Cyclists in Cyprus already have plenty to worry about -- a lack of bike lanes, aggressive drivers, haphazardly parked cars, broken glass, dangerously placed storm grates. Now, under a new legislative proposal, if riders seek refuge from those hazards on the sidewalk, they could be jailed for up to two weeks.
If the proposal is passed into law, cyclists could receive fines of up to 500 euros and/or a 15-day jail term for sidewalk riding, the Cyprus Mail reported earlier this month. Following the issue yesterday, the Mideast environmental news site Green Prophet wrote:
Sidewalks The Only Safe Cycling Option
The problem with this law? Cypriot cyclists currently have no allocated bike lanes and it is dangerous for them to use the roads, so the sidewalks are their only real urban cycling option. Take this away, and you may as well be taking cycling in Cyprus away altogether.
Cypriot Environment Commissioner Charalambos Theopemptou is, fortunately, making the same argument to try and get the provision removed from the draft bill, telling lawmakers that "such a ban should be enforced only when the necessary infrastructure is put in place or else it will keep cyclists away.”
Driving Culture Must Be Changed
Cyclists who commented on the Cyprus Mail article expressed frustration with being "terrorized by cars driving way too close" and being "cut up, ignored, driven directly at" too many times to count on the heavily car-dependent island. According to a separate article in the same paper, Cyprus ranks 16 out of 133 countries in terms of car ownership.
As the Cyprus-based blogger Me, Gone wrote in response to the proposal: "Rather than blame cyclists for being on the sidewalk, they [officials] need to create bicycle lanes and establish a driving culture that is respectful and understanding of cyclists."
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