A controversial ban on e-bikes in certain pedestrianised parts of Coventry city centre has come into force, the deputy leader of the council warning that riders can expect strict enforcement.
The new ruling, which prohibits e-bikes and e-scooters being ridden through sections of the city centre, was approved last month, Coventry City Council passing a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) despite protestations from the West Midlands' walking and cycling commissioner Adam Tranter who argued such a ban would "discourage cycling and penalise responsible cyclists".
Following an education period, during which Coventry Live reports officers from city organisations have been visiting "a large number of takeaway businesses in the city centre and spoken to delivery riders on e-bikes", enforcement is now expected to be ramped up.
Cllr Abdul Salam Khan, who argued in favour of the PSPO as a means of tackling people riding "too fast", confirmed that enforcement will now "be increasing".
"There has been an indication that the message is getting across to riders," he said. "But enforcement action will be increasing. It is a partnership effort, all with the aim of protecting pedestrians in the city centre.
"We want to encourage different forms of sustainable transport across the city, but every traffic user needs to take responsibility, and not be a risk to others. We will also be clamping down on any cases of reckless behaviour on both manual cycles and scooters."
On top of the outright ban on riding an e-bike in certain areas, potentially resulting in a fixed penalty notice if caught, the PSPO also states that "any person riding a pedal cycle, skateboarding or riding a manual scooter must do so in a careful and considerate manner and must dismount if requested to do so by an enforcing officer when continuing to ride would cause a danger to the public or public offence. Failure to comply will leave them liable to enforcement."
The council has been keen to stress that disabled people using bicycles as mobility aids will not be impacted, but walking and cycling commissioner Tranter has argued that prohibiting the use of e-bikes – and not just illegally modified or non-pedal-assist forms of electric bike – will also "bring unintended consequences for active travel overall".
"But throughout this process, I have been clear that the council and police already have the powers to enforce against this as the existing PSPO states that any person cycling or skateboarding must do so in a careful and considerate manner," he said.
"The police have powers to deal with any person riding illegal vehicles, such as e-scooters or powerful e-bikes which do not conform to the Electrically assisted pedal cycle regulations 1983, and which are likely to be the cause of much of the public's concern.
"I am grateful to the council for taking some of my feedback on board as part of the consultation… The exemption from the PSPO of people using standard cycles and those using cycling as a mobility aid is welcome, however, the current recommendation for the approval next week will still ban the use of all e-bikes in the city centre core."
The ban came despite the council's own director of transport Colin Knight admitting that "ideally we would have" provided a "clearly defined network of paths that are suitable for cyclists" before banning e-bike riders from a large section of the city centre.
However, he said, "this is a serious public safety issue so we've absolutely got to address that" as well as working to offer "alternative routes" with funding from Active Travel England.
Such PSPOs are nothing new of course, last February cyclists in Bedford staged a protest ride aimed at a "discriminatory" town centre bike ban, while this summer Hammersmith and Fulham Council introduced an e-bike and e-scooter ban along part of the Thames Path.
A pensioner in Grimsby also made headlines when he told the council to stick its £100 fine for cycling in the town centre "up your a***", saying he would "rather go to prison than give them £100".
Last month, police in Nuneaton said they had asked the council to introduce a no cycle zone to cut out "really dangerous" cycling and "anti-social behaviour" in the shopping area, saying that "we get a lot of kids wheelie-ing through and it sets the wrong tone".
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.