We already have a network for slow cyclopolitan cycling – it’s called the pavement (sidewalk). It isn’t ideal but in the interim, it can get us started. Cycling on the pavement (sidewalk) is very normal in Japan and Queensland and both have a thriving cycle culture.
Our rules regarding pavements are inconsistent and impossible to enforce.
- Couriers may legally ride on pavements (sidewalk), while three-year-olds on tricycles are breaking the law
- Official pavement/cycleway designation is arbitrary: just a council a sign post, and occasionally a white line, turns a pavement into a shared path.
- We increasingly have successful shared space streets where all road users share the same space with pedestrian priority.
- Shared pavements already exist for pedestrians and other wheeled transport such as skateboards, scooters and segways, and where the council has decided to place a special ‘shared pavement’ sign.
Once sufficient cycle infrastructure is in place, people will naturally gravitate to dedicated cycle paths, but for now, the pavement (sidewalk) is frequently the only safe option for people who are new to cycling. Many new riders who would benefit from riding on the pavement (sidewalk) don’t because it is illegal – discouraging cycling growth. In the meantime, people who already ride on pavements will continue to do so whether or not it is ‘allowed’.
Street use finds its own happy medium without unenforceable laws, because there is a direct correlation between road vehicle speeds and the number of people on the pavements (sidewalks): Fast cars mean few pedestrians, making those pavements perfect for slow, pedestrian-prioritised cycling. Conversely, roads with high numbers of pedestrians are generally quieter and safer for riding on the road. Confident cyclists such as sports and commuter cyclists will continue to ride on the road for speed.