A Bournemouth police chief has warned that dangerous cyclists who insist on riding on pavements or without lights could receive fixed penalty tickets.

Inspector Neil MacBean told civic leaders that the enforcement of cycling legislation was not a recognised priority for police officers.

But he stressed that officers would take a stand against law-breaking cyclists in problem areas such as Westbourne, where foreign students have been caught flouting the one-way system.

The council's environment and economy scrutiny panel heard how the borough now boasted "a dedicated cycling officer".

Cllr Ron Whittaker said congested Castle Lane West should be "a priority area" and asked how many convictions there had been for cycling without lights.

Insp MacBean said: "Very few; we have introduced fixed penalty tickets.

"If the person responsible goes out and buys lights within 21 days they will not have to pay the penalty charge.

"Over the last couple of years 40 or 50 cyclists have been dealt with in this manner in Westbourne.

"If there is a community problem we will deal with complaints.

"Officers are asked to stop cyclists, speak to them and ticket them if necessary."

Cllr Phil Stanley-Watts said he had received a large number of complaints concerning cyclists in the pedestrian precinct in Boscombe.

Angela Pooley, representing the Cycle Forum, said the group did not condone cycling on pavements, adding: "Shared footpaths should be a last resort.

"Cycling has a positive impact on people's health and we would like to see a 20mph speed limit on all side roads, which would encourage the less confident cyclists to have a go.

"We would also welcome cycling being allowed at any time of the year along the seafront, except during July and August."