CYCLING on pavements in Stratford-upon-Avon has divided opinion in the town. Never before has one issue caused such controversy and stirred such vigorous debate.
The whole subject is rapidly becoming a hot political potato. An in-depth investigation, into what appeared to be a straightforward discussion about the legal implications of cycling on pavements, is available on the front page of this week's paper.
It has unearthed a whole range of deeper social issues relating to the debate. Issues which include, intimidation, hostility, socially unacceptable behaviour, human rights, road safety, motoring and the environment.
The Herald has talked with people who call themselves responsible cyclists and who ride on the town’s pavements. They say they’re too scared to use the roads which they describe as dangerous and frightening places to be. They also don’t see why the lives of their children should be put at risk by cycling on Stratford’s busy roads.
But some pedstrians in the town oppose this reasoning. They say cyclists shouldn’t even be on the pavements in the first place because they’re breaking the law. and they fear it’s only a matter of time before a pedestrian, resident or possibly even a tourist is seriously injured - perhaps fatally - as a result of a bike crashing into them.
Embedded within the debate there’s also the fundamental question about individual freedom. Both parties say they choose to live and work in Stratford because of its charisma and its history, but our investigation reveals that the town is not alone when confronting this thorny issue. According to one motoring organisation - The Automobile Association - selfish pavement cycling is widespread across the country and on the increase.
Talk of the whole situation spiralling out of control is perhaps premature but what the Herald investigation clearly shows is the debate is ongoing, can be discussed from several intelligent viewpoints, has effectively split public opinion and is undeniably heating up.
See this week's Stratford Herald for the full story!
Tony Jefferson is a keen campaigner on pedestrian safety.
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