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Mayor fined €100 for riding on street where cycling is banned by the council, while shooting ‘cycle to work’ video to encourage cycling in Barcelona

“Can you take this opportunity to remove the bans?” replied one cyclist under the video initially shared as a promotion for World Bicycle Day, but ended up receiving a Community Note on Twitter

Barcelona’s mayor has agreed to pay a fine of €100 after he was filmed riding on a street where cycling is prohibited as part of a social media video posted on World Bicycle Day to encourage more people to cycle.

The video was shared by Jaume Collboni, the Socialists’ Party of Catalonia politician who was elected as the mayor of Barcelona last year to mark World Bicycle Day on Monday, in which he can be seen riding Bicing bike to encourage people to use the city’s cycle sharing system as an alternative mode of transport.

“Join us by bike to the City Hall,” says Collboni before setting off from the Passeig Marítim Boulevard beach on the electric bikes and ending at the Casa de la Ciudad de Barcelona. He was accompanied in his commute by the Sports Councillor David Escudé.

However, the video drew controversy for other reasons, as the duo were seen cycling on Avinyó Street in the Gothic quarter, where the city council, like in other parts of the district, requires cyclists and scooter users to get off their vehicles and continue.

The Twitter video was also hit with a Community Note — the social media platform’s latest feature to point out anomalies or inconsistencies, saying: “It is not allowed to ride a bicycle on Carrer Avinyó, one of the streets that appear in the video. Cyclists can be fined.”

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After “recognising the error”, Catalunya Ràdio reported that the mayor “showed his interest” in paying the fine. On Tuesday, municipal sources confirmed that Collboni had directly processed with the Urban Guard the corresponding payment of a penalty which, according to article 71 of the pedestrian and vehicle traffic ordinance, amounts to 100 euros, but reduced to 50 euros for prompt payment, with Escudé following suit.

Meanwhile, Laia Bonet, the Barcelona City Council’s councillor for urbanism, told journalists that the government is planning to scrap such prohibition, but it “still has not happened”.

She added that a review process of the controversial signage had been initiated by the council in January, and they already have a plan in place to remove those that “do not make sense” to keep, which includes removing the cycling ban on Avinyó Street.

Cyclists in the comments did not let this opportunity slip out of their hands, with many asking the mayor to swiftly get rid of the cycling ban. “Since you are riding on Carrer Avinyó where it is not allowed, can you take the opportunity to remove the bans?” wrote Eduard Folch, the President of the Federation for Bicycle Mobility of Catalonia.

Another Catalan cyclist said: “We celebrate seeing the mayor and councillor cycling to work. Now, it is curious that he drives precisely through one of the streets where you make cyclists get off their bikes, demonstrating the incongruity of the rule.

“We said a long time ago that on Ciutat Vella streets where motor vehicles can drive, it made no sense for cyclists to get off and push. And Jaume Collboni and David Escudé have shown it to us. Thank you very much for supporting the claim.”

Meanwhile, another Twitter user accused Collboni of “caring very little about the bike”, and instead belonging to the “car and smoke market”.

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Just earlier this week, Labour’s shadow secretary for transport, Louise Haigh who became the cycling’s latest high-profile convert in the country after making some very controversial comments about cycling, shared a picture of herself riding a bike to mark World Bicycle Day.

She said that if elected in the upcoming general elections on 4th July, Labour will offer support to local authorities to “provide the safe, accessible cycling infrastructure that is right for their areas – so that everyone who wants to cycle can”.

While most people welcomed the gesture and supported her for supporting cyclists, some sceptics considered the post as another photo-op before the elections and added that “support” was in fact a hollow backing and didn’t mean much given how deeply entrenched motonormativity is in the British society, and instead asked for concrete plans to improve cycling and walking to reverse the Tory government’s repeated slashings of the active travel budget amidst all the anti-cycling rhetoric.

With the infamous and highly controversial Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), designed to prevent anti-social behaviour has been frequently used by many councils to slap cyclists with hefty fines in the last few years, cyclists being fined for just riding their bikes is hardly anything new, unfortunately.

But perhaps one of the most bizarre reports of the PSPO fines came in April this year, when a cyclist in Colchester was left stunned after she was handed a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice by a council warden who claimed that the cyclist was “riding on the footpath” – despite the path in question being designated as a shared-use cycle route since 2011.

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

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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.

Nevertheless, the 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”.

Colchester’s “rogue” council wardens made headlines last month once again when they were 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”.

Adwitiya joined 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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andystow | 1 month ago
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"He was accompanied in his commute by the Sports Councillor David Escudé, with Collboni opting for a helmet, while Escudé opting to go without."

Um, both gentlemen in the video appear to be wearing helmets.

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