Understanding Cycling on Pavements

The Irish law is very clear when it comes to Pavements – it is illegal to cycle or drive along the pavement, with the only exception being to cross the pavement to access a driveway.

However, the issues surrounding cycling on the pavement stretch beyond the letter of the law, and often evoke very strong emotions on both sides.

Many cyclists state that cycling on the pavement is more a reflection of the state of the nation’s roads, rather than being a wilful act of law-breaking. They are reacting to the perceived or actual threat coming from motorists on the road, and feel that cycling on the pavement is the only way to stay safe.

In contrast, some pedestrians can feel very intimidated by bikes on the pavement, especially if they are travelling at speed – and fear that reckless cyclists could cause injuries to pedestrians.

In my opinion both of these viewpoints are equally valid. As someone who regularly walks, cycles and drives around the city, I can empathise with all the fears expressed. And the obvious answer to me is a decent investment in good-quality segregated cycle lanes, such as are common in places such as Denmark. I would also advocate the more strict enforcement of road traffic laws for all road users, because if motorists behaved more safely and with consideration for others, then cyclists wouldn’t be so scared to share the roads.

And in the mean time, we might also like to consider the position of small children on bikes. At the moment the law makes no concession for them to cycle on the pavement, and we should maybe also consider introducing this into legislation.

The alternative view of cycling on the pavement
The alternative view of cycling on the pavement

Richard Bloomfield

Richard is the founder of Dublin Bike Blog. He commutes to work every day by bike, come rain or shine, on his Dutch city bike. You can read more from Richard on his blog richardbloomfield.ie.

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