DRAFT proposals to fine and imprison cyclists for offences such as riding on pavements are unfair as long as it remains dangerous for them use the roads, Environment Commissioner Charalambos Theopemptou said yesterday.

Theopemptou was giving his views at the House Communications and Works Committee, which was discussing a draft law providing for a series of fines and imprisonment of between seven days to two months or both for various offences. For instance cycling on the highway could mean a fine of €1,000.

As far as riding on the pavement is concerned, the bill provides for a fine of up to €500 and or 15 days in jail. 

Theopemptou said that banning bicycles from pavements in the absence of the necessary infrastructure on the roads would discourage people from cycling at all. He urged lawmakers to remove the provision.

Theopemptou said the ban was correct in theory, but because Cyprus lacks the necessary infrastructure the pavement is the only safe choice for cyclists.

“Such a ban should be enforced only when the necessary infrastructure is put in place or else it will keep cyclists away,” Theopemptou said in a memo submitted to the House Communications Committee.

The commissioner said on many roads where Cypriot drivers typically drive fast, the pavement is the only safe haven for bicycles.

Many problems also arise from the drivers’ behaviour, MPs heard.

 “With the way cars move in Cyprus and the deficiencies in infrastructure, it is almost certain that if this provision is not removed, cyclists will decrease instead of increase,” Theopemptou said.

Apart from the drivers, cyclists in Cyprus are also faced with other hazards, the Commissioner said. 

He said one particular type of storm drain grate that is aligned parallel to the road could act as a trap for bicycle wheels – especially road bikes as opposed to mountain bikes, which have thick tyres.

“Road bicycles usually have very thin tyres and storm drain grates are a great danger since they trap the wheel and cause the cyclist to fall abruptly,” Theopemptou said.

He said the bill correctly bans the installation of grates that run parallel to the direction of the bicycle but no reference is made of any obligation to change those already there. 

Theopemptou said the bill also lacks other provisions including changes to traffic lights to facilitate cyclists and the creation of bicycle parking spots.

Committee The Chairman of the Communications Antonis Antoniou said the aim of the bill was to encourage cycling as it was a cheap and healthy and environmentally-friendly way to get around.

Police traffic chief Demetris Demetriou said that the bill covered all of the obligations and rights of cyclists, the duties of drivers of drivers towards cyclists and those of bicycle sellers and importers. The bill also contains the legislative framework for the operation of bicycle lanes.

He said on average two or three cyclists die on the roads each year.

Theopemptou said that on October 26 the new bicycle rental system to operate in Nicosia would be launched. There will be around 30 designated stations around the capital where people can pick up or drop off a bike.


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