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Latest city introduces anti-cycling rules as controversial e-bike ban brought in

The council's Director of Transport admitted "ideally we would have" provided "a clearly defined network of paths that are suitable for cyclists" first, but said the "serious public safety issue" also needed addressing...

Cyclists riding e-bikes in Coventry's city centre will soon face fines after the council passed a controversial Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) preventing e-bike use in pedestrianised areas, a measure the West Midlands' Walking and Cycling Commissioner last week slammed as "reckless" and something that will "discourage cycling and penalise responsible cyclists".

Coventry City Council passed the ban at a meeting yesterday, Coventry Live reports, and it will come into effect in two weeks' time (20 November), banning e-bikes and e-scooters from being ridden in the city's pedestrianised areas, including the Upper Precinct, Hertford Street, Broadgate square and most of the lower precinct and Market Way.

Councillors supportive of the move said it was in reaction to people riding "too fast" and making pedestrians "scared for themselves" and for "the safety of their children". However, the ban has been criticised in some quarters, the West Midlands' Walking and Cycling Commissioner suggesting it would "bring unintended consequences for active travel overall", such as risking to "sever" important cycle routes, forcing cyclists onto more dangerous routes.

The ban comes 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.

Cllr Abdul Khan who supported the ban said there is a need to stop people riding "too fast".

"Nothing in this report should be construed by anybody to take the view that we are suggesting in any way that e-scooters are legal, because they're not," he said. "I want to also make clear as well that nothing in this report affects the use of any disabled vehicles, and they should be able to be used by disabled people. They have an exemption in those cases.

"But in respect to all of these forms of transport, we're asking or advising everybody to use them in a manner which does not cause other pedestrians in the centre to be afraid."

The PSPO offers exemption to those using e-bikes as a mobility aid, campaign group for disabled people cycling Wheels for Wellbeing previously expressing concerns that the ban could disadvantage disabled cyclists and deter them from visiting the city centre.

The council says signs will be put up at pinch points and cycle parking facilities, with delivery riders also to be contacted about the new rules.

Cllr Jim O'Boyle said the council "should not tolerate any dangerous riding or driving of any vehicle of any sort in and around pedestrian areas or our public highway".

"Unintended consequences"

However, while the new proposal sees the council walk back on its initial plans to ban all cycles from Coventry city centre, Walking and Cycling Commissioner Tranter nevertheless responded to the report last week by arguing 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".

"In September 2023, I wrote to Coventry City Council to highlight my concerns that their original proposed amendment to their Public Space Protection Order would discourage cycling and penalise disabled people who use cycles as a mobility aid," Tranter said in a statement.

"In my role, it is my priority to work to protect pedestrians but I do not feel that the proposed amendment to the PSPO will achieve this and will bring with it many unintended consequences. As a regular visitor on foot to Coventry City Centre, I too know that there are problems particularly relating to the anti-social use of illegally modified e-bikes.

"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.

"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."

Coventry Bicycle Mayor Adam Tranter cycling past the city's cathedral

He continued: "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.

"This week I have again written to the council urging them to amend the draft PSPO wording to only include e-bikes that do not require pedalling to operate and/or have the ability to be electrically assisted to a speed greater than 15.5mph.

"I believe this would achieve the council's stated objectives and ensure responsible cyclists using EPACs (electrically assisted pedal cycles) are not unduly penalised."

Despite the suggestion the PSPO, as agreed yesterday, simply states that...

Any person is prohibited from riding, cycling, or using an E-bike or E-scooter, within the protected area shown on the attached map.

Unless: 1. that person has a reasonable excuse for failing to do so; or 2. the owner, occupier or other person or authority having control of the land has consented (generally or specifically) to that person failing to do so.

Any person may push and walk alongside their E-bike, or E-scooter through the defined area.

Exemption: Nothing in this order applies to a person who uses a mobility scooter for access reasons or a person who uses an E-bike or E-scooter as a mobility aid and cannot safely dismount and push a cycle for any significant distance, but these persons must use these aids in a careful and considerate manner.

Such PSPOs are nothing new of course, last February cyclists in Bedford staging 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".

> More cyclists fined for riding bikes through town centre – months on from rider ordered to pay £1,100

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.

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63 comments

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Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
2 likes

An example of the misunderstanding of the different types of bikes here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-67380021

"Electric motorbikes - or 'e-bikes'" - a distinction is made later in the article but the headline and opening sentence show the lack of differentiation between legal and illegal that leads to blanket bans such as the one about to be imposed in Coventry.

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Sriracha replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
1 like

"Communities want action but officers are cautious and aware of the risks."
"In Cardiff, a [community] riot broke out in May after two teenagers died riding an electric motorbike [following police action]- a Sur-Ron."

The responsability for and solutions to these problems lie primarily with the parent/s of the offenders. There is no way the kids have access to these machines without their parent's connivance.

The "communities" must also harbour the knowledge of which families have these bikes, so the police ought not need to play cat and mouse to sieze the machines.

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chrisonabike replied to Sriracha | 3 months ago
3 likes

So much to unpack in this article but my main thought was:

How does the word "electric" change anything?

I've lived somewhere where for many years there have been kids riding illegally on scrambler bikes. Some of the bikes were also not road legal (no plates), some may have had plates.

There has been at least one death of someone *not on a motorbike* (which doesn't seem to have been mentioned in the article, though sadly it may happen).

I've watched the police have rings run round then on a couple of occasions in the middle of town, and a cyclists' (unpowered) bike get smashed into.

Nothing new. And - at least in England - I believe police do have powers to physically stop riders, albeit I understand they may be cautious about doing that.

Kids on motorbike is an issue - but how is the electric bike factor more than a buzzword here?

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Sriracha replied to chrisonabike | 3 months ago
1 like

All true - the trouble for cyclists is the (perverse) linkage via the mischievous use of words. Language trammels thought. E-bikes ...

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Rendel Harris replied to chrisonabike | 3 months ago
2 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:

Kids on motorbike is an issue - but how is the electric bike factor more than a buzzword here?

I would imagine a significant factor in terms of lawbreakers is the lower maintenance required for an electric motorcycle and especially the fact that it can be refuelled at home rather than the rider being exposed to potential arrest and/or seizure by having to go to, and stop at, a petrol station. I think the proliferation has also been aided by a feeling (quite wrong, of course) amongst the riders and probably their parents that this isn't really breaking the law like having a petrol motorcycle without a plate, licence or insurance, it's only really a souped up bicycle.

 

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chrisonabike replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
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I'm sure that is a factor. We may see *more* for the reasons you've given.

Also agree that sadly media and popular opinion is quite happy to lump EAPCs and electric motorbikes together, probably a symptom of the whole area being out of government control.

However it was already happening years back in Edinburgh on ICE bikes. As always there is stealing and joyriding of course - but there was a group regularly about breaking any number of laws riding dangerously using scrambler bikes*. A year or so back they even made a few raids into the centre of Edinburgh (another apology, tabloid language...)

Someone owned, maintained and fueled them...

So more "social issue we have had for ages, with newsworthy factor because new power source"?

* sorry - not knowledgeable in motor bikes / they went too fast to get models! Nor of course ages - but a) there were some small riders and b) there were some very young- looking lads hanging about for a go when they did displays on the roads around the neighbourhood...

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Sriracha replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
2 likes

I see they have changed the wording! Headline and opening paragraph now refer to e/motorbikes:

Quote:

Illegal e-motorbike riders 'goading' police, force says.
Electric motorbikes may be an increasingly popular way to get around but have been blamed for terrorising neighbourhoods with anti-social and dangerous riding.

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Rendel Harris replied to Sriracha | 3 months ago
1 like

That's good – maybe the powers that be at the BBC read road.cc!

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AReadman | 3 months ago
6 likes

How many people have died from ebikes in Coventry versus deaths from cars in Coventry? Any?

Surely all cars should be banned in Coventry to procted pedestrians and cyclists, a main victim of cars. Fair play please.

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Crankwinder | 3 months ago
2 likes

Here's a taste of the future, if those who argue for an increase in the power and speed limits get their way. E-bike bans will proliferate, as is already happening in USA, where e-bikes are allowed three times as much power up to 20mph. The only way to fight these bans is to stick to our European 250W & 15.5mph limits and encourage rigorous enforcement of them.

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hawkinspeter replied to Crankwinder | 3 months ago
3 likes
Crankwinder wrote:

Here's a taste of the future, if those who argue for an increase in the power and speed limits get their way. E-bike bans will proliferate, as is already happening in USA, where e-bikes are allowed three times as much power up to 20mph. The only way to fight these bans is to stick to our European 250W & 15.5mph limits and encourage rigorous enforcement of them.

I find it ironic that one of the smallest and lightest vehicles on the roads are subject to so much power restriction and demand for legislation (likely due to the lack of insurance and registrationi). Even the smallest car has no such power restriction and to my mind the biggest issue is that car drivers can drive without paying any attention to what they are doing, whereas two-wheeled vehicles require a minimum amount of focus to keep your balance.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
2 likes

"You were going quite a speed sir. We'll need to check what category of legs you're licensed to operate."

Same as bikes - it's because "in pedestrian space". And that is only the case because we don't believe in* space for cycling. Which - just like motor vehicles - needs to be (very clearly) separated from the footway.

What's that? No, cars drive on the *road* so obviously there aren't the same concerns ... (and we've learned to stay out of the way of cars)

EDIT obviously the above is ironic but clearly the thought process for many. Also looks like a balrog has reappeared in some other threads, oh well.

* Or can't find space / money for it - which actually is the same thing; ultimately these are justifications given for a choice or belief.

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Sriracha replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

two-wheeled vehicles require a minimum amount of focus to keep your balance

"...you may think that the human rider is what keeps a bicycle balanced..."
https://www.wtamu.edu/~cbaird/sq/mobile/2013/04/18/what-keeps-a-bicycle-...
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9ewqeheLL_I

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barbarus | 3 months ago
0 likes

Here's a few hot takes from me:

As we go into the "post car" era, the line between what is a taxed, insured, registered (in theory) heavy fast vehicle and a non taxed, non insured light vehicle is going to get blurred.

Things that are at all points between a Citroen Ami and an EPAC are going to proliferate.

Cargo and commuter ebikes will begin to be offered with more weather protection and crash safety kit, making them heavier. In other words, hybrid electric/pedal vehicles will mirror car development.

All of this is basically a good thing that will increase accessibility and reduce congestion, improve air quality and lower cost in the urban transport space.

But the transition period will be difficult and it will no longer be true to simply say "bicycle collisions are of such low mass and speed that they rarely cause injury".

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chrisonabike replied to barbarus | 3 months ago
4 likes
barbarus wrote:

Here's a few hot takes from me: As we go into the "post car" era...

WHOA!  Missed that - what is this?  When is that going to happen?

I mean - they've been working on reducing motor traffic in the Netherlands for (insert any amount of time but the late 70s was a turning point) years and while cycling is mainstream and they've got great integrated public transport they're certainly nowhere near "post car".

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barbarus replied to chrisonabike | 3 months ago
0 likes

When I say post car, I mean that the traditional ICE car in cities is on borrowed time. It might be 50 years, it might be 10. But it will happen.

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chrisonabike replied to barbarus | 3 months ago
1 like

Well that sounds like "we're going to have everything fixed by (variable length of time but certainly after I'm no longer in charge and probably when I'm safely dead)".

Isn't the traditional ICE car being replaced though - by the radically different electric car?  It's much more space efficient is so light it does no road damage It has zero emissions emits a bit less, elsewhere (apart from particulates from tyres and braking)!  It is much more pleasant to be around isn't smoky and totally silent is (possibly worryingly) quiet when starting off but has the same road noise when up to speed.

I'm sure the car manufacturers would prefer to go on making the same vehicles, but I don't think their shareholders are quavering yet.

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barbarus replied to chrisonabike | 3 months ago
1 like

Hey, I didn't say what I would like to see, just what I think will probably happen. But like I said, it's a hot take, so probably I will be entirely wrong! I have a woeful record of clairvoyance.

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chrisonabike replied to barbarus | 3 months ago
1 like

I hope I was just debating your prediction, not suggesting you desired a particular outcome.  Likely we're all mistaken - if only because something completely unexpected happens and totally reframes debates.

Given cars have bulked up (some debate about this but even in the last decade it seems there is evidence) I suspect that we'll see the same with other private transport e.g. bikes - if they become more popular.

As you point out people have been raised on cars which have ever more features (weather protection, "safety" and entertainment, and the bigger motors to shift the greater weight with more feeling of dispatch).  Firms will obviously seek to meet (and encourage) these wants, even in another platform.  And the firms have grown for generations by selling cars (as has the built environment) so are likely to produce alternatives shaped by them.

In the UK though unless we sort out environments which feel safe and are convenient to cycle in I don't see much changing.  And that process could certainly be done faster in the UK (e.g. we could start!) but is not rapid.

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Muddy Ford | 3 months ago
7 likes

Ok, for fairness and equality, they should ban all motorised vehicles from the roads in Coventry where there are also expected to be cyclists and pedestrians. Because it is also frightening and a serious safety issue with speeding motorists. If facts were needed to support this, there are far more incidents of motorised vehicles smashing into pedestrians and cyclists than there are e-cyclists smashing into pedestrians. 

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Crashb69 | 3 months ago
0 likes

I think the main thing people have forgotten they are cycling on pavements so enforce NO cycling for all bikes and not just ebikes. We don't belong on pavements stick to cycle paths or the road simple. And yes I do ride and commute to work.

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Rendel Harris replied to Crashb69 | 3 months ago
6 likes
Crashb69 wrote:

I think the main thing people have forgotten they are cycling on pavements so enforce NO cycling for all bikes and not just ebikes. We don't belong on pavements stick to cycle paths or the road simple.

You've grabbed the wrong end of the stick pretty solidly there, this has nothing to do with cycling on pavements, it's about cycling in pedestrianised areas, i.e. roads that have been closed to motor vehicles. In this case all cyclists were permitted in these areas but now it's been limited to unpowered only. 100% legal and widely permitted in many areas around the UK.

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Pedal those squares | 3 months ago
1 like

Is there anything that allows them to confiscate illigal ebikes?

It would only take a few weekends and the illigal ebikes would stop going through the centre.

Most illegal ebikes are very easy to spot...not all but most.

The delivery drivers will soon put the word out to each other to NOT go around the city centre.

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mattw replied to Pedal those squares | 3 months ago
4 likes
Pedal those squares wrote:

Is there anything that allows them to confiscate illigal ebikes?

It would only take a few weekends and the illigal ebikes would stop going through the centre.

Most illegal ebikes are very easy to spot...not all but most.

The delivery drivers will soon put the word out to each other to NOT go around the city centre.

Of course - they require insurance and on't have any is the usual one.

This is a police power, and one alleged reason for change is stretched resources.

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Rendel Harris replied to Pedal those squares | 3 months ago
8 likes
Pedal those squares wrote:

Is there anything that allows them to confiscate illigal ebikes?

It would only take a few weekends and the illigal ebikes would stop going through the centre.

Yes there is, and the same applies to escooters: in 2021 the Met police confiscated nearly 4000 illegal escooters in London. As you say, it wouldn't take much to get the message out there that people with illegal machines would be in trouble, unfortunately the police don't seem to be interested except when involved in specific targeted operations. There's a Pret A Manger at the end of my road which usually has half a dozen Deliveroo riders waiting outside (as a sidenote, when did we become so lazy as a society that it's acceptable to pay somebody else to go and get coffee and sandwiches for you?), all with blatantly illegal ebikes with the tell-tale dinnerplate-sized hub motors. Throughout the day police officers stop to pick up coffee and snacks, walking past this display of illegal machines without ever stopping to speak to the riders, let alone confiscate their bikes.

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mattw | 3 months ago
3 likes

I think we must give Coventry credit for trying more carefully than all the other places with PSPOs that were written by lobotomised sea-slugs.

And I see that Adam Tranter (WM Cycling and Walking Commissioners) has confirmed that pedal cycles are allowed, which is a good.

It remains to be seen whether the Council recognise that pedelecs are pedal cycles by law. 

Half a step forward, but some people will be abused / bullied by Council enforcers, and PSPOs still need a root and branch redefintion..

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Sredlums | 3 months ago
4 likes

E-bikes are f*cking up cycling as we knew it, in many different ways, and this is just one example of it.

Traditional cycling has its limitations. It demands a certain amount of physical activity, no matter how leisurly you ride. The distances you can reasonably travel in comfort are limited, as is the amount of cargo (be that groceries, kids or whatever).

Adding assistence seems like a good idea, as it pushes those limits. You can go further, with less trouble, and cargo bikes let you bring loads of cargo.
But it's a slippery slope, because without the natural limits, they will be pushed further and further and further. And that will have many undesirable consequences.

We will regret it when it's too late.

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TempleOrion replied to Sredlums | 3 months ago
5 likes

Fallacy piled on false assumption piled on utter stupidity.

Do you propose banning all ebikes in future? FFS 🙄

And no, I don't have one BTW.

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Flintshire Boy replied to TempleOrion | 3 months ago
7 likes

.

You might have a point.

.

Pity you couldn't make it in a civilised manner.

.

 

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Sredlums replied to TempleOrion | 3 months ago
2 likes

Fallacy, false assumption, stupidity.
If that is the case, surely you can point them out, right? Now it's just you talking tough.

Also, no, I do not propose banning all ebikes. Don't put words in my mouth ('FFS'). I know damn well they are not going away. I'm just voicing my concerns about them.

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