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Cyclists v Pedestrians in Bristol (OPINION PIECE)

Pedestrians and cyclists mingled together on Bristol’s pavements is not a safe combination.

There have been many articles written by cyclists complaining about inconsiderate drivers but maybe it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

I have recently returned to Bristol after a 30 year absence and have been astonished by the transformation of the city’s infrastructure.

We reluctantly moved from the Gloucestershire countryside to the city centre in a bid to avoid my husband’s gruelling daily commute, the anticipated relaxing stroll to work however, hasn’t really materialised.

Instead I have to be extra vigilant trying to dodge bicycles racing towards me on the pavements in their hi-viz, hi-speed, helmeted way which sends pedestrians scattering in all directions.

Some cyclist’s attitude can be inconsiderate bordering on dangerous with pedestrians made to feel like irritating obstructions in their quest to get from a-to-b as quickly as possible.

Visitors to the city will not be aware that some (but not all) of the pavements are for dual use.  The pavement running alongside Queen Square is a good example, if it’s accessed from the square itself, its not obvious that the road side of the pavement is in fact designated for use by cyclists.

I feel it is only a matter of time before an elderly person or unaware child is seriously injured, or worse.

It is  Bristol City Council’s responsibility to implement clearly marked, designated bicycle routes and to stop cyclists breaking the law by using pedestrian only pavements and footpaths.

All cyclists should be required to take and pass a course similar to the driving test before being allowed to venture onto the roads.  There are clear rules for cyclists printed in the Highway Code that include  – cycling on a pavement (footway) Highways Act 1835 sect 72 as amended by section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888; & Road (Scotland) Act 1984, sect 129

There are government initiative schemes available, such as Bikeability that offer various levels of training.

Level 3. deals with more challenging road and traffic situations and can be run in groups or on a tailored, one-to-one basis.  On completion you will be awarded a green badge which will mean you have gained the following level of competency:

  • Make a trip to work or elsewhere on any roads
  • Use complex junctions and road features such as roundabouts, multi-lane roads and traffic lights
  • Understand driver blind spots
  • Know how (and when) to pass queuing traffic
  • Identify and react to hazardous road surfaces
  • Plan your route
  • Interpret road signs
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