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“They have all the resources in the world to pick on cyclists”: Council slammed for stopping and fining cyclists on pedestrianised city centre street

South Wales Police has issued over a dozen Fixed Penalty Notices to cyclists riding on the “popular” city centre route in the last two months

Cyclists have slammed Cardiff City Council's latest social media post about the crackdown on cyclists on the only pedestrianised street in the city centre, raising concerns about the rising trend of picking on cyclists, including commuters and delivery riders who are allegedly seen as easy targets by the police.

In the social media post, the council states that city centre wardens, joined forces with South Wales Police to enforce the no-cycling rule along Queen Street. It said: "Between October-December, OpCastor has seen: 504 cyclists stopped, 98 stolen OvoBikes seized, 14 fixed penalty notices issued, [and] two Section 59s issued to electric scooter riders."

Queen Street is one of the three major streets curtailed off to vehicles in Cardiff's city centre. However, it is the only one where cycling is officially banned. In fact, it has been illegal ever since the street was pedestrianised in 1974, yet it is far from an uncommon sight to see riders, partially because it is a busy shopping area with a number of cafes and retail stores, as well as because it runs along the horizontal length of almost the entirety of the city centre, starting from Newport Road on one end and opening up at Duke Street on the other.

The cyclists stopped and fined in the past couple of months were part of Operation Castor, a SWP initiative aimed at "tackling bike crime through education and enforcement", with people signing up with the force as police community support officers (PSCO) and taking on the responsibility of dealing with cyclists illegally riding on Queen Street.

> Illegal electric bikes seized and arrests made in Cardiff crackdown

The reaction to the council revealing the figures on social media has been sort of mixed, with some people agreeing that cycling shouldn't be allowed and even asking for further bans in the rest of the city centre. However, cyclists seemed to be in unison in criticising the council's decision to police cyclists strictly while ignoring other behaviours which could potentially endanger pedestrians and wheelers, such as pavement parking and speeding.

Michael Young said: "Cycling should be allowed on Queen Street. It's wide enough for a designated section to be put aside. This is anti-cycling nonsense. Shame on you all.", while another Twitter account named Scowling Monkey wrote: "Please can we see instead a focus on the awful driving standards around the city. They put far more citizens at risk of severe injury or death than a few folk cycling down Queen Street. I am far more interested in seeing you crack down on irresponsible and dangerous drivers."

Another account on Twitter called @closepassescdf, which documents near misses by motorists on cyclists in Cardiff, asked the council if Operation Castor still potentially breaking the law by targeting disabled cyclists with adapted bikes, as was allegedly confirmed by the council's official social media account last year. 

> Council “escalates war on cycling menaces” with new town centre ban, saying: “We will not stop until we eradicate this behaviour”

Meanwhile, Penny Dinh on Twitter said: "The council can’t afford to pay bin collectors liveable wages. The council has no resources to crack down on landlords guilty of illegal evictions. Yet they have all the resources in the world to pick on cyclists, many of whom are precarious gig-economy workers. Make it make sense!"

On Facebook, Paul Rock argued that if Queen Street was pedestrianised today, it would have been designed to allow cycling as other streets have been. He added: "The police always has the power to deal with people who cycle dangerously. The status and design of Queen Street needs to be reviewed in the light of why it has become such a popular route for cyclists."

road.cc has contacted Cardiff City Council for comment.

Despite cycling being banned on Queen Street, it is not however, a breach of the infamous Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which has been used by many councils in the last couple of years to charge hefty fines from cyclists.

> “Stick it up your a*se”, 82-year-old tells council officer after being fined £100 for cycling in town centre

Cycling ban poster in Brigg and Scunthorpe (North Lincolnshire Council)

Just last month, North Lincolnshire Council said that it has "escalated" and “intensified” its "war on cycling menaces" by implementing a complete ban on riding a bike in pedestrianised zones, as part of a wider crackdown on anti-social behaviour.

Following a public consultation earlier this year, the council announced the PSPO will be in place in Scunthorpe and Brigg, while also introducing stronger powers and increasing fines for what the local authority described as the "scourge" of "irresponsible behaviour".

In March, the North Lincolnshire Council leader Rob Waltham came under fire from cyclists for his rhetoric. He said: “Residents are fed up and we are fed up with that small minority of people who think the rules do not apply to them.

"We have taken a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour, and we have spent a great deal of time - and taxpayers' money - to crack down on these people already. Despite this, they just will not listen nor learn.

In the past, PSPOs have also been used to target the elderly as well. In 2022, an 82-year-old cyclist was fined £100 for riding in the Grimsby town centre. However, he defied them by saying he would rather go to jail than a pay a fine.

"I've been riding my bike around here for 40 years and have never once been fined," he said. "When he gave it to me I told him, 'stick it up your arse'."

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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28 comments

Avatar
eburtthebike | 3 months ago
2 likes

"Queen Street is one of the three major streets curtailed off........"

Curtailed off????????  Really?

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Rich_cb | 3 months ago
6 likes

If fairness to SWP etc there is a segregated bike path that runs almost parallel to Queen Street for its entire length.

It does take longer because of traffic lights but there's not really a safety excuse for riding through the pedestrianised area.

The rampant theft of the OVO Bikes was one of the main reasons that the entire scheme has now been shut down so I don't really object to the targeting of the scallywags responsible for Cardiff losing its bike hire scheme either.

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Rendel Harris replied to Rich_cb | 3 months ago
4 likes
Rich_cb wrote:

The rampant theft of the OVO Bikes was one of the main reasons that the entire scheme has now been shut down so I don't really object to the targeting of the scallywags responsible for Cardiff losing its bike hire scheme either.

We agree for once, but wondering why they didn't seem to make any arrests? This is a bugbear in London where the police do nothing about obviously stolen Lime bikes (they make a hell of a row if being used illegally) despite the fact that the user has stolen property worth a considerable sum.

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Simon E replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
1 like

It's many years since I was last in Cardiff but if I was on a pedestrianised street like Queen Street then I'd not want people cycling along there. Unfortunately there are always going to be some cyclists who ride dangerously, or too fast and are considered a danger by pedestrians. Whether they are young families, teenagers, elderly, partially sighted or even inebriated, surely we can let them have the 300-400 metres of pedestrianised space for themselves? It's really not difficult for cyclists to get off and walk. I do the same on Pride Hill in Shrewsbury, even though given the choice at quieter times I'd prefer to freewheel down to Shoplatch and continue riding.

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Rendel Harris replied to Simon E | 3 months ago
4 likes

Nothing I disagree with there - I was just wondering why if they recovered 98 stolen hire bikes they don't appear to have arrested a single person riding same.

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Bigfoz | 3 months ago
1 like

Not sure why this is an issue. It's a pedestrianised zone, so no cycling. We get up in arms at drivists who park / drive in cycle lanes, how is cycling in a pedestrianised zone any different? Whether we agree with the pedestrianization (or drivers agree with 20mph speed limts - or any limits at all...) is immaterial.

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BaselGooner | 3 months ago
6 likes

We do this weird thing here in Switzerland where you can cycle through old city thoroughfares that are generally pedestrianised by just having signs asking cyclists to slow down and be considerate..only very narrow old streets have "no cycling" and I've only come across a couple in whole country.

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Sriracha replied to BaselGooner | 3 months ago
8 likes

I visited Basel recently and was amazed at the number of cyclists. At a rough reckoning they outnumbered motor vehicles. All sorts, all ages, but mostly people just going about their business - by bike instead of by car. And some impressive machinery too - lots of "people carrier" ebikes toting kids around. And all this despite a reasonably hilly environment (Switzerland...), and tram tracks all over the place. A real delight.

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BaselGooner replied to Sriracha | 2 months ago
0 likes

The most impressive thing is it is all ages. The e-bike has kept many an older cyclist going into 80s and beyond.

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schlepcycling | 3 months ago
6 likes

If it's not a cop I don't stop. 

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Stephankernow replied to schlepcycling | 3 months ago
2 likes
schlepcycling wrote:

If it's not a cop I don't stop. 

If we as cyclists break the law , We are at fault we stop. The law is for all if it says no cycling i dismount and walk through.
What makes you so special that you can ignore the law?

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miekwidnes | 3 months ago
13 likes

One of the problems with the old "enforcing the no cycling laws in the High Street" is that they end up only stopping the reasonably responsible cyclists.

If some bloke in hi-vis yells at aa teenager ina  black balaclava to stop because he if swerving his bike around little old ladies at excessibve speed - the he (probaby he) will just laugh and zoom off

If they ask me when I am tootling along at walking speed whilebeing careful to not cause problems- but illegally sitting on the saddle with both feet touching the floor - then I am far more likely to stop

Hence it is people like me that get stopped

The people who cause the problems just zoom off - you can;t identify them and trying to catch them would require excessive resources with a low chance of success

 

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Boopop replied to miekwidnes | 3 months ago
4 likes

I don't think I would stop, I'd keep going. They'd actually encourage me to accelerate. I wouldn't be able to get away with it in my local town mind as plenty of people know me including councillors and at least one PCSO.

If I was bikepacking though I'd be out of there. If I was cycle touring on my Hase Pino, I'd be having a long argument with them on why it's easier to ride at slow speed on my tandem with my ride partner rather than walk the heavily laden tandem eBIke.

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Stephankernow replied to Boopop | 3 months ago
2 likes
Boopop wrote:

I don't think I would stop, I'd keep going. They'd actually encourage me to accelerate. I wouldn't be able to get away with it in my local town mind as plenty of people know me including councillors and at least one PCSO.

If I was bikepacking though I'd be out of there. If I was cycle touring on my Hase Pino, I'd be having a long argument with them on why it's easier to ride at slow speed on my tandem with my ride partner rather than walk the heavily laden tandem eBIke.

Why don't you dismount like many of us do and walk through the pedestrian only area?

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Boopop replied to Stephankernow | 3 months ago
1 like
Stephankernow wrote:

Why don't you dismount like many of us do and walk through the pedestrian only area?

I don't because I think it's insulting to imply that beacuse I'm on a bike I'm by default more dangerous than walking with the bike. I'm quite capable at cycling at walk speed. If I'm riding my non-electric cargo bike towing our gazebo, there's no chance I can walk it, I'm quite capable of cycling it though. These people that insist cyclists dismount have a very closed experience of cycling. In the Netherlands they have plenty of car-free streets where cycling is also allowed.

You seem to have ignored my comment about the Hase Pino - it's a semi-recumbent tandem, where the person on the recumbent seat at the front could be blind, or physically incapable of walking. No, I would not like to try walking with that bike while there's a 80~kg weight high off the ground on the front of the bike. Anyone who thinks that is safer than just riding the bike at a low speed, which I have much more experience doing, is frankly an idiot.

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TROOPER74 replied to miekwidnes | 3 months ago
1 like

You voted for Drakeford and his Marxists .... as you will sow you will reap ....

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ubercurmudgeon replied to TROOPER74 | 3 months ago
16 likes

I remember going to a Drakeford and his Marxists gig. One of the finest ska bands of the 1980s.

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perce replied to ubercurmudgeon | 3 months ago
9 likes

I was there too. Great band.

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chrisonabike replied to ubercurmudgeon | 3 months ago
8 likes

Didn't Drakeford and his Marxists open for Woke Lefties at Heckmondwike Masonic Hall back in the day?

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Bezzard74 replied to chrisonabike | 2 months ago
1 like

Never thought i'd see 'Eckmondwike mentioned on 'ere!

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Boopop replied to TROOPER74 | 3 months ago
14 likes
TROOPER74 wrote:

You voted for Drakeford and his Marxists .... as you will sow you will reap ....

What bizarre thing to say. Drakeford has done cyclists across Wales a huge favour, making urban streets safer. You right wingers seem to think driving = freedom, when actually car dominance = lack of freedom.

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mattw | 3 months ago
2 likes

So what is the mechanism that bans cycling in Queen Street, Cardiff?

A byelaw?

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Secret_squirrel | 3 months ago
4 likes

Just a thought but perhaps the cyclists of Cardiff should get over themselves and stop confusing Enforcement with Adjustments to road layouts.

They found 98 nicked bikes.   My only regret is that the dont seem to have been targeting Delivery riders - otherwise the number of bike seized would be higher...

My presumption is that there are dozens of traffic enforcement operations on cars during a year so a once a year crack down on bad cycling should be looked on as perfectly fine in the grand scheme of things.   If someone can show me the enforcement on cycling is DIS-proportionate ( and no that doesnt mean cycling gets no enforcement) then I reserve the right to change my tune.

For now though - suck it up buttercup.

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Rendel Harris replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 months ago
7 likes
Secret_squirrel wrote:

They found 98 nicked bikes.  

98 "stolen OVO bikes" - hacked hire bikes. No problem with that but they don't seem to have found any stolen ordinary bikes nor to have arrested or charged any of the people riding the hacked hire bikes either.

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Backladder replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
5 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
Secret_squirrel wrote:

They found 98 nicked bikes.  

98 "stolen OVO bikes" - hacked hire bikes. No problem with that but they don't seem to have found any stolen ordinary bikes nor to have arrested or charged any of the people riding the hacked hire bikes either.

I don't think theft of penny farthings is much of a problem these days.

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polainm replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 months ago
3 likes

There is scant enforcement for drivers. Just look at the pavement parking problem. Too difficult for vote-grabbing councillors who only drive, to tackle. Cowardly, immoral, retrogressive. 

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brooksby | 3 months ago
1 like

Oh, Pollux to that, South Wales police! no surprise

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brooksby replied to brooksby | 3 months ago
0 likes

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