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Councillor urges delivery riders to learn the Highway Code to ward off licensing or insurance rules that would have a “detrimental impact” on cycling

The comments came after a Glasgow councillor proposed bringing in new licensing and insurance rules for cyclists to tackle with traffic offenders

An SNP councillor from Glasgow has urged delivery riders to learn and obey the Highway Code, amidst concerns about traffic offences committed by such cyclists led to the proposal of license plates and insurance by his peer. However, the council said it will not support such measures, citing a “significant detrimental impact” on active travel.

In recent times, there has been an increase in tickets issed by the police force to cyclists in the city centre for jumping red lights and riding on the pavement, with a lot of them being cyclists using e-bikes and working for food delivery services, reports Glasgow Live.

At a meeting earlier this week, Labour councillor Patricia Ferguson raised the question of bringing in new licensing rules and an insurance requirement.

She asked if discussions had taken place with the government on the “possibility of introducing a licensing system and insurance requirement for those who ride delivery bikes.”

However, SNP councillor Angus Millar, Convener for climate, transport and city centre recovery, said it was uncertain how any new regulations would work however, and said the council couldn't support licensing for all cyclists in case it would dissuade people from being on bikes.

> Cycling charity urges food delivery companies to check couriers are using legal e-bikes after cyclist left "terrified" by cycle lane collision

SNP Councillor Millar said: “Local police operations, with council engagement, have had a particular focus on delivery riders.

“In my capacity as a local member for the city centre, I have also met with local police and representatives from delivery companies to impress upon them the importance of reinforcing the rules and responsibilities of the Highway Code among their riders.”

He added: “A licensing system or insurance requirement for delivery riders would likely require legislative change, likely at UK Government level. While I have discussed these issues with various parliamentarians, no formal discussions have taken place with either the UK or Scottish Government regarding this.”

Expressing doubt over how new laws would work, he said: “It should be noted that it is unclear how any such legislation or regulations could be targeted at a specific user group as opposed to all people on bikes, and it is not known how it would be enforced.

“The council would not support any general move to introduce licensing requirements for cycling as this would have a significant detrimental impact on our agreed active travel behaviour change efforts.”

> Is there anywhere cyclists are required to be licensed, and how has it gone in the past?

Number plate

The subject of number plates and insurance has been brought up time and time again, however, many experts have argued that the idea is not feasible and difficult to implement, while also making it harder for people to ride bikes.

Speaking to road.cc in 2022, city planner and urban mobility expert Brent Toderian  said: “As those who are actually informed on the issue point out all the reasons why it's far too expensive, won't work, and would be detrimental to actual stated public goals. Usually the conversation is initiated by the same people who would rather see fewer bikes and less safe bike infrastructure.”

In August 2022, the UK had flirted with the idea much to the dread of millions of cyclists in the country when then Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that cyclists should be insured, carry licence plates on their bikes, and be subject to the same speed limits as motorists.

However, it took him only three days to backtrack from his statement, insisting that the government has “no plans to introduce registration plates” for cyclists.

Most recently, in November last year, former Met Police chief Lord Hogan-Howe reignited the discussion in the House of Lords, claiming that cyclists should need “a registration plate somewhere on the back” in order to avoid being “entirely unaccountable”.

> Cyclists blast Italian government’s “extremely worrying” plans to introduce bike registration plates and insurance

Meanwhile, in October, Cycling Scotland had called on food delivery companies to provide couriers “effective training around cycling safety” and check the bikes they ride “are legal and roadworthy”.

The comments come after a Glasgow cyclist said that 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.

Just today, the UK Government announced it is planning to consult on doubling the legal wattage of electric bike motors to 500W. National charity Cycling UK has raised concerns about the decision, calling it a “huge safety risk to pedestrians and others who cycle”.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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25 comments

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Orbeaman | 1 month ago
0 likes

No need, it is covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act, under operating machinery.

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Tdmwac | 1 month ago
4 likes

This article highlights the ignorance of the elected councillors. No new laws are required, they just need to enforce the existing ones.

The vast majority of the delivery riders in Glasgow are running about on electric mopeds without helmets, no type approval, no number plates and probably no insurance.

Electric mopeds are easy to differentiate from legal e-bikes in Glasgow as they tend to zip about at > 15 mile an hour uphill without even kidding on they're pedalling, cos they're fitted with throttles.

Trust me, only elite athletes can hold 20mph going up West Nile Street, I can do about 10mph on a legal eMTB and I'm fairly stomping on the pedals.

Long story short, use the existing laws properly before developing new ones.

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belugabob | 1 month ago
1 like

It's not so much not being aware of the highway code, but more a complete disregard towards it.
This applies to holder of driving licences, also, as they are already required to have a good working knowledge of the highway code, but are too often seen to have that level of disregard.

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mattw | 1 month ago
5 likes

Learning tyhe Highway Code is a good call, however this is about politics and stunts.

Is there an Election due there soon?

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Fursty Ferret | 1 month ago
4 likes

Quite happy to have exceptions made to enforce and regulate delivery riders. They aren't on bikes, they're on electric motorbikes but sharing space with pedestrians and normal cyclists.

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chrisonabike replied to Fursty Ferret | 1 month ago
1 like

Some of them...

Not a fan of this side of the business - but getting the correct terms is important.  I do think we should look at addressing things by more regulation of the "big dealers" - the companies.  As others have said once you get to the small fry e.g. riders you've got a much bigger task, with folks who are less regular and they come and go all the time.  It likely needs action at both top and bottom here (the demand side will probably always be there...)

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eburtthebike | 1 month ago
14 likes

Presumably the councillor is basing this proposal on his observance of white van delivery drivers, who always follow the HC.

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marmotte27 | 1 month ago
14 likes

So somehow the problem is cycling and not firms, whose business model is incompatible with the observation of correct rules and standards, pressing every last cent of profit from their employees?

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hawkinspeter replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
7 likes

marmotte27 wrote:

So somehow the problem is cycling and not firms, whose business model is incompatible with the observation of correct rules and standards, pressing every last cent of profit from their employees?

It's not just cycling as car and van drivers are pressured into making deliveries as fast as possible and that inevitably leads to less safe driving.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
4 likes

And "creative" parking (cycle lanes and indeed paths a favourite)...

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Steve K | 1 month ago
17 likes

I get very frustrated by being overtaken by delivery riders doing well over 20mph whilst not pedalling, but...

The only reason they ride fast, illegal, bikes and run red lights etc is so they can get deliveries done quickly enough to make something approaching a living out of their jobs.  The whole business model is broken.

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matthewn5 replied to Steve K | 1 month ago
3 likes

Steve K wrote:

I get very frustrated by being overtaken by delivery riders doing well over 20mph whilst not pedalling, but...

The only reason they ride fast, illegal, bikes and run red lights etc is so they can get deliveries done quickly enough to make something approaching a living out of their jobs.  The whole business model is broken.

Absolutely this. Go for the exploitative companies that are working these people to the bone, not those exploited by them.

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Miller | 1 month ago
8 likes

A lot of delivery riders pay no attention to, and probably have no conception of, the highway code. I am constantly impressed by their free and easy riding style while not wishing to copy it. On the other hand there are loads of delivery riders only because the general public loves their services and it provides an income for lots of people who could struggle otherwise. And I think the people who complain most hate cycling anyway.

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wtjs replied to Miller | 1 month ago
4 likes

A lot of delivery riders police officers pay no attention to, and probably have no conception of, the highway code

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Hirsute | 1 month ago
3 likes

Make sure the bikes are legal and not illegal motorbikes.

I did talk to a PSCO in town this month when he was putting out bike lock labels. When I mentioned illegal bikes he said the delivery people turnover was too high to actually educate anyone.

 

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ROOTminus1 replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
5 likes

Or the PCSOs could spend a Thursday eve outside the local McDonald's and seize illegal bikes. Then spend Friday at Burger King and Saturday outside KFC. That would be some efficient policing

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Hirsute replied to ROOTminus1 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Where I live, there are so few police about that they sometimes have to come from other towns at the w/e. I suspect the pscos have to constantly go from town to town across essex and have no scope to follow your good suggestion.

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wtjs replied to ROOTminus1 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Are PCSOs empowered for such Dredd-like antics as seizing illegal bikes?

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
9 likes

That's a good point. Well over a decade ago, I was approached by Deliveroo - then a relatively 'small' startup with an office in central London, off Tottenham Court Road - to train their riders. I went for several meetings and began to understand the scale of the problem - first of all the number of riders they had and the turn over was huge. Even with a limitless budget and unlimited time it would have been impossible to train every rider. Riders were coming into the job and leaving on a constant conveyor belt. It was 'ruleless'. We then opted to train several dozen of their more "experienced' riders who would then instruct new riders. So we arranged everything; booked instructors, cycles, location but come the dates of the training hardly any one turned up - I don't think there was any financial incentive for the riders to attend the training. The managers did try but the business model does not allow for it. It's casual work - of the most casual sort. No one gives a f**k - just make money. If you start to train riders then things have to be formalised and that doesn't work for the business or, indeed, for the customer - who wants cheap, crap food delivered quickly and at minimum cost. 

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mattw replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
1 like

Educate the companies ...

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stonojnr replied to mattw | 1 month ago
1 like

The companies, bigger ones at least, will claim they have rules & regs that delivery riders who ride for them are expected to follow.

but its the job of the police to enforce HC and laws on the roads not them.

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Pub bike replied to stonojnr | 1 month ago
0 likes

Without enforcement by the police or local authority people will continue to break the rules because they know there is no penalty, and therefore no financial or other incentive to comply.  And this doesn't just apply to delivery riders riding unregistered electric motorcycles.

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Hirsute replied to mattw | 1 month ago
2 likes

Don't be silly we voted to reduce red tape and bureaucracy !

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Born_peddling | 1 month ago
0 likes

How about delivery riders being registered with the local authority while also agreeing to cycle proficiency (highway code awareness included) for those that never had the opportunity? It's not quite a license but it's a step towards responsibility....

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP replied to Born_peddling | 1 month ago
4 likes

Why why would the local authority want that cost? They struggle to provide basic services so why would they wish to hire staff to register and train riders / app delivery companies. Now if the companies paid for it - but then, they  wouldn't. 

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