Cyclists risk £30 fines as police mount patrols on Leicester's New Walk
Police are clamping down on rogue cyclists who use a pedestrian route as a cut-through.
Officers have handed out 71 fines to bike riders this year – four times the number given in 2009.
They say the campaign, which was launched after a rise in the number of complaints from residents and local businesses, has reduced the number using New Walk as a cycle route.
The Mercury counted only eight cyclists, during two half-hour periods, riding along the pedestrian walkway this week.
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Shopper Catherine Isherwood, 28, from the West End, said: "I've not had a run-in with a cyclist before, but I can see how they can be a nuisance.
"If they know they're not allowed to ride along here then they shouldn't do it – they'd be the first to complain if I was walking along a cycle path."
Riders could face a £30 fine if they fail to obey signs prohibiting pedal power on the walkway, which has been a vehicle-free zone since 1785.
Sergeant Nicola Woods admitted that the route was convenient but said prosecutions would continue.
She said: "I know that the alternative route along London Road is not ideal, but we have stepped up patrols along New Walk in response to a lot of residents complaining.
"We will continue to deal with cycling there and, if appropriate, give out tickets, until a more permanent solution can be found."
Many cyclists say there is no alternative safe route along London Road.
Last week, the Mercury reported that a city council panel dealing with inner city cycling improvements was inundated with requests for better routes – many calling for New Walk to be a bike route.
Reiza Khan, 44, from the West End, admitted using New Walk when cycling to work in Highfields, but says he, and other cyclists, take pedestrians into consideration.
He said: "I think the dangers from cars to cyclists on London Road far outweigh the dangers of cyclists to pedestrians on New Walk.
"If the council are worried about people flying down New Walk, they shouldn't be.
"It's impossible to go fast down here in the morning and most of the cyclists don't speed."
A 22-year-old student cyclist, who lives in the city centre, said: "I'm amazed to find that the police are more readily dishing out fines to cyclists on New Walk.
"I appreciate New Walk's unique character, but I fail to see how me cycling, slowly, up the hill puts anyone in danger.
"Leicester may pride itself on being green, but the fact of the matter is that many cycle lanes are shared with double-decker buses or simply stop at a bollard.
"New Walk is big enough for the both of us. I've been verbally abused by a pedestrian who stood in my way on New Walk, caused me to swerve and shouted abuse at me – I'd like to fine her."
Another bike rider, who the Mercury caught cycling along New Walk, said: "There are no signs up to say that it's a £30 fine, but if that is the case I might think twice about cycling down here in the future."