Police should be more lenient with cyclists who mount the pavement at dangerous sections of road, the police have been told.

The advice comes from transport minister Robert Goodwill amid claims that police are ignoring official advice.

He said enforcing laws prohibiting cycling on pavements is a matter for police, but he argues discretion should be exercised “where a cyclist is using the pavement alongside a dangerous section of road out of fear of the traffic”.

He referred to guidance from 1999, when fixed penalties for cycling on pavements were introduced, which say the aim is not to penalise “responsible cyclists”.

The guidance says: “The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic, and who show consideration to other pavement users.

"Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.”