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“Rogue” wardens accused of “lying in wait” for cyclists riding on pavement beside busy roundabout, as two cyclists fined £100 for breaching anti-social cycling order at same spot

The wardens belong to the same agency that mistakenly fined a female cyclist for riding on a shared-use path in the city earlier this year

“Rogue” wardens working for a local council have been accused of “lying in wait” to catch cyclists riding on the pavement, after two riders were recently fined £100 for briefly mounting a footpath to avoid navigating a notoriously busy roundabout and its “thick and fast motor traffic”, a penalty described by one of the cyclists involved as “unjustified” and “a bit farcical”.

The latest controversy surrounding Colchester’s Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), ostensibly to prevent anti-social, nuisance, and dangerous behaviour, comes just two months after female cyclist Helge Gillmeister was also slapped with the £100 fine for, according to the warden who stopped her, “riding on the footpath” – when, in fact, the path in question has been a shared-use cycle route since 2011.

Colchester Cycling Campaign – which has recently adopted a policy of non-cooperation with the council over the PSPO – says the recent surge in cycling-related Fixed Penalty Notices in the city (Dr Gillmeister’s fine was ultimately quashed) indicates that wardens contracted by the council “have found a rich seam for fines” by targeting “law-abiding” people on bikes.

The campaigners also questioned how “careful cycling on the footway” to avoid heavy traffic in a “car-oriented” city can be judged anti-social or dangerous.

“Are you being serious?”

One of the two cyclists who found themselves on the wrong end of an overzealous warden’s ticket machine last month, Stuart Braybrooke was cycling on Colchester’s Magdalen Street, on his way back to his office on Wednesday 24 April, when he was stopped by a warden, an employee of the Waste Investigations Support and Enforcement (WISE) agency, subcontracted by Colchester City Council.

Much to the surprise of Braybrooke, who by this point had jumped off his bike, the WISE warden issued him with a £100 penalty for breaching the PSPO, an increasingly popular (and controversial) method used by local authorities to clamp down on what they deem to be dangerous cycling, and one active travel charity Cycling UK says has the effect of criminalising the act of riding a bike.

Another Colchester-based cyclist, Thomas Roper, was also handed the £100 fine at the exact same spot beside St Botolph’s roundabout days later, with Roper appealing the decision only to have heard “not one single thing” from the council or WISE.

Magdalen Street, Colchester (Google)

“I was riding down Magdalen Street, which is pretty hairy at the best of times as you approach St Botolph’s roundabout,” Braybrooke told about the bizarre incident that led to his fine.

“I crossed over at the lights by the bus stop, outside the courts, and rolled down the hill from there. I came up on the pavement by the bus stop, and there’s a dropped kerb outside the station and the court. I was riding on the pavement for about ten metres.

“And as I got to the other side of that, where the underpass for the roundabout is, the guys from WISE were stood there and put their hands out to make sure no one got past, and I jumped off my bike.”

> “Why pick on a lone female cyclist?” Cyclist slapped with £100 fine – for riding on a cycle path

He continued: “At the time, actually, they were dealing with somebody else, who was giving them what for, to be honest! I got off my bike and thought they’ll notice I’m not riding it, and they’ll say, ‘make sure you push it around the corner’, or whatever.

“But they didn’t! They, almost without warning, said, ‘put your bike to the side’, and took a picture of the ID around my neck and asked for my details. One of them was saying some stuff, but I wasn’t really paying all that much attention, because the other guy was ripping into them, shouting ‘I don’t care!’ All this sort of stuff.

“I told them I was on my way back to the office from the university. Then he asked me for my date of birth and address – and I was thinking why do you want that? – and then he printed out a ticket! He said it was an offence to ride your bike on the pavement anywhere and it comes with a fixed penalty notice.

“I had thought they were just going to tell me to be a bit careful – but then he said it was a £100 fine! And I said, are you being serious?

“[Like Dr Gillmeister], I got caught off-guard, I didn’t know what was happening. I was in disbelief, genuinely shocked. I’m a pretty law-abiding guy, and I just assumed they’d tell me to be careful and be on my way. But then they gave me a £100 fine. It was very weird, and a bit farcical.”

Causing a nuisance or just getting from A to B?

Last autumn, Colchester City Council consulted on renewing its current PSPO, which covers the centre of the city and states that “using a skateboard, bicycle, scooter, skates, or any other self-propelled wheeled vehicle, including electric scooters, in such a manner as to cause or is likely to cause intimidation, harassment, alarm, distress, nuisance, or annoyance to any person”.

At the time of the consultation, activists within the Colchester Cycling Campaign raised concerns that that the term ‘annoyance’ could be used against ‘wrong-way’ cyclists who “merely want to go about their business as quickly and smoothly as possible”, something Stuart believes he was doing safely when he was stopped.

Head Street cycle lane, Colchester (Essex Highways)

> New protected cycle lane – in city where cyclist was fined for riding on bike path – slammed as “accident waiting to happen for pedestrians” that will “cause carnage on the roads”

“I was riding pretty slowly and I would have jumped off my bike anyway, as it’s a bit of a blind bend around there,” he tells “And the bottom of Queen Street is a one-way street, so you can’t ride your bike up it anyway.

“If the police issued you with a fine, and they’re allowed to use their discretion, for riding on the pavement, it would be a £30 fine. So where does this £100 come from? And the guy at WISE who I rang told me the council set the price, not the police.

“I also said, first thing, you need to tell me what you’re charging me with. And they told me the PSPO relates to people causing a nuisance or a disturbance – but no one cared that I was cruising along on my bike.

“No one actually cared at that point. Had someone gone ‘Oh shock, there’s someone on a bike and this is dangerous,’ then I’d have gone, fair enough, I’ve caused a shock and a nuisance. But I only caused a nuisance in the warden’s opinion, and they could have polled everyone on the street and no one would have thought that.”

In an email to WISE following the incident, Stuart said: “I used the pavement for safety because there were no safe cycle lanes and I had been knocked off my bike earlier this year. No damage or disturbance occurred, and the officer did not use discretion.”

Stuart also asked WISE for footage of the incident captured on a warden’s bodycam, but this request was declined, with the agency insisting that the camera is solely used to protect the safety of their officers.

WISE also told Stuart that they had reviewed the footage and deemed that the fine still stands. Braybrooke now plans to submit a data request to retrieve the footage and the officer’s witness statement, which he dismissed as “hearsay”.

“It is a criminal offence and a safety risk to pedestrians to ride a bicycle on the pavement,” a WISE staff member said in correspondence with Braybrooke, while also noting that there “are no formal grounds of appeal” against a Fixed Penalty Notice.

“Where’s innocent until proven guilty?” Stuart asks “If we review the video, I can prove that clearly I wasn’t riding reckless or dangerously, or even really on the pavement at that point, because I was on the dropped kerb.”

“I wasn’t riding a bike recklessly or dangerously, or being anti-social. It appears I was charged with an anti-social order, it wasn’t anti-social! I don’t feel like this is a justified penalty notice.”

The dead-end nature of the appeals process for Braybrooke was also reflected in his fellow cyclist Roper’s experience.

“I have emailed multiple times and have heard not one single thing,” Roper says about his experience dealing with WISE following his fine. “Nothing regarding my appeal, and nothing regarding my fine either. I’m not really sure what I am supposed to do!”

“A rich seam of fines”

The discrepancy between the wording of Colchester’s PSPO and its implementation by WISE has also been highlighted by the Colchester Cycling Campaign, who criticised the fines dished out to Braybrooke and Roper, while pointing out that such targeted campaigns by wardens will do little to help engender a cycling culture in the city.

The campaign group also noted that the recent spate of cycling-related fines appears solely to be the work of WISE, with a recent Freedom of Information request revealing that wardens directly employed by Colchester City Council are yet to issue any FPNs related to the new PSPO. The same FOI request also found that wardens cannot issue penalties for “riding the wrong way up a footpath”.


“We commented on the consultation for the second PSPO (we don’t believe there were any problems with PSPO1) and we raised a concern with the wording,” a Colchester Cycling Campaign spokesperson told

“We were assured at the time that it would be used only for ‘anti-social cyclists who ride their bikes at people’ and those who ‘cycle over flowerbeds’.

“Instead, cyclists who ride on the footway to avoid thick and fast motor traffic on St Botolph’s roundabout are being penalised for using the path. Have these wardens not heard about the Boateng defence? Can't they tell the difference between nuisance and anti-social behaviour?

“The fact that the latest two offences that we’ve heard about have occurred at the same spot suggests that these wardens have found a rich seam for fines and are lying in wait.

“As Stuart Braybrooke says, even if he encounters a pedestrian it is at most a nuisance for them. We don’t understand how careful cycling on the footway to avoid motor traffic in a car-orientated city — and giving way to pedestrians — can be judged anti-social.”

The spokesperson continued: “It would seem these wardens, who work for a company called WISE, are contracted by the city council but are separate to the city’s own wardens who have not issued any fixed penalty tickets against cyclists.

“Colchester council is very supportive of cycling in many areas – backing our cycle centre that includes a bike kitchen and cargo bike hire, for instance – but this PSPO is doing harm.

“By all means stop dangerous and aggressive cycling but don’t penalise ordinary people trying to go about their everyday business in a city whose cycling network is many years from being complete, where using a short section of usually empty footway rather than a dangerous, fast road is a reasonable option.

“Trying to engender a cycling culture is like raising delicate flowers yet we have these overzealous wardens trampling through our garden in their size 11s.”

> “Obstacle course” cycle junction a “ruse to drive motorists out of the town”, claim drivers – but cyclists praise long-awaited layout change

Colchester’s car-oriented approach highlighted by the campaign group is also underlined by Stuart’s chequered past with the city’s questionable cycling infrastructure, which saw him struck by a motorist while riding in a cycle lane, breaking his bike, before very narrowly missing another collision with a right-turning driver on the same road just a week later (and in-between those two incidents his just-repaired bike was stolen, to rub salt in the wound).

“After that, I was like, I’m not loving riding down these roads anymore,” he says. “Having had that experience, there doesn’t appear to be anywhere cyclists are safe on Magdalen Road and St Botolph’s roundabout. So, it doesn’t sit with me very nicely cycling in that part of town.”

“A kick in the knackers”

The Colchester cyclist also agrees with the campaigners who argue that the city’s apparent anti-cycling culture – embodied in not just the trigger-happy actions of its contracted wardens but also its outdated lack of bike-friendly infrastructure and plethora of one-way streets – is only serving to discourage, not encourage, people from riding their bikes in the city.

“I’m a middle-aged guy, I’m not streetwise but I’m not an idiot. I cycle for health and environmental benefits, and my kids ride every day, rain or shine. We love riding bikes. So this feels a bit like a kick in the knackers,” he says.

“They can say, oh you’re doing right by your health and the environment, cycling is the best form of travel, but we’re going to be really unaccommodating to you.

“And funnily enough, I was doing the same route the following week. And I pushed the bike – because St Botolph’s roundabout is not one you want to do on a bike, because it’s so imposing – exactly where they were stood the previous week.

“And believe it or not, I pushed it around the corner and fell over my own bike! And I nearly knocked into this woman – so I was much more of a danger pushing it than riding it.”

Head Street, Colchester (Colchester Cycling Campaign)

Reflecting on the recent plethora of cycling PSPO breaches in Colchester, Stuart added: “I felt at the time like I’d been a one-off and that I was really unlucky. But it kind of feels like they’re placed on the narrowest part of the footpath, they let the guy who was swearing because he refused to give them any details. He was actually being incredibly anti-social, whereas I was being completely compliant. So that felt unjustified.

“Then you hear it’s been happening to other people, and you think they’re targeting those who look like they’re quite law-abiding. They’re issuing them with fines and using the scarcity principle to say ‘pay it quickly or you’ll go to court’ – that threat targets people who are risk-averse and law-abiding, and catches them confused about the whole situation, like I was.

“It’s like a scam almost, like you’ve been caught out on a scam on holiday. I didn’t know anything about these people, I didn’t know about the PSPO, I ride my bike every single day and have done for years. And all of a sudden, these guys pop up to put a sticker on me as I’m riding past. So I felt a little bit targeted.

“I’ve got a bike bell, I’ve goy my helmet, lights, mudguards. It’s not like I’m raring around, being anti-social, I’m Captain Sensible! I’m well aware I’m sharing an area with people.

“These are basically rogue officers targeting law-abiding cyclists, and once your wheel hits the pavement that’s you done for, unless you’re pushing it.”

> Two cyclists ordered to pay £500 for riding bike through town centre, as councillor says local authority “will not simply look the other way” and that cyclists “have been rightly punished”

When approached for comment by, Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Goss, who is raising the issue in the local authority on behalf of the Colchester Cycling Campaign, said: “At this stage the matter is under investigation and as with all fixed penalty notices these are part of a legal process, so it is not appropriate to comment until the investigation is fully concluded.”

Shared cycle path along Southway, Colchester (Colchester Cycling Campaign)

As noted at the start of this article, both Braybrooke and Roper can take some heart from the recent experience of Helge Gillmeister, who was cycling home from work in March, along a path located next to the city’s busy Southway, when she was also issued with a £100 fine by a WISE employee for breaching the PSPO.

Describing her punishment as “ridiculous”, especially due to the presence of signs indicating the path’s shared-use status 30 yards from where she was stopped, Gillmeister quickly and successfully appealed the FPN, with the council agreeing to waive her fine.

That particular debacle inspired the Colchester Cycling Campaign to adopt a policy of “non-cooperation” with the council, while urging cyclists to refuse to give their names or addresses if stopped by wardens for riding their bikes in what campaigners have described as a “city designed for cars”.

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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Backladder replied to andystow | 1 month ago
1 like

andystow wrote:

Rendel Harris wrote:

No, they haven't, but they can take your photograph and supply it, along with bodycam footage, to the police...

But they said that the bodycam footage was only for their safety. They wouldn't lie about that, would they?

Don't be silly, how can a bodycam stop someone beating them up or running them over with a car, its only use is for identifying people!

Backladder replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago

Rendel Harris wrote:

the little onion wrote:

never, ever give your details to a private enforcement contractor. Just don't do it. Unless it's a police officer, just refuse

You are within your rights to do that with a private enforcement contractor with the important caveat that some, along with some traffic and community wardens, may be granted warrant cards by the local chief constable under the Police Reform Act 2002 which confer most of the powers of a police officer on a civilian operative, and they certainly have the right to demand details from a person whom they allege has committed an offence, and it is a further offence to refuse to divulge them, so before you ride away it's worth checking whether they have a warrant card otherwise you could get yourself in further trouble. 

Don't ask them if they have a warrant card, it will encourage them to go and get one. If they already have one then they should have it displayed when they ask you the question to indicate their right to an answer.

essexian | 1 month ago

That particular debacle inspired the Colchester Cycling Campaign to adopt a policy of “non-cooperation” with the council, while urging cyclists to refuse to give their names or addresses if stopped by wardens for riding their bikes in what campaigners have described as a “city designed for cars”.

I would go further. This Friday the Ride London Classique ends in Colchester. I would suggest that any serious cyclist refuses to enter Colchester and views the race from elsewhere.



lio replied to essexian | 1 month ago

Colchester is a "difficult" place to ride.

While I've watched many cycling events in the city I've always found the drivers there very aggressive. It's no surprise to me that Colchester council is anti-cycling.


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