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Council to install CCTV cameras worth over £40,000 on cycle path to "combat anti-social behaviour"

The move is said to deter “nuisance” riders from using scrambler motorbikes and quad bikes on the upgraded cycle route

The Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council has announced that it will be investing more than £40,000 to install CCTV cameras at an upgraded Teesside cycle route in a bid to deter anti-social behaviour.

The council completed improvement work last autumn on a two mile-section of Black Path between Harcourt Road in South Bank and Ormesby High Street, also known locally as The Lines.

These have included a new, widened sealed tarmac surface, embedded ‘solar eye’ lighting, the clearing of overgrown vegetation to make the area feel brighter and less enclosed.

In 2022, £665,000 was granted to the council by the active travel charity Sustrans, which oversees the National Cycle Network and administers awards from the Department of Transport, with these upgrades coming as a part of action on the funding.

> Police chief pledges crackdown on bike thieves in Brighton... the city where police refused to watch CCTV of a bike theft

The works also included replacing restrictor barriers with chicanes compliant with cycle and active travel infrastructure guidance issued to local authorities, to make it more accessible for wheelchair users, along with the likes of mobility scooters and people with pushchairs, Teeside Live reports.

Now, after a report to the local authority revealed continuing nuisance behaviour by riders of scrambler motorbikes and quad bikes, a total of £40,550 has now been signed off for six new CCTV cameras and associated equipment, set to be installed by September.

A delegated decision report explaining the investment said: “Despite support for the new look route, concern remains about the level of anti-social behaviour using scrambler motorbikes and quad [bikes], which has seen parts of the path damaged.

"This activity is now more visible due to the greater public presence along the route."

The report added that camera masts on the route would have to be fitted in locations with good visibility, while affording privacy for adjacent houses.

> “Benefit of removing barriers far outweighs anti-social motorbike behaviour”: Cyclist calls for removal of barriers from cycle paths for greater accessibility

Regarding the upgrade works, Philip Chisholm, who rides an adapted cycle to help disabled friends and family, said: "The Lines is amazing now. It’s wonderful for disabled carriages or even a very long bike, and a 100% improvement on what it was before.

“The old track was muddy with lots of barriers. You’d come off it with a filthy bike and filthy clothes. Now it’s lovely and smooth tarmac, there are access points all the way along, and it’s three times the width.

"I've ridden a bike since I was a little boy. I’m now 70. This feels like cycle routes are moving with the times for all age groups."

In the past, Hamish Belding, a Project Officer at cycling, walking and wheeling charity Sustrans, had told road.cc about how removal of inaccessible gates can serve the community and help more people cycle. He had also said that councils often challenged the removal of barriers based on the perception that they are there to stop illegal motorbike or moped use, a view that is also echoed on social media by opponents.

He said: “Illegal motorbike use is a perception, there’s a lot of fear-mongering around it which may not actually reflect reality. Often the barriers are put in as an automatic sort of thing when paths are built and not in recognition of whether there's a problem or not. I know this area very well. I know that we don't have a motorbike problem here and the benefit of removing the barrier far outweighs any risk of anti-social motorbike behaviour.

Last year, cyclists had blasted Stoke Newington Police after its social media account shared a photograph of an officer issuing a fine to a woman with a child seat on her bike for riding on the pavement, as part of its operation to tackle “cycling related anti-social behaviour”.

Meanwhile, anti-social behaviour has also come to spotlight in a number of cases where the council has used the infamous Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to impose fines on cyclists.

Earlier this month, Grismby, perhaps the town council whose name is most frequently associated with PSPO, was back in the spotlight after two cyclists were fined over £500 for riding their bikes through the town centre, prompting a councillor to claim that the cyclists were “rightly punished” and that the local authority “will not simply look the other way” when it comes to people breaching the PSPO.

And more recently, we reported that “rogue” wardens working for the Colchester City Council had been accused of “lying in wait” to catch cyclists riding on the pavement, after two riders were recently fined £100 for briefly mounting a footpath to avoid navigating a notoriously busy roundabout and its “thick and fast motor traffic”, a penalty described by one of the cyclists involved as “unjustified” and “a bit farcical”.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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15 comments

Avatar
polainm | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Could someone explain how six cameras cost £40,000?

Plenty of covert battery powered HD cameras with motion activation could do the job for a tenth of that price. 

I do wonder how the UK manages approval  to spend £0.5bn on an A-road roundabout and £40k on a few cameras, then under funds Active Travel for 25 years....

Avatar
OldRidgeback | 2 weeks ago
8 likes

The sooner the po;lice can stop the off-road motorcycles, the better. Even living in London, we see a lot of these. My dislike is pariticularly aimed at the Suron electric trailbikes. The riders come to the various open BMX tracks, rip them up and then depart. How these bikes can be sold legally is beyond me. And how the police can't simply seize them from the owners is also beyond me.

Avatar
the little onion | 2 weeks ago
6 likes

In my desparate attempt to see some positives in cycling stories, I'll take it as a win that the usually awful Sustrans are recognising that barriers and crappy surfaces are not acceptable on cycle infrastructure.

 

 

Avatar
polainm replied to the little onion | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Sustrans isn't about drivers, so it has almost no budget. 

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mattw | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Cleveland Police are a force with one of the longest records of tackling ASB motorcycling sensibly and seriously, ie Operation Endurance, using policing tools.

I'm interested that there is no comment from them here.

This CCTV feels to me like the same sort of gesture politics as installing barriers - voters like to see something but there may be little impact. It may be that it will show that there is minimal ASB, and they are all going on about Schrodinger's Motorcyclist.

I'm interested in the point about increased visibility due to more people using the track. That is known, and perhaps we will have less ASB due to the increased footfall.

I think the 40k could perhaps be better spent on 25% of a pair of PCSOs for two years, to end the problem by a policing intervention.

Does anyone have a photo of these "compliant" chicanes? IMO there aren't any. However, if Sustrans are involved they will be accessible to a reasonable degree.

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 3 weeks ago
10 likes

Serious question: how will CCTV help deter riders of unplated illegal scramblers wearing full-face helmets?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Rendel Harris | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

No idea, but they better have 'em pretty high up / inaccessible or that'll be multiples of 40000 quid...

Living for a while in places where there are bikers and stuff does get trashed ... I've not seen anyone try to vandalise the bigger ones.

Those who don't care will continue not to notice them.  The rest of us will do so from time to time - and perhaps momentarily recall stories of sci-fi dystopias from our youth.  Before realising that there's probably no-one watching.

Before realising again that the algorithms are ALWAYS watching.  Then remembering that ultimately it's still (currently) humans setting these up and maintaining them.  So sometimes even the algorithms will be broken, or they've sent an alert to a human somewhere but they're on holiday / not bothering to checking their computer / phone...

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to chrisonabike | 3 weeks ago
6 likes

chrisonabike wrote:

No idea, but they better have 'em pretty high up / inaccessible or that'll be multiples of 40000 quid...

Even high up I'm sure I've seen reports of cameras being put out of action with paintball guns, high-powered catapaults with steel ball bearings, or crossbows, not to mention the anti-ULEZ  "vigilantes" (it's OK to be one if you're pro-car, just not if you're anti-illegal-driving) chopping down the poles with angle grinders. As you say, a replacement cost waiting to happen. Obviously what's really needed is CCTV cameras monitoring the CCTV cameras...

Avatar
qwerty360 replied to chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

chrisonabike wrote:

No idea, but they better have 'em pretty high up / inaccessible or that'll be multiples of 40000 quid...

 

 

 

Not really.

 

I expect a huge chunk of the 40k will be installing power and network cables to wherever they want to put the poles.

 

 

Though I do agree that without policing the cameras won't do anything.

Avatar
mark1a replied to Rendel Harris | 3 weeks ago
6 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

Serious question: how will CCTV help deter riders of unplated illegal scramblers wearing full-face helmets?

It might not even happen.

The following debacle is local to me, a disused railway, now a popular cycle route between Weymouth & Portland. Last October it was revealed that although the poles went up in 2022, the power was never connected. 
https://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/23851764.weymouth-cctv-cameras-rodwell...

Stop press: they're still not working in 2024.
https://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/24042869.cctv-set-deter-crime-along-ro...

Now somebody hit by a bottle from an overhead bridge (CCTV still not completed)
https://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/24335745.bottle-thrown-cyclist-along-r...

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to mark1a | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

Phew!  Saved from "Big Brother".  Thank goodness for the veniality and incompetence of the powers that be - clearly it's only graft that's keeping us from the machinations of the shadowy (but somehow all-powerful) "them"...

Meanwhile the outlaws gonna outlaw anyway.

Maybe I'll not worry about those legally required pedal reflectors you can't see clearly from behind the recumbent...?

Avatar
Tom_77 replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Rendel Harris wrote:

Serious question: how will CCTV help deter riders of unplated illegal scramblers wearing full-face helmets?

Locally I've seen the police post photos on social media asking for help identifying riders. Not sure if the images have come from CCTV or perhaps someone's mobile phone.

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chrisonabike replied to Tom_77 | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Good work in that case.  I'd like to be wrong but while the riders take some basic "precautions" like not showing their full face or getting plates for the bike doesn't that just take things one step further down the usual dead end?

Even if police are particularly pro-active, find "who it is" (probably they have a good idea already) and go round the rider just says "lots of those bikes about.  I don't remember ever being there".

Then what?

Not that it's not possible to think of ways to catch 'em (I'd bet "see if the idiot's gone and put it on his social media" would be a good cheaper shout).  It seems that needs more resources than any police force is currently prepared to deploy though.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Tom_77 | 2 weeks ago
7 likes

Well credit to them for trying but I can't see the CPS approving a prosecution on the basis of that evidence if the rider denies any knowledge of it...might make them think twice about going there again I suppose.

Can't help thinking the money might be better spent on a stinger device and a few officer hours with them hiding in bushes and bringing the scrotes down as they come through.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Tom_77 | 2 weeks ago
3 likes

Also (I know this is fine pedantry) it's people most of the time - but they are also seeking motorbikes ("if you see these motorbikes acting illegally, dangerously or riding in an anti-social manner ...")!

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