Cycling UK wants to hear from cyclists in Newport and Mansfield, as it considers legal action following proposals announced last month to ban cyclists from town centres, effectively giving people ASBOs simply for riding a bike.
The national cycling charity, with the Cyclists' Defence Fund, says the ban, which they discovered via a road.cc article, criminalises cycling, equating it with dog fouling and the sale of psychoactive substances.
Those who flout the Mansfield cycling ban, which came into effect this month under a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), could face a £1000 fine. Gwent Police named 11 streets in Newport city centre on which cycling will be banned from this month; initially people caught cycling will be made to give their personal details, and receive warning letters. Fixed penalty notices will be brought in at a later date.
Cycling UK’s Duncan Dollimore said: "Regrettably, as reported by the Guardian, some Councils have used PSPOs as a geographically defined version of an ASBO to restrict the use of public space and criminalise behaviour not normally regarded as illegal. Such heinous activities include three or more under 16’s standing in a group in northern Nottinghamshire, chalk pavement art in Swindon, and of course the pernicious pastime which undermines the very fabric of our society: cycling."
Dollimore points out while cycling will be criminalised on Mansfield’s Leeming Street motor traffic, including lorries, will still be permitted for loading before 10am and after 4pm, as shown by a line of parked cars captured on Google Streetview.
“A Google street view offers a fascinating insight into the minds of those who would seek to criminalise cycling whilst promoting motorised traffic in Mansfield town centre,” he says.
“This is not a small self-contained shopping centre area. It is Mansfield’s town centre, a public space with effectively an ASBO for everyone who cycles.”
He says the sum of the “evidence of the problems of cycling in the pedestrianised area” are that a person on a bike was injured in collision with a lorry in April 2014, along with “supportive information” from four market-stall holders.
Mansfield District Council suggested cycling was already banned from the town centre by virtue of Section 72 of the Highways Act, which doesn’t in fact apply to pedestrianised areas.
Councillor Mick Barton, portfolio holder for public protection, said: “We want people to feel safe and secure in Mansfield and we believe the vast majority of people will be supportive of these measures and will abide by them. The issue of people riding their bicycles in the pedestrianised areas in Mansfield has been a long-standing problem, with complaints raised by members of the public and market traders.”
The Newport ban, based on an historic traffic order from 1998, will make it an offence to cycle in the city centre between 11am and midnight, following complaints from the public. The problem, according to one café owner, Mazlum Kara, is young teenagers, aged 10 to 13, who pull wheelies on bikes and weave among those on foot. Cycling UK questions why all cyclists should be banned because of the actions of children on bikes, while other business owners have objected to the ban.
Dollimore urges anyone who lives in, commutes to or travels to Mansfield or Newport by bike to get in touch with the Cyclists’ Defence Fund. He also asks anyone who lives in a town considering a ban to also get in touch. He says it is easier to object before the orders are made than to challenge after the event.