An open letter to Guide Dogs

As chair of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, I write to you regarding your #cycleyes campaign, which has been attracting a good deal of media attention recently.

I would like to emphasise that your concerns about cycling on the pavement are our concerns too. Cycling on the pavement suits nobody. It's bad for pedestrians (especially those who are partially sighted, or blind) and it's bad for people cycling too. Few would choose to cycle on a pavement shared with pedestrians if they had a safe and attractive alternative.

Unfortunately, however, cycling on the pavement is increasingly being legalised, either explicitly in the form of footway conversions – to 'shared use' – or implicitly, such as through guidance on Fixed Penalty Notices that states they should not be issued to people cycling on the pavement if they have a legitimate fear of danger on the road.

These policies are, essentially, a fudge that suit nobody, putting people who are walking and cycling into conflict, rather than creating attractive conditions for cycling, separate from footways. If we continue with the status quo we will continue to see people cycling coming into conflict with pedestrians, with more shared use schemes being created, alongside roads that are too hostile or unattractive to cycle on.

To that extent I wondered if you would be interested in endorsing our calls for quality cycling infrastructure, separate and clearly distinct from footways, modelled on best practice from Europe.

In particular, this means cycle tracks on main roads, and the removal of through traffic on residential roads, ensuring that people cycling do not have to share space with motor traffic and creating safer streets for all.

Where these conditions have been fully realised – in countries like the Netherlands – the phenomenon of pavement cycling is non-existent, because people cycling (of any age or ability) have a far more attractive alternative. 

There is a permanent solution to this problem that makes life better for everyone – I hope you are interested in pushing for this solution too.

Please let me know if you are interested in backing our calls for high quality cycling infrastructure.


Mark Treasure