By Lord Harrison - 8th December 2011
Lord Harrison criticises 'thoughtless' cyclists who ride on pavements and without lights affixed to their bikes.
Recently my wife and I were walking round to our local Chinese restaurant in Chester for an evening meal. On a narrow pavement a young man was advancing fast at us, oblivious that we were not as nimble as he. In the conversation that followed, he told us that he had to ride on the pavement, because as he had no lights on the bike, he would be breaking the law if he rode in the road!
My question in the House of Lords is to gauge the number of pedestrians hurt by thoughtless cyclists riding on the pavement, and how many arrests and convictions have been secured against such anti-social practice. I might equally have asked about the increasing prevalence of cyclists riding in the dark without proper lights affixed to their bikes. Or indeed the accidents resulting from cyclists riding whilst listening to music or their mobile phones in their ears, thereby depriving themselves of the important faculty of hearing so essential for riding safely on our roads. I hope the government will reply to the effect that they will encourage the police and other authorities, like Community Support Officers, to warn and reprimand and if necessary make exemplary arrests of cyclists breaking the law.
I should add that these problems are not just London city centre problems; they are nationwide. Moreover, with 24 cyclist deaths this year in London alone, I am fully committed to support those who are campaigning for better conditions for cyclists in our cities and countryside – a respect that cyclists receive in countries like the Netherlands.
But the bottom line remains: cyclists mustn't break the law as compensation for the thoughtlessness they receive from other road-users. Postscript: we enjoyed our Chinese meal in Hoole in Chester, but returning from another local restaurant, we saw two cyclists riding the same narrow pavement where the first incident happened!
Lyndon Harrisonis a former Member of the European Parliament for Cheshire West (1989-94) and Cheshire West and Wirral (1994-99). He was raised to the peerage in 1999 and sits on the Labour benches.