Wednesday 20th May 2020
On the evening of Sunday past some 5000 cyclists should have been basking in the glory of having completed the 85 miles of Perthshire’s most stunning scenery in what is the country’s leading closed road sportive, the Etape Caledonia. This event is normally a boon to the local economy and events like this encourage people of all ages, shapes and sizes to become more active and take up cycling for either fun or as exercise.
And it is clear that the lockdown has resulted in many more people, some of whom have possibly not cycled for some time, squeezing into ill-fitting Lycra, dusting off their old bikes or investing in new machines to take advantage of the quieter roads and good weather.
Research from Cycling Scotland shows a large increase in the number of people cycling and this is likely to continue as people continue to adhere to social distancing rules and avoid public transport.
But whilst the Etape Caledonia riders benefit from the safety and security of having a closed road circuit that is not the norm for all journeys and we all must be aware of what we can do as pedestrians, cyclists and drivers to ensure our highways remain safe for all road users.
So it seems prudent to remind all road users of their responsibilities when it comes to using public roads. Last year Police Scotland joined up with Cycling Scotland for a campaign to raise awareness of the legal requirement for drivers to leave a car’s width of space when passing a cyclist. Driving too close when passing a cyclist is an example of careless driving which attracts a minimum fine of £100 and three penalty points.
Highway Code Rule 64 states ‘you must not cycle on a pavement.’ Generally anyone cycling on a footway or footpath in Scotland is committing an offence under Section 129(5) of The Roads (Scotland) Act 1984. It is however not an offence to cycle across a footway or footpath to access a cycle track, driveway or other land where cycling is allowed.
And whilst it is perfectly legal for cyclists to ride beside each other or in the middle of the road we all need to respect each other and I would hope that all road users would follow the letter of the law and the spirit in which it is intended to ensure that everyone can use our roads safely and without hindrance.
In a couple of weeks time we will begin the slow process of leaving lockdown which will undoubtedly result in a marked increase in traffic on both urban and rural roads. I hope that we can all continue to show the tolerance and community spirit on the roads which I have witnessed in communities right across the country over the past 8 weeks.