i and other taxpayers pay for this?

Ok- I went to Cambridge the other day and found the Citizens Advice Bureau because I wanted to find out about the UK law as regards unicycling. I was given a printout from here. Although I’m pretty unhappy with the position we as cyclists have as regards not being allowed to ride legally on the pavement, I feel that changing the law to allow me to ride legally on the pavement would be a huge effort.

I had my first encounter with the authorities yesterday (Sunday). It was quiet, and as I saw a police car pull up in a parking bay across the one way street that I was about to cross in order to ride to the store where I work during the week, I thought to myself- as the situation looks safe and I’m doing no one any harm, ‘let me just see how they will respond to my riding on the pavement’. Without dismounting, I rode safely and in a controlled mannner across the road and made towards the store. Two officers stepped out of the car while this happened and once I had crossed and was riding past them, they asked that I didn’t ride on the pavement as is required of them by current UK law. I dismounted and said “ok,” very calmly. However, I did ask them what harm I was doing in riding (safely) on a quiet Sunday. They said something to the effect of “Although you may be riding safely, there cannot be one law for you personally and another for everyone else,” which I agreed with. When they said that unicycles ought to be ridden on the road, I asked whether I might be able to ask a little question. I could see that they were uncomfortable in performing their duty as it was quite preposterous to request that I ride on the road, so I thought I might see whether I might turn the situation to a productive one (for me at least).

They agreed anyway and so I asked them this (or something to this effect): “Being as it is my belief that it may in fact be more dangerous for me- not due to my competence as a rider, but as a result of motorist’s surprise and the relative slowness of my vehicle in comparison to other traffic- to ride on the road: do you (addressing the officers directly) personally, not from a legal standpoint, but personally think that I am justified in holding this point of view, because I’d like to know whether there is any point in trying to get the law modified.”

All of a sudden they said that they were very busy and could not answer the question and they made their way off in a different direction.

I don’t really blame them for feeling so uncomfortable and even though it wouldn’t have taken much time for them to have given a personal response, it would have undermined their professional position and would have taken the time away from the time that they could be spending catching some real miscreants and in fact allocating their time in activities that I would hope my money would go towards financing- paying them to make our country a better and safer place for everyone to enjoy.

Anyhow, to get to the point of this post, i was just wondering whether anyone else had had any brush-ins with the law in the UK or elsewhere worldwide; how you responded to it and whether there was any motion currently in place geared towards modifying current UK legislation and whether anyone knew of ways in which people like me, who basically don’t wish to waste police time, but want to still ride freely can support it.

:sunglasses: :angry: :sunglasses:

Sorry- I know it’s kind of rant-y and dense, but I think there is a point somewhere in this post…:wink: :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

oh, and

i have made the huge effort to change my style, which is total absence of capitalisation, in order to make my post easier on the eye and a little more readable.

but that’s tiring, so don’t expect such a huge effort anytime from me in the near future.:o

I ride past the police all the time, on the pavement, on Muni, trials or Giraffe uni wth no problems. I was stopped once as a joke becasue they were bored and wanted to ask where my lights were, but they admitted to just pulling my leg, one of them remarking as i left “You can ride that thing anywhere”. I get more hassle from university security, who have nothing better to do and not doubt get huge trouble with skateboarders and have no sense of humour. They usually just ask you not to do what your doing, but this is on private property so I suppose they have a right, I’ve never tried pushing the fact that I am a student and therefore have a right to be there, although I may one day.

mmm- i had thought this was the case when i first bought my unicycle along with a book which states: (and i quote) “…your unicycle is not covered at all by the Road Traffic laws and you can probably ride it wherever you like.”

however, according to http://www.unicycle.org.uk/thelaw.html this is not the case, as pointed out to me by the folk at the cambridge CAB.

Yep, it’s illegal to ride a unicycle on the pavement, but if the police were to apply the letter of the law it’s also illegal for small children on bikes, wheelchairs, and mobility scooters.

Apparently the Home Office guidelines to police are to apply the law at their own discretion, and only stop someone if they are causing a danger to others. I.e. if they see an adult cycling at high speed on a crowded pavement they should stop him, but if they see a 3 year old riding a tricycle they should not. Although strictly you were breaking the law, it sounds like these police were bored and looking for someone to moan at.

I agree that the law should be changed, having one law for all kinds of bicycles alone is ridiculous, let alone all the other types of vehicle covered under the current law.

I see the law as fair enough. We ride “pedal cycles” and so should be on the road. With lights and reflectors and all that. There can’t be one rule for cyclists and then another for unicyclists. We want to be treated the same as cyclists (don’t we?), this would only seperate us even more.

When Pebbles and I first started unicycling, we used to ride up the town centre all the time. At first the cops were as surprised as everyone else by us and told us not to ride on the pavement. I said to him “are you seriously telling us to ride these on the road?” (We were on 20’s) He kind of looked at me funny and said “erm, yes.”, you could tell that he knew that it was daft, even though it is the law. We replied with “we’ll just push them…'til you’re out of sight.”

A few times after that they told us to get off and said we were dangerous, we told them we can control the unicycles and will not hurt anyone other than ourselves on them, and walked…'til they were out of sight.

Now they only tell us to get off it’s really busy with people, which is fair enough. But if it’ a quiet night up town they don’t bother us. Like you say, there’s folk doing much worse stuff they could(should) be chasing.

I don’t think you’ll ever get the law changed, I reckon you’ll just have to see if the cops (hopefully) suss out that you are safe on your wheel and leave you be. Like domesticated ape said, they’ve gotta “apply the law at their own discretion, and only stop someone if they are causing a danger to others” I think your cop needs to realise that you aren’t causing a danger, which in time he should. Everyones first reaction to seeing a unicycle on the pavement is that you are totally out of control and about to hit them.

Good luck.


P.S Who’d have thought that the cops would be (reasonably) cool in Glasgow?

I have in fact had a few brush-ins with the law, albeit in the Netherlands. I’ve so far been stopped twice by police because I was riding on the pavement. The first time I was quite surprised, because I was riding on my 20" trials uni, and I was obviously well capable of steering through the (very thin) crowd. They asked me to not cycle here, and I happily obliged. The next time however, I came prepared, having emailed the ministry and the dutch organisation for traffic safety and gotten similar replies, both saying I was under pedestrian law. I showed them the emails, and though they were both not too happy about me being such a smart-ass (visibily, not orally), they let me unicycle on through.

The problem with categorizing a unicycle is that they’re so widespread in their application. The problem arises pretty much with ‘weird’ b*kes too, such as trialbikes or BMXes. 20" trialbikes should ride on pavement, having about the same speed as a 20" unicycle. Whereas a racing cycle obviously SHOULDN’T ride on pavement. Same thing with cokers and trial-unis. They may have the same design, they’re a world of difference in application, speed and manoeverability.

Just ride with David Stone, he’ll yell at the cops until they leave :slight_smile:


we are all cyclists by literal definition. however, the type of unicycle that i ride and the kind of riding that i practise (street/freestyle) makes what i do more akin to say skateboarding or skating.

i welcome the distinction between unicyclists and bicyclists- as it helps to define exactly what it is that we do. i agree that we want to be treated as cyclists as opposed to scum, and human beings as opposed to lesser life forms, but i am a unicyclist and i ride a unicycle, not a road b*ke. to be more specific, there may be certain forms of unicycle that are safer to ride on the road than others. For example, if i had a 36" geared uni, i wouldn’t see the need to ride it in a highly pedestrianised area- it’s not designed with that specifically in mind. however, if i and it were properly equipped, i would feel safer riding that on a road than i would riding a skateboard on a road in moving traffic even though i don’t argue that it can’t be done.

so am I arguing that unicycles should be banished to the road, the skatepark, the trail and the gym hall?

well it is my opinion that it is fair for unicyclists to enjoy the pavement and other urban features which constitute the concretised environment in which many of us live, so long as a certain decorum is maintained- including, but not necessarily limited to:

  • not obstructing other pavement users
  • not intimidating other pavement users
  • abstention from unreasonable destruction of public property
  • not riding in a way that unnecessarily endangers other people's health/safety

if we are to view the street as a resource, just as we view the natural environment as one, then surely to deprive people of the use of the street is comparable to (at the most extreme) depriving the climber of his right to clamber over rocks, the rambler or hill walker of his right to roam slopes, the kite enthusiast the right to use air.

of course there are places that are too dangerous to practise some of these activities, both for participant and those about them.

for example, it is unsafe for a kite to be flown near a road or close to power cables, as it is to walk over railway lines where a crossing has not been provided, or abseiling from a bridge to the middle of a busy motorway; just as it is inadviseable or very silly if not downright stupid to ride in the middle of a busy international airport or in, say for example the central london underground at rush hour. sure there may be rideable places there, but why unnecessarily endanger so many othe people’s lives?

i don’t think riding an empty street and maybe hopping onto an empty concrete bench on a sunday qualifies for dangerous riding (i didnt bench-hop in front of the law) and i think the law should reflect that so that valuable police time and resources can be spent on tackling, say, gun crime or domestic violence or theft or something like that.:slight_smile:

I’ve been commuting in central London for some months now, and have never had a problem with the police. Ok, so most of the time I am on the road, but some times it’s just quicker/safer/easier to take to the pavement, but even then I’ve not been stopped by the police.

A few weeks ago, however, a bunch of us were doing trials riding just on the North side of the Thames. A couple of policemen did ask us to move on, and explained that the laws in the City of London are subtly different to the rest of London, and that almost everything is illegal there.

In the last year or so, there has been a big clampdown in the UK with regard to using a mobile phone whilst driving if it’s not ‘hands free’. Around Xmas time I was riding past some slow traffic, and chatting on my mobile when I undertook a police car. I was a bit unsure how they would react though, as it could be argued that you don’t need a hands free kit on a vehicle that doesn’t require you to use your hands… but sadly they ignored me. Pity really, as I would have been interested to know their stance on that point.


Re: i and other taxpayers pay for this?

On Mon, 1 May 2006, domesticated ape <> wrote:
> Yep, it’s illegal to ride a unicycle on the pavement, but if the police
> were to apply the letter of the law it’s also illegal
> for small children on bikes,


> wheelchairs,

Not true (nor is it true that you can’t push a pram / shopping trolley
/ sack barrow on the pavement).

> and mobility scooters.

Not true - class 2 vehicles are intended to be ridden on
the pavement only, and class 3 vehicles are intended to be ridden on
either the pavement or in the road (with different rules depending
upon where you are). The next highway code will have a new section
specifically for these (at least, is very likely to - it’s currently
in draft, and the consultative draft has such a section).

FWIW, I’ve never been spoken to by the police when riding my unicycle
on the pavement, even when I’ve ridden past them.

regards, Ian SMith

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Re: i and other taxpayers pay for this?

On Mon, 1 May, semach.the.monkey <> wrote:
> In the last year or so, there has been a big clampdown in the UK with
> regard to using a mobile phone whilst driving if it’s not ‘hands free’.
> Around Xmas time I was riding past some slow traffic, and chatting on
> my mobile when I undertook a police car. I was a bit unsure how they
> would react though, as it could be argued that you don’t need a hands
> free kit on a vehicle that doesn’t require you to use your hands… but
> sadly they ignored me. Pity really, as I would have been interested to
> know their stance on that point.

It’s not illegal to use a mobile phone when cycling.

The relevant bit of law is The Road Vehicles (Construction and
Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003, which is statutory
instrument 2003 No 2695, and can be read here:

Regulation 110 says:
“No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is using a
hand-held mobile telephone;”

So as long as your unicycle is not motorised, it’s legal to use the
phone while riding it. May or may not be sensible, but it’s legal.

regards, Ian SMith

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I’ve ridden everything from a freestyle unicycle to a coker round loads of towns in the UK including Cambridge. Loads in Cambridge, cos that’s where I was living when I learnt to ride. Including some pavement riding on main roads.

Basically the rule with the police in almost all cases has been that if you don’t completely take the piss or act like a twat, you can get away with most things. I’d put deliberately causing an argument with the police well into the taking the piss category though.

If you don’t have arguments with the police, then you rarely get into a situation where they’re hassling you. Having arguments with the police is just a way to make them hassle you and other unicyclists.

There’s a real problem with what you’re saying to them too, you’re saying that your vehicle is inherently unsafe in traffic, which means that they have a great reason to stop any person they see riding a unicycle in traffic and hassle them to ride on the pavement. Whilst you may lack the skills to unicycle on roads, other people do have these skills, and use them to get around. Going around causing hassles with the police and telling them that you’re too dangerous to ride on the road is just causing hassles for those riders. In the worst case you’d get the law changed so that unicyclists were meant to ride on the pavement (as inevitably would be the case if there was a law change, they’re not going to want to waste taxpayer’s money teaching the police about unicycle specifications), and bang goes the fun for anyone who chooses to road ride on their unicycles.

Even without the law change, police are now more likely to hassle people in Cambridge. I used to ride on roads round the Cambridge area on a 24" freestyle unicycle, and I know there are other riders there who do similar, who would probably be pissed off if they get stopped from doing it.

The magic of the current situation is that we’re a grey area. This means we can get away with so much more than skateboards, bikes, blades and any other thing people ride round town on. If we don’t take the piss, we can ride on road without being stopped (as skater and bladers often are), on pavement without hassle, often even in areas with big signs saying no skating etc.


ps. Spence (presuming that’s you) - I think there’s still no law against using a mobile on a bike, Boris Johnson is very proud of this for some reason.

Well i once had a police man tell me to get off the road… although i was riding backwards on the wrong side of the road haha

please pay attention to detail when you read my posts.

i wanted to ride to argos in letchworth, where i live. i work at argos. it just so happened that the police drove up the road i planned to ride down (since my shop was on it). It was a very quiet sunday afternoon.

had i gone out of my way to attract their attention, i would call that deliberately causing an argument.

also, had you paid a little more attention to my post, you would have noticed that i didn’t argue with them- i complied with their request immediately and my demeanor was extremely polite (i asked if i could ask a perfectly reasonable question and didn’t begin until i had their assent (which was freely given)).

“…not due to my competence as a rider, but as a result of motorist’s surprise and the relative slowness of my vehicle in comparison to other traffic-”

i was not riding a 36 incher and so my vehicle is bound to be slower the smaller my wheel gets, providing the cycle is not geared. Did You Simply Happen To Miss The Underlined Extract From My Original Post Above?

i can ride and i find it a little insulting and irritating that someone who evidently doesn’t utilise their skill at reading as much as they could should criticise me as you have, joe.

that being said, i don’t dislike you yet, i just dislike the tone of your post and your posting without reading (are you prejudging me based on my age?).


i would like to apologise joe, before this gets out of hand. i can see how easy it is to jump to conclusions and i shouldn’t have been so offended and try to come back at you- that was very childish.



i should have written ’ motorists’ ’ in the original post. i ought to learn to write better.

police have no problem here in Rowlett…me and Matt ride in parking lots, and across major roads all the time, and cops just watch us and laugh

I have always had a police experiances, my dad… But as I read this thread I decided to go out, I left my house road 2 mins up the road and I saw a police car. I obviously thought of this thread and then the two policemen slowed right down. I was a bit apprehensive at this point, but one said he used to do it and they talked to me. They started to accelerate and I called the one who said he could ride and asked if he wanted a go.

The guy quickly hopped out and fell off… He then tried again and again and then rode 3 revs. He was obviously rushing so I let him carry on with his work, he was extremely nice and fell off a few times.