police stepping it up?

Just googled a little and there is news about a guy next to my home town being given a police order for standing around.


That’s almost certainly not the whole story. It never is.

The fact that he is refered to as a “stunt unicyclist” even though stunts do not appear in the narrative shows that the journalist was trying to make bricks without straw - during a clay shortage.

It does sound like heavy-handed policing. On the other hand, the police officer’s first reponsibility is to protect the public as a whole. The problem with cyclists in pedestrian areas is a serious one. It is dangerous for old people and children. The police officer may well have felt that the argument for an appearance of consistency was more convincing than the bar-room lawyer’s argument that a person riding on a unicycle is a pedestrian because a unicycle has no brakes.

As unicyclists, we no doubt all feel some tribal loyalty to this particular rider, and it may well be that he was doing nothing inherently dangerous. However, I think he was unwise to try to be clever about legal definitions. At least he got some free publicity for his charity ride.

There is another thread somewhere about this - actually it may be in JJuggle’s thread. I’ve met Pete a few times and always found him a quiet and unassuming person. I can’t imagine him deliberately causing trouble. He’s MrBoogiejuice’s mate.


Just to clear things up a little. My understanding of what happened was that Pete was just riding, and definitely was not doing anything dangerous.

I don’t think he was trying to be clever, he was just saying why he thought unicycling was allowed on pavements and didn’t quote any laws, just an assumption that we all make that unicycling on pavements is legal.

Being a smart-arse law student I feel the need to be clever about legal definitions (come on, it’s all we can do:p )

Unicycling on pavements is legal. The liberal theory of the state that underpins all British (and non-dictatorial for that matter) legal thinking and lawmaking is essentially that outside of the law we are free (J.S. Mill etc)
Since unicycling on pavements is not prohibited by law as biking is, Pete was well within his rights. Any attempt by the police to stop him is an abuse of their power since they can’t just go around making the law up as they see fit. I know he wasn’t prosecuted but that’s beside the point, the officer had no right to stop him and issue that form.

Personally I think what the policeman did was disgusting :angry: , and if he thought it was dangerous he could have asked politely and Pete would have obliged. There was no need for what he did and I think people need to stand up to the police if and when they try things like this for our own sake. It’s just not safe to unicycle on roads all of the time apart from anything else.


When riding on pavements I keep a clear distance from any pedestrians. The distance is larger than that at which I know I can guarantee the pedestrians safety. I will stop, lean against a lamp post and wave them past at times. This shows Mr. policeman that I am considering the safety angle. The better the unicyclist the closer the distance at which he is safe. But the pedestrian and the policeman do not know that.
I suspect this was more a “Stop what you are doing because I judge that the public might be in danger” rather than " Unicycling is a danger to the public and therefore you must stop it."

I wonder whether telling the newspaper about the lack of brakes was a good idea? :wink:


Your household insurance pokicy no doubt refers to pedal cycles, rather than bicycles. If your unicycle was stolen, would you claim under that section? I think you would.

On that basis, if a sign or law says no cycling, then the same logic should apply.

If a police officer feels, rightly or wrongly, that someone’s actions may be dangerous, or intimidating to ordinary members of the public, then the police officer has a duty to deal with the situation to reduce the eprceived risk. He or she can only act on the strength of experience and training. There are cases every day which fall into legal grey areas, or where a literal interpretation of the law is unreasonable or impractical.

I am not saying the unicyclist was wrong to be unicycling here, or that he was riding dangerously. I accept the opinions of those who say he wasn’t. I do not agree with his interpetation of the law, but that is open to reasonable debate and quoting of statute and case law and so on. I do think he was unwise to approach the situation in this way.

“I’m sorry officer. I didn’t realise it wasn’t allowed here,” may well have led to a mild chiding, followed by a more friendly conversation, followed by the copper making a generous concession to let him ride after all.

As a motorist, motorcyclist, and cyclist, the respectful “sorry officer” approach has worked for me on every occasion except once. (And that was at a place notorious for coppers stopping bikers, on a very wet day when I was the only biker for miles, and the policeman’s lot was a particularly unhappy one.)

As soon as you tell a copper he is in the wrong, you have forced him to prove that he is right - regardless of the facts. There is a simple Freudian explanation that would be obvious if you were to see a police officer in the shower.

Stopper riding to school

Years ago(like 32) I was riding to school on my Uni and a police officer pulled me over for alledgedly running a red light. After a friendly conversation, he let me go saying “It is just as well as I did not know whether to write you up as a pedestrian or vehicle.” By the way, I did not run the light.

apparently you’re not allowed to ride bikes on the pavement but if the police ever stop me on my uni then my plan is to say, tell you what if you can ride it then i’ll let you stop me but if you can’t then i’m going to carry on, (this is probably going to end up with the poilce being called Sergant Holm then i’m buggered!)

But how can they claim that you’re not allowed to cycle on the pavement when at least half of the cycle paths round here are on the pavement.


I’m surprised no-one’s posted this yet:)

Whilst I would be the first to agree with the others in this thread(not to mention common sense) that the obvious place to ride a 20" unicycle is on the pavement, under the law a unicycle is counted as a pedal cycle and as such subject to all the cycling laws. And to be honest, If you’re trying to argue that a unicycle should be counted as a cycle then its probably unwise to say you’re taking part in a bikeathon:p

I’m not really sure I see your point here. Cyclists are not allowed on the pavement unless specifically stated otherwise. Similar to the idea that a stretch of road with streetlights is always subject to a 30mph speed limit, unless specifically stated otherwise.

actually there is also sommat about speed limit, where smaller unicycles count as being allowed on the pavement, i’ll have a dig around for it.

The specific laws vary by country, state, county, city so it’s not really worth bothering to sort out. But I think in general the best response when a cop asks you not to ride somewhere is to say, “I am sorry I didn’t realize” then WALK away.

As far as my memory of the forum only one person has ever gotten a ticket for unicyclign and that was because he was cokering in a buses only lane and it had nothing to do with his mode of transportation.

Mike, you were right when you said it wasn’t the full story. Let me try to explain what happened and why they were so miffed. I wrote a big post about this last night but then my 'pooter crashed so forgive me if I lose patience with this post and stop before explaining properly.

The reason they went to the Macc Express was not because of the technicalities of why they were stopped but because of one of the officer’s behaviour and attitude. It just so happened that this occurred the week after Pete had been in the paper for two weeks running because of various unicycle antics. Probably why the journalist referred to him as a “stunt cyclist”

Petit Pierre and my sister were on Mill Street in Macc with another friend of ours, Kristen. Han was on the unicycle with a hand on Pete’s shoulder talking to Kristen when the two policemen approached. I shall refer to them from here as “Good Cop” and “Bad Cop.”

GC asked Han to get off the unicycle so they could have a word. She obliged and Pete asked what the problem was. GC then explained that he thought it was dangerous, pedestrianised area etc. At which point BC chimed in when Pete was talking to GC saying things like: “If you want to be immature then go and play in the park”. Any time Pete or Han tried to respond, at the first murmer they were told to shut up by BC.

GC was looking on the whole time and was obviously becoming uneasy at BC’s behaviour. BC basically went into a ten minute unprovoked rant at Pete and Han telling them they were disrespectful, rude and was generally being an arse. Pete and han were nothing but respectful given the circumstances and have never been in any kind of trouble with the police. They appealed to GC saying that his colleague was being totally unreasonable. To which he mumbled a fairly non-commital answer.

The galling thing is that whilst they were being given this dressing down several bikes and cars came down the road. For most of l;ast year I rode up and down the street twice a day to go to and from work and never had a problem. I think this was a slight case of people being judged by their image. I can’t really say I blame him though…Kristen and my sister do tend to look like they’ve been dragged through a psychedelic, day-glo bush backwards. Kristen also seems to have ended up with a lot of twigs from said bush stuck in holes in her face.

Anyway, once the policeman had finished his rant he wrote Pete out a stop form and took Hannah’s details. He couldn’t give her a stop form at the time as he’d run out of them. Apparently BC had to ask what a one wheeled bike was called to put on the form…Doh. Watching him try and write a description of Hannah’s clothing was aapparently pretty comical too. She’s the only girl I know who’s wardrobe should come with an epilepsy warning!

So the main issues here are that he wasted nearly half an hour of Pete and Hannah’s time when a simple “would you mind getting off and walking…No go on, on yer way yer wee one wheeled scamps” would have sufficed. Not to mention wasting their own time. This in a week when there was an armed robbery not a hundred meters from the police station and so far, no one’s been arrested yet. But mainly it was the behaviour of BC.

Since this happened someone has come into the pub where I work and said that his wife had seen the goings on and was amazed at how unreasonable the policeman was being and should they want her help for the complain then it’s there.

So this isn’t really an issue of the intricacies of cycling law but one of annoyance at a total lack of respect from someone we’ve always been taught to, and always have, shown respect to.

well i think we all need to go down for a day and ride through the town in force :smiley:

Since they turned the highstreet into a pedestrians only zone, would be fun :smiley:

I’m up for that!:smiley:

Macc’s own self appointed man of the people has turned his pen to this story.

klick me

I can’t stand this chap, Vic Barlow. He runs a forum called Barlow’s Beef that’s an absolute sham. I post on and promote the alternative Macc forum, ASTM (All Stations To Macclesfield) which is a much nicer place to be than Chez Barlow.

See what an independant media watchdog has said about Mr Barlow’s forum here

I’m well up for that too. They deserve an apology and us unicylists shouldn’t stand for being treated like that!

Also (smart-arse student mode here, sorry mike!:stuck_out_tongue: ) Unicycling on pavements is most definitely legal in the UK so we have nothing to worry about. If the police say otherwise you just ask them what law they are acting under and they’ll be stumped and have to let you on your way.

I disagree. I think paintining a bicycle on the pavement and calling it a cycle path muddies the water for riding on pavments. After all, sometimes all there is is a white line on the pavement to indicate that it is a cycle path.


How a different smart arse student explained this to me is:

They could say that cycling on the pavement is an offence under Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835. They could also say that whilst there hasn’t been any case law to clarify whether unicycles are included in the definition of cycle used by that law and the modification to include cycles (Local Government Act 1888 - section 85), which is “bicycles, tricycles, velocipedes and other similar machines”, given the uncertainty, they’d be justified in stopping you. In that case you’d only be able to try to avoid any fine they gave you by going to a prosecution. At that point you might try to argue that your unicycle is not a similar machine to a bicycle. Although that’d be hard to argue given the various pieces of later legislation using a definition that includes unicycles.

What Pete did in not being confrontational sounds much more sensible than being a smart-arse would be, whilst it’s a bummer to get hassled by the police, (which does tend to happen more if you look like a bit of a hippy doesn’t it, grrr) it’s better to get away without having started a massive argument with an obviously confrontational police officer which would be the first thing that would have happened if they’d been smart arses.


Apparently (i.e. somebody told me but I haven’t actually looked it up myself) the Highway Code has been changed to include unicycles where it mentions cycles, so that would suggest that a unicycle is treated the same as a bicycle officially.