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

A cyclist injured in a collision with a rider travelling the wrong way along a two-lane cycle path said he regularly sees couriers "come down the cycle lane at full chap", the police admitting that some are "absolutely" not using legal bikes...

Cycling Scotland has called on food delivery companies to provide couriers "effective training around cycling safety" and check the bikes they ride "are legal and road worthy". The comments come as a Glasgow cyclist says 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.

The discussion surrounds the use of powerful electric bicycles that are actually legally classed as like petrol-powered mopeds, not electrically assisted pedal cycles which are only allowed to assist the person up to the speed of 15.5mph (25km/h). The general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation admitted to BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime programme that "there is not enough police officers on the street to deal with" people riding bikes that are not legal.

The result is that in many urban areas couriers and other people can be seen riding 'e-bikes' that are actually closer to mopeds and that require a licence, tax and insurance, a helmet, and that can only be ridden on roads or unrestricted byways.

> "You're just collateral" — Ultra-cycling legend Steve Abraham on Deliveroo and the gig economy, plus road.cc staffers' go-to bike tools on the road.cc podcast

Speaking to the BBC, Cycling Scotland's road safety manager Simon Bradshaw said food delivery companies need to do more to check their riders' bikes "to make sure that they are legal".

Modified e-bike (Devon and Cornwall Police)

The comments come after the news outlet also heard from Ben Williams, a 24-year-old PhD student studying in Glasgow, who suffered a torn kidney in a crash caused by a courier riding at around 15mph the wrong way along a two-lane cycle path.

"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," he said. "I'm terrified of them, the amount of times I have had an 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."

> London Fire Brigade speaking to Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats in bid to raise awareness of e-bike charging dangers

Mr Bradshaw of Cycling Scotland said responsiblity should fall on delivery companies to ensure riders are using "legal" bikes and are properly trained on "cycling safety".

"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."

Mountain bike modified (West Sussex Police/Twitter)

Commenting on the situation, the Scottish Police Federation general secretary David Kennedy suggested people assume if they can buy something then it must be legal, "not realising no in actual fact it's legal to buy it — but not use it on the road".

> Canterbury City Council to clamp down on "reckless" food delivery riders

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

Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats all responded similarly to the comments, stating that safety was a priority, Deliveroo saying 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.

For more electric bike news, reviews and buying advice, check out our sister website e-bike tips...

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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43 comments

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David9694 replied to chrisonabike | 5 months ago
1 like

Another jealousy-inducing Not Just Bikes video from Holland/ Europe.

https://nebula.tv/ Sounds interesting too ($5 / month) for his algorithm unfriendly videos. 

 

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chrisonabike replied to David9694 | 5 months ago
1 like

OTOH between David Hembrow, BicycleDutch and many others you could probably spend the rest of your life relaxing for free to blissfully uneventful videos of everyone in the Netherlands going about their normal lives, sometimes cycling* as part of getting about...  (you could donate if you wanted to BicycleDutch or Jason @ notjustbikes too).

* "cyclist" is still maybe a trigger for too many in the UK for it to be a great translation of "fietser".  On the other hand (wonderfully) it's not just bikes (bicycles) over there.

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Simon E replied to Oldfatgit | 5 months ago
2 likes

Oldfatgit wrote:

Takeaways are already facing increased costs with trying to meet reduced plastics. Food trays that were costing pennies an item and made from plastics are being replaced with ones made from cornstarch - at [if I remember right] around 25p per item ... so that's 25p straight on the cost of your burger. These trays still have to go to landfill - just like the 100% recyclable - pizza boxes as once they have been used and had grease / cooking oils / fats in them, they can't be recycled.

Nearly all corn or potato starch items are commercially compostable. Same with cardboard - in Shropshire it gets composted, not recycled.

I'd suggest that the businesses need to either raise their prices, just as they do when any other cost goes up, or change their business model.

All these firms have been happy enough to use non-biodegradable plastics, including the non-recyclable expanded polystyrene, they don't give a toss about landfill, recycling or the environment, they just leave the mountain of rubbish out for the council to deal with.

And their customers do the same. Takeway food packaging is one of the most frequently found items of roadside waste around here.

Add in cans (most often Red Bull, Coke, beer) and bottles (Lucozade, mainstream fizzy pop brands), almost all of which were bought at the local supermarket or chippy as takeaway eat-on-the-move items before being tossed from car windows. It's not hard to see where the problem lies.

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ktache replied to Simon E | 5 months ago
1 like

Paper, card and specifically newsprint make for better packaging for most takeaways, less sweaty for fried goods.

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matthewn5 replied to Oldfatgit | 5 months ago
1 like

Oldfatgit wrote:

These trays still have to go to landfill - just like the 100% recyclable - pizza boxes as once they have been used and had grease / cooking oils / fats in them, they can't be recycled.

Yeah but at least they will rot away in weeks unlike the plastic that'll last 1,000 years.

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wookey replied to Oldfatgit | 5 months ago
0 likes

This isn't true. Pizza boes are fine in the cardboard recyclingso long as you've eaten the pizza. And cornstarch trays are fine in the food waste/composting bin. So please stop a) landfilling yours as you are defeating their purpose and b) spreading misinformation.

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festina replied to Oldfatgit | 5 months ago
1 like

Probably true. Car driving public will just see them as cyclists (even though they are motorbikes) and Sunak will pick it up in retaliation against the war on motorists.

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giff77 replied to Oldfatgit | 5 months ago
1 like

Shouldn't be that difficult. The delivery riders tend to hang about in groups. There's a large contingent at W Nile St/Gordon Street in Glasgow. I'm sure Polis Scotland could send some of their finest to check the bikes etc. Heck. It wouldn't even be difficult to hang around the various food shops and nail them. 

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OldRidgeback | 5 months ago
6 likes

Some of the shonky e-bikes the food delivery riders I see using are in a desperate state. It's pretty obvious when they've been adapted as they'll have extra batteries and will be whizzing along without the rider needing to pedal. The cops don't seem to bother.

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Brauchsel replied to OldRidgeback | 5 months ago
3 likes

Indeed. I was nearly taken out (as a pedestrian) on a zebra crossing yesterday: was halfway across when my peripheral vision suggested I should stop. It turned out the (unlit, at night) bike I'd seen some way away was actually doing something like 25mph, the rider wasn't pedalling and made no attempt to slow let alone stop. I could have touched his Deliveroo backpack as he passed me. (Ironically enough, I did have hi-vis on myself).  

Leaving aside the lack of lights and caution at a crossing, there's no way the bike was legal. The delivery riders congregate in a couple of places (near the takeaways funnily enough), and it would be 30 mins work for the police (who often frequent said takeaways) to check a bunch of vehicles and remove the ones that aren't legally allowed on the roads. But they won't, until someone inevitably gets badly hurt. 

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ROOTminus1 | 5 months ago
7 likes

Asking private companies to do the right thing because the Police are under-resourced to actually enforce the law?

That's going to fix everything [\s]

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Steve K replied to ROOTminus1 | 5 months ago
3 likes

ROOTminus1 wrote:

Asking private companies to do the right thing because the Police are under-resourced to actually enforce the law? That's going to fix everything [\s]

As a general principle, I agree with your point here.  But specifically in this business model, the companies should be forced to take more responsibility.

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AidanR | 5 months ago
10 likes

"offered equipment to ensure they are visible to all road users" = a reflective Deliveroo branded jacket

It's time that there was a proper crackdown on food delivery companies, which take zero responsibility for their riders. They make vague noises about requiring them to abide by the law but do nothing to ensure that happens and treat them like commodities.

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