A man who featured in a campaign to promote cycling in Edinburgh has made an official complaint claiming that police officers tried to fine him for riding on the footway, even though he was on a signed shared-use path.
The Edinburgh Evening News reports that Benjie Bateman was cycling on the off-road path between Leith Links and Portobello when a police van pulled up alongside him, with one of the two officers insisting he had committed a “ticketable offence.”
Mr Bateman said: “I was cycling along the cycle path next to Seafield Road when a police van pulled up beside me and an officer barked ‘Just what do you think you’re doing?
“That’s a pavement you’re cycling on, which is a ticketable offence’.”
“I said ‘This is a cycle path’ and she [the police officer] said ‘No it’s not, it only becomes a cycle path further on’.
“I pointed to a sign about 15 metres back along the cycle path from the way I’d come and said ‘There’s a sign there stating that this is a cycle path’.
“When I turned back round to the officer, her male colleague hit the gas and they sped off, taking a right turn towards the McDonald’s drive-thru. No apology, nothing.”
The 40-year-old said it was the first time he had encountered such a situation when riding on the path, on which cycling has been permitted for three years now.
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland told the Edinburgh Evening News: “Our professional standards department have received a complaint relating to the conduct of officers in the Seafield area and inquiries are ongoing into this.”
Ian Maxwell of the Edinburgh and Lothian cycling campaign group Spokes called for police officers to be better informed about where cyclists are allowed to share the footway with pedestrians.
“This sounds like an unusual incident,” he said. “I’m very surprised because it’s been signposted for some time and one would think it would be fairly clear where the cycle path begins.
“It sounds like there’s a bit of awareness needed from the police, especially where there’s an off-road path which is used by both pedestrians and cyclists.”
Last year, Mr Bateman appeared on flyers promoting Edinburgh City Council’s ‘On Foot By Bike’ campaign which encouraged active travel and was funded by the Scottish Government.
Cycling on the footway is an offence under section 72 of the Highways Act.
However, under Home Office guidance issued in 1999 that was confirmed as still valid by transport minister Robert Goodwill in 2014 and ratified by the Association of Chief Police Officers, cyclists may ride on the footway as long as they do so considerately, and officers are required to exercise discretion when issuing fines.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.