It took two years for Sussex Police to issue just 100 fines to cyclists using pavements in the county.

But following complaints from residents of Kemp Town about two-wheelers abusing Marine Parade, police handed out 45 in just 120 minutes last week.

More than £1,300 was generated in fines in a few hours after the crackdown was launched.

Cycling groups have criticised the police, declaring the measures over the top.

A Sussex Police spokesman said they targeted people on the morning of June 5 after people in Kemp Town, Brighton, complained.

He said: “Local businesses and members of the public walking in the Kemp Town area raised the issue.

“Local officers completed two hours on that Wednesday morning by the Sea Life Centre.

“Apparently it seems to be more of an issue in the morning.

“People were issued with a ticket for a £30 fine unless they dispute it and this can lead to a court appearance.

“Riding a cycle on the footway is an offence for which a fixed penalty notice can be issued.

“Local officers and PCSOs work to monitor the frequency of this type of behaviour, which can cause concern in local communities and will take action according to local circumstances.”

Becky Reynolds, from the cyclers’ campaign group Bricycle, said: “The police don’t always definitively know where it is and isn’t legal to cycle.

“In the past there have been errors where cyclists have been given fixed penalty notices when they were not cycling illegally and fines have had to be cancelled after we have challenged the action.

“Fixed penalty notices were never intended for responsible cyclists, who sometimes use the pavement out of fear of traffic.

“I have previously had to challenge the use of the phrase ‘zero tolerance’ by police for pavement cycling.

“Cyclists should always behave responsibly, but pedestrians have far more to fear from contact with motor vehicles.

“With police resources spread thinly I would hope that the police and PCSOs are prioritising enforcement against the most dangerous road behaviour, not picking on people, particularly children, who are avoiding traffic or unfriendly road design. Education is preferable to fines.”

Brighton and Hove City Council said fining of cyclists was a police issue.