Rugby Borough Council has ditched a plan to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) banning cyclists from the centre of the Warwickshire town after two thirds of respondents to a consultation rejected the proposals, with one likening it to using a “sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
Cycling is already banned from 11am to 4pm under a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) enforceable by Warwickshire Police officers. The proposed PSPO would have enabled council wardens to issue fines against people contravening it.
The council received 42 responses to the consultation, which canvassed views on whether a PSPO should be introduced to tackle the perceived problem of antisocial cycling.
While 13 respondents were in favour of introducing a PSPO, 29 opposed it, many of them highlighting that it was unfair to subject all cyclists to such an order based on the antisocial behaviour of a minority.
Another issue commonly raised by opponents of the PSPO was that in some streets where cycling is banned from 11am-4pm under the existing TRO, motor vehicles such as delivery vans are still allowed to circulate.
The point was also made that with town centre businesses already losing trade to out-of-town operators, the council should be encouraging people to use the shops and services in the centre, rather than deterring them.
Supporting the proposals, the local police safer neighbourhoods team and the town’s business improvement district both said they had received complaints of anti-social cycling, and one councillor said that they had “nearly been hit on a couple of occasions.”
But a report prepared for the council’s cabinet ahead of its meeting on Monday (see page 177 of the agenda) revealed that it had received just one complaint on the subject in the past six months.
The report noted that “If the Council were to introduce a PSPO, then it is likely to be assumed that the Council has have taken on responsibility for enforcement against antisocial cycling.
“Under these circumstances, there is the potential for the Council to be considered liable for any relative activities which could include damage and injury claims.”
It concluded that “The consultation results show a lack of supportive evidence to implement this PSPO and a lack of evidence to demonstrate the issue being of a persistent or continuing nature.
“There is however, significant anecdotal evidence to show there is a problem which is not being adequately dealt with currently.”
The council accordingly resolved to scrap the plan.
PSPOs can be used by local authorities to ban a wide range of behaviour within a delineated zone, including urinating or defecating in public, begging, or even charity ‘chugging’.
However, as we have previously reported on road.cc, towns including Bedford, Mansfield and Peterborough have used them to also ban cycling, something that the charity Cycling UK has said is an abuse of the legislation and seeks to criminalise normal behaviour.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.