A Melksham man is asking Wiltshire Council to back a crackdown on young cyclists who are endangering the safety of older people by riding on footpaths.

Former Melksham Older People’s Champion Chris Pickett says that youngsters riding on bicycles and scooters are placing lives at risk by riding on footpaths not designed to be dual pathways and cycleways.

Mr Pickett, 75, said: “I am sure many of our older generation who wish to walk safely around our towns for exercise, shopping, social contact etc, will have similar complaints that, the pavements are being made more and more unsafe due to the increase in cyclist riding (often too fast) along, what is a narrow pedestrian footway - in very close proximity to traffic that travels at 30mph  - which we all know, can kill should we step into the road.

“This complaint is levelled at both adults and children, for which parental guidance must be improved.”

Mr Pickett of Woodstock Gardens, says he saw an 18-20-year-old man doing ‘wheelies’ on one wheel of his bike on the footpath along the Bath Road in Melksham at midday on Saturday (May 20) when a lot of people were in town shopping.

“I guess he thought he was clever but it was downright stupidity. Anyone could have walked out of the shops and he would have ploughed straight into them.”

He also witnessed young children riding home with their parents from the Aloeric Primary School in Kings Road, Melksham, where the footpaths are particularly narrow on both sides.

“Some parents are either on a bike themselves or walking some distance behind. In both cases oblivious of what they are teaching their children,” Mr Pickett said.

Acknowledging that not all parents behave in this way, he feels they should be teaching their offspring to ride safely on the road.

“I make an apology to a mother who, though riding on the road, felt that her son was safer on the pavement, but was unable to see that had she taught the child to ride on the road alongside her he would be both safe, as would the pedestrians,” he said.

Mr Pickett added: “My reason is to enlist the support of Wiltshire Council, and its elected members, to instigate a method that will make it clear to all, that the pavements in our towns are primarily for pedestrians and only when legally designated, can they be use as a ‘dual footpath’ for cyclist and pedestrians.

“We currently have a new Highway Code which has been written with a strong bias towards cyclists.

“This I have no problem with, provided the pedestrian (and motorists) have a right to a safe passage and not to be at risk of being either, involved in an accident or personally injured by selfish cyclists.”

He says his appeal also applies to young people and adults riding electric scooters illegally on footpaths and roads in breach of the law.

“The present situation being that the ‘law makers’ (this includes our elected members as lobbyists), do not see the importance of correcting the law to support the police.

“Some forces have taken a very robust stand and will confiscate scooters when not on private land – as the law states.”

Wiltshire Police are responsible for enforcing the Highway Code. They have been approached for a comment.