Four-year-old’s bike ordeal sparks nationwide debate

Sophie Lindley on her bike accompanied by her father Dale Lindley.
Sophie Lindley on her bike accompanied by her father Dale Lindley.

There has been a nationwide response to the Journal’s story on Sophie Lindley, the four-year-old who was told by a policeman last week that he would confiscate her bike if she continued to ride on the pavement.

Readers have been as shocked as Sophie’s father Dale was last Monday, when the pair were making their way to her school, The West Grantham Academy St John’s.

They regularly make the journey with Mr Lindley holding his daughter’s stabilised bike on a lead, yet this time their routine was interrupted on Trent Road when a police car pulled up and an officer told them they were breaking the law.

“He then drove off but said he’d be checking his mirrors, and if he saw her riding the bike again he would confiscate it,” said Mr Lindley.

The incident has ignited a debate in national media and amongst cycling groups over the rules regarding children riding on pavements.

Many have identified Home Office guidance that police should use ‘discretion’ when it comes to young children, but it has led to calls for great clarity over who can and who can’t cycle on pavements.

Reacting to the story on the Journal website, Jess Bromley wrote: “Telling a four-year-old she cannot cycle on the pavement is stupid! Children of that age cannot ride on the road, it’s too dangerous, especially with her still having stabilisers. Honestly, I think amendments need to be made to this law, maybe an age limit?”

On Facebook, Kayleigh Kiki Wheatley wrote: “This is so pathetic! If she was riding on the road, he would be calling the father irresponsible!”

Mr Lindley says the family have been overwhelmed by the response, and are concerned about the effect it is having on Sophie.

“All we really want is a letter of apology,” he said.

Mr Lindley added that now when he and his daughter make their way to school, with Sophie on her bike, passers-by have honked their horns and shouted their support. While he appreciates the gesture, he is looking forward to things going back to normal.

Meanwhile Lincolnshire Police are still investigating the incident, and have so far been unable to identify any officer involved. In a statement sent out to all enquiries via social media, they said: “Safety, as always, is our priority and we are currently trying to establish the facts.”