Cyclists vs Pedestrian On The Pavement

Walk this way

If a pedestrian is walking on an unmarked pavement (there are designated bike and pedestrian walkways around) they have right of way, right?

That’s what I thought until we moved to a house closer to our girls school. I started walking a new route to school and not long after we moved I was walking to school to pick up the girls up. It was winter, so naturally I was wearing ear-muffs, then I heard a faint ping sound behind me, I thought nothing of it and carried on walking. Then I heard it again ping, ping, ping-ping. I looked behind me and I got such a fright when I saw a bike right behind me that I almost fell over. I was in shock and shaken by this experience. By the time I got to school that shock had turned into anger. That was so rude and inconsiderate.

I sent a text to my husband who was incensed. “Call the police” he told me straight away. But seriously, what recourse do pedestrians have? A car has a license plate. A bike has no such thing – no way of identifying them.

Sadly that was not the last time, it happens a lot on my walks to and from school. I have become quite accustomed to having to move out the way of rude cyclists pings. Today I had it happened again, with a guy in such a hurry he didn’t even worry about pinging me before nearly hitting me on his speedy journey down the pavement.

It is wonderful that cyclists have the freedom to use the road and drivers should always give way to them, but by a similar reckoning I would like to have the freedom of walking on a pavement without the fear of being scared and confused – possibly injured – by a cyclist driving up behind me.

I look fine but I am easily confused and due to my balance being compromised by nerve damage from MS I am prone to falls. Surely the pavement should be a safe place for pedestrians?

According to, that is exactly a pedestrians right –

Many cyclists are afraid of fast-moving motorised traffic so cycle on footways. While understandable at certain busy intersections and the like, it’s very much against the law. If a certain stretch of road is deemed too dangerous to cycle on, choose an alternative route (via smartphone apps or online journey planners) or walk your bike on the dangerous stretch. If you ride on the footway (‘pavement’ is not the technically correct term, see below), you could cop a fine and you may antagonise pedestrians.

Bicycles are, in law, carriages (as a consequence of the Taylor v Goodwin judgment in 1879) and should be on the road not footway. (Technically speaking, a ‘road’ is a ‘carriageway’).

My husband and I have this argument with my mum all the time. She cycles on the pavement regularly as she feels the road is too dangerous. Fair enough, but the law says you are meant to be on the road. Fellow blogger Lucy Edwards – who runs a successful triathlon blog called paddlepeddlepace, is a passionate cyclist and also felt cyclists belong on the road, not the pavement and had the following to say:

Unfortunately a minority of cyclists give the rest of us a bad name by riding erratically and dangerous. Cycling on footpaths is inconsiderate and a hazard to pedestrians- bikes belong in the road as they are technically a vehicle. There’s no excuse for it.

I have the utmost respect for cyclists especially where it comes to the health and environmental aspect. Please don’t stop cycling, but let us pedestrians have the footpaths as our own.

4 Replies to “Cyclists vs Pedestrian On The Pavement”

  1. I totally agree with you, as well as it being the law there are a myriad of good reasons why pedestrians need vehicle free spaces to walk (and bikes are vehicles!). I have very similar feelings about cyclists who jump red lights in the name of safety…

    1. My sentiments exactly. It’s the last thing you expect as a pedestrian (well, I expect it now I suppose) to have a cycle drive up behind you on the footpath. I have been onto your blog and had a read and it is very impressive. Thanks for the read. 🙂

  2. As a commuting cyclist I agree that cyclists do not belong on pavements unless they are designated as such that both cyclists and pedestrians can use them such as happens in the Green Point area here in Cape Town. The only time I am likely to ride on the pavement is in the area where I work because it is an industrial area. I work in Epping 2 where one has to compete with big trucks and buses, not to mention mini bus taxis. In the morning it is likely that I shall cross the road at the 3-way stop to get on the pavement and cycle there so as to get into the grounds at work because there are no pedestrian crossings for me to utilize closer to work. Having said that, I do take pedestrians feelings into account and slow down considerably behind them. I always ask them politely if I can come past them.

    As for everywhere else, I do cycle on the road which I find preferable. Yes, the traffic can be scary, but I make every effort to use alternative routes where possible. I even cycle on a small stretch of the N1 Freeway, because it feels safer for me to do so, because I am not in a deserted area. Yes, I know it is illegal to do so, but then again I don’t see why I should cycle in a deserted industrial area.

    A disclaimer here. I am specifically referring to the situation here in Cape Town. If I was cycling in any other part of the world I would stick to the rules. I doubt I would feel the need to use the pavement there.

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