A father from Burton-on-Trent has been fined £100 for carrying his two-year-old son on his bicycle, with the youngster sitting on a seat that had been bought from Halfords, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Ghullam Murtza, aged 26, was issued with a fixed penalty notice for carrying more than one person on his bike after officers stopped him when he was cycling through the Staffordshire town with his son. He angrily ripped the ticket in two – so he got a fine for littering, too.
He was subsequently prosecuted at Burton Magistrates’ Court under section 24 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, which says that “Not more than one person may be carried on a road on a bicycle not propelled by mechanical power unless it is constructed or adapted for the carriage of more than one person.”
Mr Murtza pleaded guilty and was fined £100 for that offence, and also had to pay court costs plus a £15 victim surcharge.
However, he pointed out afterwards: “I have been riding like this for 13 months and the police have never told me it was not safe. It took this one officer, who had nothing better to do, who decided to arrest me.”
While the case is unlikely to set a legal precedent, news of it could cause alarm among parents who carry their children on their bikes. Indeed, quite why the prosecution was brought in the first place remains unclear, and may have more to do with Mr Murta ripping up his ticket than the severity of his perceived offence.
It’s also unclear why Mr Murtza entered a guilty plea – a taxi driver by trade, perhaps he thought it best to get the matter settled as quickly as possible so he could get back to work – but for the police, that in itself is enough to bring the issue to a close.
Quoted in the Telegraph, Chief Inspector Phil Fortun, who heads the East Staffordshire Local Policing Team, said: “It is our duty to protect people and ensure the safety of the communities we serve.
"The bicycle was not made to carry a child in that way and officers took action to protect the young child from potential injury or worse, should the bike have been involved in a collision.
“The bike's owner was well-meaning in his efforts, but misguided with regards to the safety of himself and his son.”
“The gentleman concerned admitted the offences when he appeared before magistrates in Burton. He has subsequently been dealt with by the court, receiving a fine. We do not wish to add anything further to the statement.”
Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of sustainable transport charity Sustrans, expressed his surprise at the prosecution, saying: “The most important thing is that it is a proper seat that has been fitted properly. We want kids on their bikes and we don't want incidents like this to put parents off carrying their children.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.