POLICE are turning a blind eye to cyclists in Southend’s High Street after admitting they can’t be stopped.
Although the practice is outlawed, senior cops say there are not enough warning signs about the ban to justify a crackdown.
They say officers are told to ask cyclists to dismount, but it is “rare” any penalties are handed out.
David Colwell, the town’s chief inspector, said: “There are no signs, which makes it difficult to enforce.
“We do stop them and ask them to get off, but it is rare that they would be penalised and given a ticket.”
Under the Highway Act 1835, cycling in pedestrianised areas is illegal unless it has been deemed a “shared-use” area by a council.
Breaking this rule was made punishable by a fine of £30 by the Government in 1988.
Although the High Street is technically a “shared-use” area, a separate set of Southend bylaws include a restriction on cycling.
However, the thoroughfare is confusingly included in Southend Council’s published cycling routes.
Cyclists are supposed to dismount at one end of the High Street and walk to where they want to go, but Mr Colwell said that rarely happens in practice.
He added: “My officers are told to stop them and make them walk the rest of the way. But it does not happen all the time.”
Henry Thomas, 23, of York Road, Southend, cycles across the High Street on his way to work in London Road, Westcliff, every day.
He said: “I didn’t even realise you couldn’t ride in the High Street. There’s nothing to tell you.
“I don’t see why it’s a problem. I don’t ride on pavements because they’re narrow, but the High Street is wide enough for everyone.
“There’s no need to ban it.”