Newport City Council and Gwent Police have backed down on a city centre cycling ban after realising they hadn’t read the traffic order correctly and couldn’t bar cycling for as long as they wanted to.
Cycling UK, with the Cyclists’ Defence Fund, pointed out the Council and police had details of its Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) wrong, and could only ban cycling between 11am and 5pm, rather than the 11am-midnight ban police announced it would enforce last month.
Although the ban will still apply 11am-5pm, the clarification means those who commute by bike through the 11 city centre streets on which the ban applies will now be able to do so without risking a warning letter, or a Fixed Penalty Notice.
Duncan Dollimore, Senior Road Safety and Legal Officer, speaking on behalf of Cycling UK's Cyclists' Defence Fund (CDF), told road.cc: "I'm relieved that someone at Newport has at last looked at the order they wanted the police to enforce, and realised the Council's mistake. Hopefully they will now reflect on CDF's wider points regarding whether the order is enforceable at all, and indeed why they need to restrict cycling generally due to the actions of a minority.”
Dollimore said the TRO, which was made in 1997, banned vehicles between 5pm to midnight, but not cycles.
In a blog for Cycling UK, Dollimore said: “It appears the Council and police have misunderstood the legal position for many years, and now this summer have suddenly decided to adopt a forthright approach to enforcing an order that was badly thought through when it was made, and is either a completely invalid cycling ban for signage reasons, or at most only valid between 11.00am and 5.00pm.”
The ban, which was introduced following reports of "anti-social cycling", covers Bridge Street, Cambrian Street, Charles Street, Commercial Street, Corn Street, Griffin Street, High Street, Market Street, Skinner Street, Stow Hill and Upper Dock Street.
Warning letters will be handed out and cyclists flouting the ban will be made to hand over their personal details. Fixed penalties will be brought in at a later date.
Cycling UK questions why the actions of a few people on bikes should lead to a ban and asks whether a few bad drivers or dangerous pedestrians should lead to a similar ban on walking and driving in Newport.
Dollimore has made an appeal for those who cycle in and around Newport to get in touch.
"We've been speaking to Cycling UK members and Road.cc readers from the Newport area already,” he said. “But would encourage cyclists in and around Newport to still get in touch at www.cyclistsdefencefund.org.uk/contact”.
When asked for comment, Newport City Council directed road.cc to a statement on its website, which says: "Newport’s main shopping area was pedestrianised in 1997. The traffic order (Prohibition of Driving Order) put in place at the time included restrictions on cycling and this has remained in force ever since.
"It is the responsibility of the police to enforce the traffic order and we are pleased to hear they plan to increase their focus in this area following calls from local businesses and residents."