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Bedford town-centre cycling ban criticised over irrelevance

Controversial Public Space Protection Order, which Cycling UK have looked to fight in other towns, criticised by Bedford pedestrians for lack of enforcement

Criticisms over controversial town-centre cycling bans under the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) banner have been voiced again, this time in Bedford.

This time, though, the complaints have not come from cyclists opposing the order which criminalises cycling, rather pedestrians have complained to the Bedfordshire on Sunday newspaper that the bans aren't solving the problem.

Since the ban was introduced in April, 32 fines have been issued to cyclists - dubbed "inconsiderate individuals" by a council spokeswoman - caught cycling on the protected roads in the town centre.

This isn't enough though, according to some residents one of whom speculated that there are at least 100 individuals cycling illegally on the town's pedestrian areas per week.

Bedford resident Graham Wright told the Bedfordshire on Sunday that he saw four cyclists riding through the pedestrianised town centre on his last two-hour visit.

"That is the equivalent of almost 100 transgressors every week," Mr Wright said. "And this number ignores those I see cycling on the pavement on my way into town.

"Policies need to be enforced otherwise they are irrelevant."

Not everyone shares Mr Wrights views that these policies need to be enforced. Following the introduction of a similar ban in Mansfield national cycling charity Cycling UK, in association with the Cyclists' Defence Fund, issued a statement over this criminalisation of cycling.

>Cycling UK looks to fight town centre "ASBOs" for riding bikes

Duncan Dollimore of Cycling UK equated the PSPOs to geographically definied ASBOs and expressed his incredulity that these orders were being used to "restrict the use of public space and criminalise behaviour not normally regarded as illegal... [like] the pernicious pastime which undermines the very fabric of our society: cycling."

Since then Cycling UK has said that it is supporting six cyclists in an appeal against Mansfield District Council's imposition of a PSPO, which is the first example of an opposition to the introduction of the Order in 2014.

Cycling UK's statement in regards to the challenge of the Mansfield PSPO said that "the PSPO was apparently introduced to address anti-social behaviour of a minority of people who cycled in the designated area. It now impacts upon residents, considerate cyclists and disabled people who may use specially adapted cycles to visit the town centre.”

>Cycling UK backs high court challenge of Mansfield's 'cycling ASBOs'

Mr Wright's concerns over the number of cyclists riding illegally in pedestrianised areas of the town are echoed, by the director of Bedford's business representative group BedfordBID, Christina Rowe, who feels that cyclists should dismount and walk through the town centre.

"We have nothing against cyclists," Ms Rowe said. "But they should not be riding in areas set aside for pedestrians in the town centre. They should dismount and walk through like others.

"These cyclists are not all teenagers, they are often mature adults who are old enough to know better."

Meanwhile a council spokeswoman told the Bedfordshire on Sunday that "

"During April to August, the Council issued 32 fines to inconsiderate individuals who were caught cycling in the town centre pedestrian areas.

"The Police issue their own fines and prosecutions.

"In each case we issue the maximum on-the-spot fine and those refusing to pay fines are dealt with through court proceedings."

Of those individuals fined was Yvette Blackaby who was issued a £75 fine for cycling in the town centre, which she didn't pay.

She was later prosecuted at Bedford Magistrates Court, but failed to show up. Her fine was then raised to £125.


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