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Bedford cycling ban extended for another three years

Controversial PSPO is being enforced ever more vigorously by private contractor

Bedford Borough Council has confirmed that its controversial Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) that bans cycling in the town centre will continue for another three years. The Bedford Independent reports that the majority of 215 respondents to a consultation on the matter said they thought it should remain in place.

Bedford is one of a number of towns to have a PSPO with cycling not permitted in certain parts of the town centre between 9am and 6pm.

PSPOs have drawn criticism from Cycling UK for the way in which they target cycling as a whole rather than only those who cause a danger or nuisance through the manner of their cycling.

In February, round-the-world cyclist Josh Quigley was handed a £75 fine for riding his bike in Bedford, not realising it was an offence.

Earlier this week, BBC broadcaster Jeremy Vine offered to pay the fine of a woman who was booked for cycling, reasoning, “I don't want her to be put off cycling for a second.”

Since January 2018, enforcement of the PSPO has been contracted out to Kingdom Securities, a private firm that is also responsible for enforcement of a similar PSPO in Peterborough.

In Peterborough Kingdom has raked in over £80,000 in fines for unauthorised cycling. Similarly, the number of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) issued in Bedford rose six-fold in just nine months from 181 in January 2018 to 1,127 in September 2018.

There have also been accusations of heavy-handed enforcement. Peter Blakeman of the Cycling Campaign for North Bedfordshire said that, “a number of reports were heard of the aggressive behaviour of the officers towards the elderly and foreign visitors.”

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