CYCLISTS have reacted angrily to warnings they face fines if caught riding on the pavement around the Crystal Palace Triangle.
Dozens of responses condemning the idea have followed a Tweet from Police Sergeant Diane Hill of the Crystal Palace Triangle Safer Neighbourhoods Team.
She tweeted : "WARNING – We are going to start issuing tickets for cycling on the pavement which will mean £50 fine. Please don't do it and spread the word."
Sgt Hill said the response she had received had surprised her, as the rights of pedestrians seemed to have been forgotten.
She told the Advertiser: "I felt some of the responses on Twitter were inappropriate – one suggested I had the morals of a chimpanzee which I didn't find particularly helpful."
One said: "Great. So clearly rape, child abuse, street violence, FGM and dangerous driving are all sorted then."
Another said: "Shame on you targeting vulnerable road users on some of the most dangerous roads in London"
And: "Please get a sense of perspective. This is not a police priority by any stretch of the imagination."
Sgt Hill said the decision to warn cyclists was a response to concerns raised by the Crystal Palace ward panel, a joint venture between residents and the police.
Elderly people to whom she had spoken had also said they were worried by pavement cyclists.
The issue was first raised by the ward panel in January and since then has been a priority, although so far only one fine has been issued.
The Highway Act states clearly it is an offence to ride or drive on the footpath and offenders are liable to a penalty fine.
The furore against the policy, Sgt Hill said, had only come after she posted her tweet a fortnight ago.
She said problems were caused by cyclists riding on what are narrow pavements in the Triangle and, in particular, those cycling on Westow Hill against the one-way system, rather than going the correct way round on the road.
Sgt Hill added that officers were using their discretion, asking cyclists to move on to the road or push their bike.
She said: "We will continue to use discretion, as I believe this is fundamental to all police work.
"I would rather not have to issue cyclists with a fine for this and my tweet was aimed to act as a deterrent to cyclists who might otherwise think about cycling on the pavements in the area."
She added: "I am a cyclist myself and I fully appreciate the difficulties associated with cycling in and around London, but ultimately pavements are meant for pedestrians and we will continue to ensure this is the case in Crystal Palace."
Community activist and keen cyclist Robert Gibson feels the crackdown is a little over the top.
He said: "I have been cycling around the Triangle a lot recently and I have not noticed a problem with cyclists on the pavement.
"But illegal double parking and congestion make it problematic for cyclists on the roads and will do so until there are proper cycle lanes.
"I don't condone cycling on the pavement but I think there are more important issues the police should be concentrating on."