.
He said: “Riding on the pavement is technically illegal, just like being drunk in a pub is technically illegal. But we don’t enforce it unless we have good reason.
Cycling on the pavement currently carried a £50 spot fine
“It’s about using common sense and discretion.
“It’s not the scourge of Camden, but if it is happening, we have to look at why.
“Why are people choosing to ride on the pavement? Then we have to resolve that, so all vulnerable road users are safe.”
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While some will be “offered advice”, others could be directed towards their nearest ‘Bikeability’ course, especially if they are new to the roads or need a confidence boost.
Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine, a regular cyclist on London’s busy roads, has welcomed the changes, labelling Sgt Clarke “2017’s Met Officer of the Year (so far)”.
The changes come after the London mayor Sadiq Khan announced measures to make the capital’s roads safer for cyclists.