Council’s safety team to begin fining cyclists caught riding on Southend pavements

Southend’s community safety officers will have the power to fine cyclists and people on electric scooters if they are caught riding on footpaths anywhere in the borough.

The council’s cabinet agreed to take a strong stance against careless cyclists and users of electric scooters during a meeting on Tuesday where they discussed how an increase in cycling in the wake of Covid-19 has left many pedestrians feeling unsafe.

Cabinet members said they wanted the fines to be levelled at anyone caught riding on the pavement anywhere in Southend, despite an initial proposal for fines made by the Conservative Group which focussed only on the High Street and seafront.

The only people exempt will be children under the age of 16.

Councillor Trevor Harp (Ind) said: “A big part of my post bag is related to people absolutely abhorring cycling on pavements across the borough so making this borough-wide is a welcome change.

“I fully applaud that we are making all our pavements safe rather than concentrating on the high street and seafront.”

A report published ahead of the meeting said that in the last two or three months there has been a spike in collisions between pedestrians and cyclists and the majority have occurred on footpaths.

The council’s Community Safety Unit and Essex Police have also seen a growing number of complaints about dangerous cycling.

On busy days these reports “are almost daily to officers on patrol”.

Under UK law it is already illegal for cyclists over the age of 16 to ride on the pavement and those caught doing it can face on the spot fines of £50.

Cllr Carole Mulroney (Lib Dem) said cycling on pavements has been particularly problematic in Old Leigh where cyclists have been seen riding on narrow footpaths.

She said: “I am pleased this is pan-borough in Old Leigh we have lots of residential streets where pavements are narrow so I think it’s a good thing and this will resonate with residents.

“Over the course of pandemic, a big part of the complaints I’ve seen have been people saying yes we need more people cycling but why can’t they do it more carefully.”

There has been a major surge in people buying bicycles since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, with Halfords revealing at the beginning of the month that bike sales nationwide had risen 57.1 per cent since April. Meanwhile, sales linked to cars dropped 6.5 per cent.

On Wednesday, the Government also launched a new “fix your bike” scheme, offering 50,000 vouchers worth £50 for bike repairs. It proved so popular that the website offering the vouchers crashed just hours after it was launched.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter