Road Cycling

British Prime Minister Admits to Rule-Breaking by Riding on the Sidewalk – Bicycling

Boris Johnson admits he bikes on sidewalks

Dan KitwoodGetty Images

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Sky News that one of the worst offenses in his life was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk when he would commute to work.
  • Riding on the sidewalk is often illegal, and not only that, it can be more dangerous than riding in the road.

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted to his rebel ways this weekend when he told reporters that when it came to law-breaking, his greatest offense was… riding his bike on the sidewalk.

    Of course, it’s nice to see a politician who actually rides a bike, so it’s hard to be too angry about that minor indiscretion. While not the safest or most legal choice, it’s in line with passing on the right, or wearing white arm-warmers after Labor Day.

    “I may sometimes—when I was riding a bicycle every day, which I used to do—I may sometimes have not always obeyed the law about cycling on the [sidewalk],” he told in an interview about Brexit. He added, “…I might sometimes have scooted up onto the [sidewalk] rather than dismounting before.”

    (Admittedly, Johnson’s record is not as clean as minor bicycle violations: He’s since been called out by the Liberal Democrat party for not in his past.)

    Johnson has long been known as a cycling buff: During his time as the mayor of London, he installed dedicated bike lanes and brought London’s bike-share system, colloquially known as , to fruition. He was also , though he admits since becoming Prime Minister that doesn’t happen much anymore.

    He’s not the only politician who can regularly be spotted biking to work: New Zealand’s Prime Minister actually rode herself to the hospital to give birth back in 2018, while Amsterdam has a dedicated Bike Mayor, and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is a keen road cyclist.

    Johnson’s history as a rule-breaker can serve as a valuable reminder for veteran cyclists and a warning for new cyclists: While there are few times when riding on a sidewalk is allowable or necessary for your safety, in general, cyclists should be riding on the road.

    [Find 52 weeks of tips and motivation, with space to fill in your mileage and favorite routes, with the Bicycling Training Journal.]

    It’s not only illegal in most countries, it can be dangerous for the cyclist. Large cracks and obstacles that are easy to walk over can serve as launch pads for riders and can cause serious damage. In 2014, a crack in the sidewalk launched San Diego resident Clifford Brown 28 feet forward off his bike, causing injuries that left him in the hospital for a month and in rehab for two months. You also risk not being seen by motorists when you do pop back into the flow of traffic.

    Still, Johnson himself acknowledges this faux pas and told Ridge,“I want you to know how firmly and strongly I disapprove of people who cycle on the [sidewalk], and I think it’s wrong and I feel bad about it.”