City council told decluttering policy confuses cyclists

Cycling campaign group Pedals is urging Nottingham City Council to improve signage and route markings in the city centre to aid cyclists and help prevent them from inadvertently becoming liable to a £30 fixed penalty notice for riding where they shouldn’t.

Hugh McClintock, chairman of Pedals, told the Nottingham Evening Post: “People are not clear where they can go. You can't rely on them having local knowledge.”

The problem seems to stem in part from the council’s policy of trying not to clutter the city centre too much in terms of signs, with Mark Parkinson, Director of Transport Services, saying: “Because this is the city centre, we generally presume against signing this at every location on environmental grounds.”

Mr Parkinson told the Evening Post that “"leaflets have been produced with detailed cycle maps and can be downloaded from our website or available free from bike shops, Nottingham railway station, the two main universities and two main hospitals, as well as the tourism centre in Smithy Row.”

But as Mr McClintock points out, “it is unrealistic that everyone has maps on them all the time. And when you are out riding on the street, you can't look at a map. There is no substitute for clear signs that say turn left here and right there,” adding that the council’s decluttering policy created “uncertainty about where you can legally cycle."

Mr McClintock cited a number of locations in the city centre where lack of signage caused confusion, and even highlighted an instance of a cyclist who had received a fine for cycling along a particular stretch of road.

But when the cyclist asked the city council to clarify the situation was informed that he shouldn’t have been fined since it was legal to ride there – meaning that there is “confusion among the authorities themselves," according to Mr McClintock.

Mr Parkinson maintains that the council encourages "cycling in the city and have worked in partnership with Pedals to provide information and advice for cyclists in the city, so their journeys are as easy and as safe as possible. The restrictions in the city centre are generally permissive to allow movements wherever possible.”

With Pedals chairman Mr McClintock claiming that “one of the things that puts people off cycling in the city centre is not knowing where to go and getting lost," it seems that the council’s message is not quite getting through.

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 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.