08 March 2010

Pay a fine or take a Chance in Leics Sq

Cautionary tale from Giles at Southwark Cyclists, who says he was given a £30 fixed penalty notice for 'cycling on the footway' in Leicester Square (right).

Fair enough, it's pedestrianised and there's zero tolerance... except that he was cycling behind a ten-ton lorry at the time. Ah, but you see, explained the PCSOs, the lorry has a special permit.

So what's the logic here? Well, it's obvious: the cyclist is an easy target.

Next time you go to Leicester Square take a Get Out of Jail Free card.


  1. We had a little meet with the Bristol signals people a a couple of weeks ago (details here), and their signals person, who understands signage law, pointed out that the way the bike lane terminated it was not technically illegal to cycle on the pavement of Gloucester Road -just where the police had been ticketing people a while back. Perhaps Leicester square has similar signage issues...someone should research it and then try and ride there again.

  2. But that sort of legal weaseling smacks of the guys who track double yellow lines to show they don't have a proper termination so they can get away with parking like a twat.

    Campaign for the ban on cycling itself to be lifted if you think it is unreasonable, not the legality of the ban on cycling that is in place.

  3. But Leicester Square is not a footway, so whatever the offence was, it can't be "cycling on the footway". The term "footway" is reserved for a pavement alongside a carriageway. Leicester Square is a road (it must be, since lorries with permits are allowed). Cycling in Leicester Square is only an offence if there's a Traffic Regulation Order to prohibit it, which would require "no cycling", "no entry" or "no vehicles" signs. Are there such signs in Leicester Square?

  4. Have to say that if it's clear that cycling is not permitted I don't approve of trying to get out of it even on a technicality. Get off and push, it's hardly going to be much slower in such a busy location anyway.

    I do wish the police would use the right powers for the job though, and concentrate on ticketing people who are actually causing a nuisance. But if you've been caught that's your problem.

  5. @Nigel... I had a look at Leicester Square shortly after your post.

    Two of the roads into the square, Irving St and St Martin's St, are marked No Entry. However, you often see road vehicles going into Irving St, so you could be forgiven some confusion.

    Another two roads, Cranbourn St and Panton St, have bollards and a very large notice saying:
    PEDESTRIAN ZONE. No vehicles Except for loading between 7am-12noon Mon-Sat and for access to Hotel by permitted vehicles

    I asked a PCSO about cycling and he said it was OK before 12 noon but not afterwards, confirming the information on the sign.

    It is possible to come in some ways and not see any signs. If you come in from Piccadilly wheeling your bike across the pavement area of Swiss Court, for instance. You might thus arrive on the roaded area of Leicester Square, see various vans and lorries parked there, and assume you can get on your bike and ride.

    So, the upshot seems to be:
    1. You can cycle Leicester Square Mon-Sat 7am-12noon.
    2. But not otherwise.
    3. There are prominent signs to the above effect, or saying No Entry, on pretty much on every way you might cycle in.
    4. That said, it still seems mean, petty and illogical to nab someone for 'pavement cycling' if they're behind a lorry.

  6. Thanks for the additional info, Rob. It's good to hear that the restrictions are fairly clearly signposted. Sounds like Giles was caught "bang to rights", assuming he wasn't riding there during the permitted hours for cycling.

    However the offence wasn't "cycling on the footway".

    The distinction between "cycling on the footway" and "cycling on a road where cycling is prohibited by TRO" is important because whilst the former doesn't require signs, the latter does.

    Perhaps Real Cycling might like to visit the southern end of Moorfields in the City (just by Moorgate Station). I've mentioned this before. Is cycling allowed here? It's not a footway alongside a road. There are no "no cycling" signs. It's a popular route for cyclists crossing from Coleman Street. And I routinely see City Police stopping cyclists here.

  7. Ah, but if the offence wasn't 'cycling on a footway', can PCSOs issue fixed penalty notices?

    Because, according to my admittedly skimpy internet research, PCSOs can only do this specifically for cycling on a footway, contrary to section 72 of the Highway Act 1835. (See www.opsi.gov.uk.) Nothing else.

    So does that mean PCSOs CANNOT issue fixed penalty notices against cyclists in Leicester Square? Perhaps our friend Giles has a case? Anyone know?

    Like Mike above, I'm not a fan of legal weaselling to loophole rich clients off charges. But I'm not a fan of police harassment of cyclists as a soft target either, especially if cyclists are manifestly not causing trouble to anybody.

    After all, we've seen police trying to arrest cyclists for cycling on cycle paths before now!

  8. I'm not raising these legal issues in order to allow cyclists to avoid penalties for illegal cycling.

    My concern is that the London police may be fining cyclists for riding where it is legal (or whether it is unclear whether it is legal).

    Things are much simpler in Cambridge: if there aren't any restrictive signs, and it's not a pavement alongside a road, you can cycle there. And the police seem to agree.

  9. I got caught a few weeks back just coming out of hyde park - See video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q4OtcjhIDE

    The worst thing about is that a few meters away is a toucan crossing and a shared cycling facility on the pavement. But to get to that you have to cycle the whole length of park lane. If you've already cycled park lane (which is a 40mph 4 lane road) you will have no issues going around the round about at marble arch.
    A kick in the teeth was that you could get off paying the ticket by going to sit in a lorry the next week and looking at the blind spots. Kind of pointless as i know the lorry can't see me in certain positions, so i didn't learn much from it apart from don't get caught cycling on the pavements.

  10. I just got fined £30 by a PCSO for cycling (very slowly!) through Leicester Square, details on the ticket being 'Cycling on the footway', at 9:05am.

    A previous poster noted the following "PEDESTRIAN ZONE. No vehicles Except for loading between 7am-12noon Mon-Sat and for access to Hotel by permitted vehicles" but I wasn't loading or visiting a hotel so I'm not sure how this sign vindicates my actions, as people seem to suggest is the case.

    I expect I will just pay the fine, but yes - it is misleading, their being so many road vehicles in there. Also, I estimate having cycled through there 150 times in the last two years..(!) I am happy to pay the fine but only if the rule I am supposed to have broken is clear. I suggested to the lady that the first stop should not incur a fine and simply go on record then a repeat should incure a fine. I did indeed feel like a very easy target.

    What I find galling is that I see such a huge amount of cyclists flaunt red lights while I (and a number of others) wait patiently for the amber. I've not seen a police type person stop any of them. In fact, I was stopped once for running a red light when in fact it was green. But that's another story!

  11. Hello, Today I also got fined £30 for cycling through Leicester Square at 10.30am.

    Is it worth fighting this through the courts? Was I breaking the law or not?