Cycling Scotland has called on food delivery companies to provide couriers "effective training around cycling safety" and check the bikes they ride "are legal and road worthy". The comments come as a Glasgow cyclist says he had been left "terrified" after a collision involving a courier riding the wrong way along a two-way cycle lane, the police admitting that some couriers are riding bikes that are "absolutely" not legal.
The discussion surrounds the use of powerful electric bicycles that are actually legally classed as like petrol-powered mopeds, not electrically assisted pedal cycles which are only allowed to assist the person up to the speed of 15.5mph (25km/h). The general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation admitted to BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime programme that "there is not enough police officers on the street to deal with" people riding bikes that are not legal.
The result is that in many urban areas couriers and other people can be seen riding 'e-bikes' that are actually closer to mopeds and that require a licence, tax and insurance, a helmet, and that can only be ridden on roads or unrestricted byways.
Speaking to the BBC, Cycling Scotland's road safety manager Simon Bradshaw said food delivery companies need to do more to check their riders' bikes "to make sure that they are legal".
The comments come after the news outlet also heard from Ben Williams, a 24-year-old PhD student studying in Glasgow, who suffered a torn kidney in a crash caused by a courier riding at around 15mph the wrong way along a two-lane cycle path.
"When I think back, the guy must have been on his phone because there is no way we would have collided if he was paying any attention," he said. "I'm terrified of them, the amount of times I have had an e-bike come down the cycle lane at full chap. I just move out of the way now. Why risk it, I don't want to get hurt again."
Mr Bradshaw of Cycling Scotland said responsiblity should fall on delivery companies to ensure riders are using "legal" bikes and are properly trained on "cycling safety".
"A simple thing would be are companies actually checking the bikes that the riders are using to make sure that they are legal," he said. "If the riders are given effective training around cycling safety, if their bikes are checked to make sure that their bikes are legal and road worthy and if they're given effective training and support and the right safety equipment then I'm sure that would make a difference."
Commenting on the situation, the Scottish Police Federation general secretary David Kennedy suggested people assume if they can buy something then it must be legal, "not realising no in actual fact it's legal to buy it — but not use it on the road".
He added that "absolutely" some bikes do not meet the legal standards, but in practise it is more complex as "there is not enough police officers on the street to deal with it" and stating it can be difficult to "tell just by looking at a bike how fast it is or the power of it".
Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats all responded similarly to the comments, stating that safety was a priority, Deliveroo saying all its couriers undergo a programme of road safety guidance and are "offered equipment to ensure they are visible to all road users".
Just Eat said "appropriate action" would be taken if a courier was not meeting the company's standards, while Uber Eats said riders are expected to follow all laws and regulations.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.