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Police crackdown on dangerous delivery cyclists after cycling charity urged companies to do more following cycle lane crash

Last week, a cyclist said he had been left "terrified" by food delivery riders using illegal e-bikes at high speeds in cycle lanes, Cycling Scotland calling on companies to check the bikes they ride "are legal and road worthy"...

Police in Glasgow have responded to safety concerns from cyclists and a cycling charity about food delivery couriers riding illegal e-bikes dangerously in the city, the crackdown coming in the same week when a cyclist said he had been left "terrified" by a crash caused by an incident which saw him hit in a cycle lane by a courier riding the wrong way at high speed.

Officers from Police Scotland seized 15 illegal e-bikes and reported more than 20 people for road traffic offences, the Scottish Daily Express reports, pictures shared by the force on social media showing high-powered or modified illegal e-bikes that can assist the rider beyond the 15.5mph (25km/h) e-bike limit and are legally distinct from the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPC) requirements.

Police Scotland said it was "targeting those riding illegally modified electric bikes capable of going at high speeds", the comments coming in the same week 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 road worthy". 

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

Last week, one Glasgow cyclist told the story of how he had been left "terrified" and with a torn kidney after a bike lane crash caused by a courier riding the wrong way at around 15mph.

"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," Ben Williams said. "I'm terrified of them, the amount of times I have had an [illegal] 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."

Cycling Scotland's road safety manager said food delivery companies should be doing more to ensure riders' bikes are legal and effective training on cycling safety is provided.

"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."

Just Eat cyclist.PNG

The Scottish Police Federation's general secretary said part of the issue was people assuming if they can buy these bikes then they must be legal, "not realising no in actual fact it's legal to buy it — but not use it on the road".

He went on to say that "absolutely" some bikes do not meet the legal standards, but in practise it is more complex as "there are not enough police officers on the street to deal with it" and stated it can be difficult to "tell just by looking at a bike how fast it is or the power of it".

> "You're just collateral" — Ultra-cycling legend Steve Abraham on Deliveroo and the gig economy

Faced with the last week's developments, food delivery companies Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats all released statements saying safety is a priority.

Deliveroo said 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.

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37 comments

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brooksby | 3 months ago
1 like

Article on the BBC about deliveroo type app couriers subcontracting their accounts

Children working as riders for food delivery apps - BBC investigation

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-67371473

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mattw | 3 months ago
1 like

I see about one of these per day in my small town - generally being ridden fairly sensibly, though obvs still illegal.

People haring around tend to have Surrons or off-road motorcycles.

One occurrence in the text of PSPOs is staff "unable to tell the difference between legal & illegal "Ebikes'", as a justification for banning *all* including attemtping to apply it to EAPCs.

Obvs the term "Ebike" is still emaningless.

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mattw | 3 months ago
1 like

Re the headline.

Motorbike or Moped Riders, NOT cyclists.

We're havgin a battle to get the misleading language out of Police press releases, and PSPOs.

Please - not here.

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bensynnock | 3 months ago
6 likes

So, you arrive in the UK somehow and submit a claim for asylum, you're put in some kind of accommodation and given vouchers for food. You aren't permitted to work, but you want to work because you want a better life for your family and you want to keep busy. Then you hear about somebody who can get you work - he gives you an account on some platform, maybe Uber eats, that he's bought from the original owner, and her gives you a home built ebike - with a big battery strapped to it and a throttle to control the speed...

Then he takes the money you earn delivering takeaways and gives you a percentage of it, and you have to carry on working for him because you owe him for the bike and the account.

This is what is called 'modern day slavery'.

The delivery companies can't or won't do anything about it. The police should be seizing the illegal bikes and arresting the gang masters.

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Rat West | 3 months ago
4 likes

In Milton Keynes we have a great cycleway network which we call Redways, which I have used for 50 years. In this last year I've had three near misses by speed pedelecs on the Redway, and numerous examples of bad riding too. Many are not couriers and some are youngsters. Also the appearance of bought scooters, not allowed either, some of which are 50 kilos plus, have become a danger. Together with the hired ones both being ridden and scattered around the cycleway system, these issues needs urgent reconsideration. Parents hoping to take the kids out on the bikes will be unable to if this isn't better regulated and actually enforced.

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Broady. | 3 months ago
3 likes

These things are rife in Leeds, gotta say I admire the bravado of the riders, blasting through red lights at busy junctions with no lights and just a balaclava to protect them.

Genuinely surprised the Police / Council haven't stepped in at this point, I see so many close calls on my commute alone, that's not even going down the obvious rabbit hole of them essentially all being illegal mopeds with a throttle etc.

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Rick_Rude | 3 months ago
5 likes

I was in Leeds town centre on a night recently and it's pretty lawless stuff if you're on a delivery bike. If I did any of that stuff on my motorbike or car I'd get nicked. 99% of these riders are always full balaclava'd up as well. Wonder why.

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LarryN | 3 months ago
6 likes

This problem has exploded in recent years. I've had numerous encounters with various riders, on all manner of vehicles. It much more than a bike issue; it's the behaviour of riders. They use all manner of pedestrian paths, subways etc. I've emailed Uber, Deliveroo, Just Eat, Domino's, KFC.
Some of them promise to take action, or claim they 'train' riders. Mostly rubbish.
You can rarely complain directly to the 'apps'. I look up the CEO and board contacts, which I did with KFC. Of course, no reply. They might wake up if there is a death, as happened a while ago to a gig economy courier driver.
Awful phrase, 'gig economy'!

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headlong | 3 months ago
15 likes

We're calling people riding illegal, unregistered motorbikes "cyclists" are we? Just because the motor is electric? WTF?

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Sriracha | 3 months ago
11 likes

Can we stop calling these "illegal e-bikes" please. It just muddies the water and, by association, damages the cause of e/cyclists in general, giving "gammunition" to certain wings of the media. These are electric motor vehicles. They have nothing to do with cycling or cyclists, any more than do Harley Davidson or Honda.

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OnYerBike replied to Sriracha | 3 months ago
3 likes
Sriracha wrote:

[...] They have nothing to do with cycling or cyclists, any more than do Harley Davidson or Honda.

https://ebiketips.road.cc/content/news/honda-becomes-latest-automotive-m...

In all seriousness, I do largely agree with you - I would much rather we use "e-bike" solely for legal EPACs, and use "illegal electric motorbike" or similar for such vehicles. I guess the counter argument is that, like it or not, "e-bike" is the widely used term for these devices which are sold without approval for use on public roads, and to use a different term could create more confusion.

I would also note that it is also perfectly possible to buy street legal electric motorbikes that are sold as such to licenced motorbikers; and presumably law-abiding motorbikers would similarly object to being lumped in with these crimimals. 

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Secret_squirrel | 3 months ago
14 likes

Since delivery companies are already starting to get nobbled to treat their "partners" as employees one can only hope that the next logical step is to include them in the liability of the rider if they cause an accident.

That would put the hook right where it needs to be.

I dont see why police time and money should be wasted on this stuff when there is a corporate who should be held responsible.

A few million pound law suits would soon sort it out.

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sprlowe@gmail.com replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 months ago
2 likes

if they are employees, and they are (like Uber drivers before them) then the employer would be liable for the negligence of the riders that results in damage and injury. Simples. So, as you say, the realisation of their liability will stiffen the delivery companies' resolve to ensure their employees are riding legal bikes and that they ride sensibly.

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Brauchsel replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 months ago
1 like
Secret_squirrel wrote:

I dont see why police time and money should be wasted on this stuff when there is a corporate who should be held responsible.

 

Because riding an unregistered motor vehicle, without a licence, without lights and in excess of speed limits breaks several criminal laws. Catching people who have committed crimes, and preventing people from committing further crimes, is pretty much what the police's time and money is there for. 

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Secret_squirrel replied to Brauchsel | 3 months ago
1 like
Brauchsel wrote:

Because riding an unregistered motor vehicle, without a licence, without lights and in excess of speed limits breaks several criminal laws. Catching people who have committed crimes, and preventing people from committing further crimes, is pretty much what the police's time and money is there for. 

 

Way to miss the actual point.   There will *always* be more crime than there are available police officers to investigate it, hence eliminating it by putting the responsibility of an incident onto the regulation dodging "disrupters" will much reduce the incidence of it and give the police time to do something else...

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Rat West replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 months ago
0 likes

Sounds like red tape,this government has been getting rid of such by the truckload for decades!

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FionaJJ replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 months ago
2 likes

Self regulation doesn't work well. It's just a ploy to let big business cut corners and increase shareholder profits.

Yes, the corporations should be held responsible, but it needs the police and/or councils to be doing enough routine and spot checks to disrupt their business to they see it on the profit spreadsheet before they'll care. 

A corporate manslaughter charge would sharpen minds, but it would require someone to die first, and for there to be enough evidence and enough will to pursue it. And without a body of evidence that a corporation has been willfully neglecting their responsibilities, their expensive lawyers will get them off the hook.

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chrisonabike replied to FionaJJ | 3 months ago
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"Corporation: an ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility." Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911.

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Spammercial | 3 months ago
1 like

Hello. They're exactly part of the new slaves needed by Western society . Everyone knows how to ride a bike. No one can have a car license even if they have the money to buy a car. It would be better. So everyone on their bikes: no documents, no insurance and the more deliveries you make, the more you earn. They play into the hands of the food multinationals. A lot of them are coming. Who cares if they kill somebody? Nexxxxxt.... Very well

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chrisonabike replied to Spammercial | 3 months ago
4 likes

Well... if we have a choice I'd rather an untrained, unlicenced cyclist than an untrained, unlicenced driver (car or motorbike).  (Believe it or not we actually have more than enough of the latter already).

However I don't want to see anyone riding motorbikes (electric or otherwise) on "cycle paths" (which means "shared use paths" in the UK, mostly - so a risk to people cycling or walking).  I'd much prefer it if delivery cyclists on legal (electric or not) bikes didn't pull thoughtless and/or illegal moves like RLJ or riding the wrong way in traffic or for distances on footways.

The "need" though is mostly coming from the firms profiting from this.  They need to pay their investors / shareholders (or at least win market share for their "dumb money" venture capital).

Yeah - so everyone would need to pay more for their takeaway curry, or collect it themselves.  Sorry for the food business but tough.

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Spammercial replied to chrisonabike | 3 months ago
0 likes

Chrisonatrike
"Well... if we have a choice I'd rather an untrained, unlicenced cyclist than an untrained, unlicenced driver (car or motorbike). (Believe it or not we actually have more than enough of the latter already)."
I agree 100% with you...I only think that if they get licensed and trained and insured to drive a car they are less dangerous than unlicensed and untrained on an illegal electric thing  1

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KDee replied to Spammercial | 3 months ago
2 likes

I wouldn't count on it. The kids that deliver for Domino's etc here using registered & insured scooters (petrol or electric) ride them like they stole them 

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chrisonabike | 3 months ago
6 likes

Good.  Obviously it takes more than a one-off though.  Systemic issues: a) food delivery companies whose entire business plan seems centred around "work around the usual regulations protecting those working for you and the members of the public" and b) clearly there are lots of people looking for a way to make (not very much) cash no-questions asked.

Our Home Secretary has grasped the fact of (b) although I couldn't disagree more with her approach to dealing with this...

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AidanR | 3 months ago
11 likes

The delivery companies need to be forced to take responsibility. A huge number of delivery riders are recent immigrants who don't have a clue what the regulations are, and just do what everyone else is doing. They shouldn't be riding around on illegal bikes, but until the delivery companies are made culpable for their riders, the police are going to be fighting a losing battle.

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lesterama replied to AidanR | 3 months ago
4 likes

I know people who have signed up to a certain delivery company as cyclists, and who then use their car for deliveries. Fat chance they'll regulate their riders unless they're really forced to.

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henryb | 3 months ago
14 likes

A similar argument can be directed at 'L-plate' moped riders doing food deliveries. In what other area of commerce is it acceptable to have someone delivering a service using potentially dangerous machinery that they are neither trained nor qualified to use?

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Nagai74 replied to henryb | 3 months ago
7 likes

And quite probably not insured for delivering food. Having seen the cost of insurance with a full licence, I'd imagine that getting that insurance without a full licence would be ridiculous. 

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mattw replied to Nagai74 | 3 months ago
4 likes

If they are not EAPCs they are mpeds or motorcycles, so of course they need registration, insurance and safety gear.

Lack of insurance means they can be seized on the spot.

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Rat West replied to mattw | 3 months ago
0 likes

And, bizarrely, when they reach three years old, they need an MOT. !!

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Adam Sutton replied to henryb | 3 months ago
6 likes

There is a big problem here with moped deliveroo/uber eats riders using footpaths as a cut throughs. 

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