Cycling on Pavements - Have Your Say!

20 Apr 2015


Thanks to a recent period of good weather, people have really been taking advantage of the sunshine. The community as a whole is walking and cycling more than usual. In the mornings in particular, the number of children cycling around Clontarf has increased massively.

This, however, has raised the issue of whether or not it is acceptable to cycle on footpaths.

Before you comment on this debate, we encourage everyone to consider the facts.

First of all, cycling on pavements is technically illegal for any adult or child. According to Irish law, the age of criminal responsibility is 12. This means that children over the age of 12 could indeed be convicted if they were caught cycling on a pavement. Young children can in theory be reprimanded by Gardai, but not charged. 

Most people would agree that adults cycling on pavements is simply not acceptable. A fully grown adult colliding with a pedestrian at even moderate speed can cause very serious injury. However, when it comes to children on pavements, it’s not as clear cut.

it is understandable why parents would want their children to cycle on footpaths. While there is an excellent cycle path along the Clontarf seafront, it doesn’t allow access to Clontarf’s built up areas, schools, homes and businesses. Certain areas of Clontarf experience high levels of traffic and it is understandable why parents of young children see the pavements as a safer cycling environment.

It is also a good thing for parents to encourage their children to cycle. It is great for their child’s physical health as well as being a greener way to travel that will help the local environment. Therefore, parents should have a reasonable expectation that their children are  able to cycle safely in their local area. 

Yet, this does raise questions about the safety of pedestrians. If children are cycling on footpaths, they risk harming themselves as well as other children and adults. If footpaths are supposed to be bike-free by law, is it fair to ask pedestrians to be cautious of cyclists while walking on them? If children are allowed on paths to cycle, what guidance should parents be giving them in relation to safety and speed?

So, should children be allowed to cycle on the pavement if there is no cycle lane? Try to put yourself in the other person's shoes. It can be easy to support the solution that suits you best, but what’s the reasonable compromise here?  

It’s an interesting question as there are a lot of pros and cons at play, so we want your feedback! Comment below or on our Facebook page