Councillors call for extra enforcement powers to fine cyclists riding on footpaths in Southend

Councillors are calling for extra enforcement powers to fine cyclists seen riding in pedestrian areas in Southend town centre and on the seafront.

Conservative councillors have said the Covid-19 lockdown has led to a major increase in the number of cyclists in Southend and many are treating the town centre “like a racetrack”.

A motion put forward by Tory councillors Kevin Buck, who represents Prittlewell ward, and David Burzotta, of Chalkwell ward, calls for fixed penalty fines to be brought against any cyclist riding on footpaths or pedestrian areas.

The Tories propose extra enforcement powers are obtained by adding cyclists to the existing Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which already allows the council to fine people £100 for drinking, taking drugs, pitching a tent or littering.

Cllr Buck said: “We have seen a big increase in cycling and what has come with that is anti-social cycling around the town centre. We have had a number of residents complain about cyclists using town centre pedestrian walkways like a racetrack.

“People need to remember that if you get hit by a bike going at 25mph it is almost the same as being hit by a car. There is a lot of momentum and mass behind a determined cyclist travelling at a considerable speed.”

He added that an oversight in the motion sent to council was that it does not specifically say children are not included and this would need to be added if councillors were to support the idea.

The PSPO is currently in force across the town centre and seafront, as well as Southchurch Hall Gardens, Hamlet Court Road and York Road.

However, it is unclear how adding cyclists to the PSPO will make a significant difference to the problem because under UK law it is already illegal for cyclists over the age of 16 to ride on the pavement.

Cyclists can already face on the spot fines of £50 if they are caught.

Independent councillor Ron Woodley, who oversees transport in Southend, said he was open to adding the cyclists to the PSPO but exactly how it would be enforced needs further discussion.

He said: “Cycling on the pavement is illegal already – that is in the Highway Code, so that is one issue here. But we also would need to ensure we have enough council officers to enforce this.

“People should not be cycling on the path and this is why I want to bring speed limits down across the borough to 20mph. That will allow people to cycle safely on the road in residential streets but the Conservatives have said they are against that, so they need to make up their minds.”

Mr Woodley further highlighted that any extra enforcement against cyclists would need to ensure it does not include people under the age of 16, as they are legally allowed to ride on footpaths.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter