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Parliament says folding bikes allowed... if they fit through security scanner

UPDATE: Statement comes after reporter was turned away from Parliament green transport event... because Brompton bike did not fit through security check

UPDATE 21/11/2022

On Monday 21st November officials from Parliament confirmed to road.cc that folding bikes are allowed, providing they can fit through security screening.

In a statement provided to road.cc, Parliament explained:

Folding bikes are allowed on the Estate providing they can fit through security screening equipment. Luggage larger than 550 mm x 360 mm is not allowed, except at the main visitor entrance, Cromwell Green, where up to 600 mm x 400 mm luggage can be accommodated. Non-folding bicycles are not allowed. The nearest bike racks are outside 7 Millbank.

As per Brompton's website, one of its folded bikes is 585mm tall, 565mm long, with a width of 270mm, suggesting meeting the stated dimensions could be problematic away from the Cromwell Green entrance.

Original story: 

When the editor of shipping industry publication Lloyd's List, whose day job involves reporting the decarbonisation of global maritime trade, arrived at the Houses of Parliament on Thursday evening for a launch event for a new tidal-powered port he had little worry his own green transport — a Brompton folding bicycle — would be a problem.

Having cycled around London attending events on his trusty folder for over a decade Richard Meade certainly did not expect his mode of transport to be deemed a "security risk" and his access to Parliament refused, not least when trying to attend a green transport event.

"The fact that I was attending a green transport event and being barred for turning up on green transport seems bizarre," Richard told road.cc. "The police did not seem moved by my environmental argument!"

Richard's invitation to the launch event for the Centre Port Project by MP for Boston and Skegness Matt Warman clearly did not sway security to allow the folder either.

Since telling his story on social media, several have replied — including road.cc contributor Simon MacMichael — reporting themselves or others being able to take folding bicycles into the Houses of Parliament without issue.

"I've been cycling around London attending events on my Brompton for over a decade and this is the first time I've been refused access on account of it being a security risk," Richard explained.

"The police officer insisted that it was not allowed through the scanner. As others have pointed out, that's not entirely true given that it seems many Bromptons have been allowed through before mine. Presumably wheelchairs are accommodated despite being bigger than my bike."

According to the security information section of the Parliament website: "Non-folding bicycles are not allowed. The nearest bike racks are outside 7 Millbank."

road.cc has contacted the Houses of Parliament for confirmation that folding bicycles should be able to pass security.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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18 comments

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Velo-drone | 1 year ago
0 likes

Excellent.  Can they now issue the same guidance to HM Courts?

I was physically manhandled off the premises at Bromley Magistrates court when attempting to attend as a witness for a careless driving prosecution for a close pass.

They stated that I might be hiding a bomb in the bicycle frame.  I pointed out that it was possible to inspect inside a folded Brompton's frame to their heart's content. 

To no avail.  They refused to even relay a message to the front desk that I would be delayed due to having to go and find somewhere to buy a padlock ...

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brooksby | 1 year ago
0 likes

So the Parliamentary Estate doesn't even stick to an agreed standard for the size of its security scanners? 

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chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
4 likes

"Parliamentary" and "standard"(s) in the same sentence?  Without "broke" / "broken"?

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open_roads replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
0 likes

It reads like they have a larger machine at the main entrance and a smaller one at the other entrance.

As a Brompton owner I wouldn't expect them to spend hundreds of £000s on a new scanner just to scan folded bikes.

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BillBalchin | 1 year ago
7 likes

Is this the Sandford Police in action again? "It's for the greater good".

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mattw | 1 year ago
9 likes

Sounds like cockup not conspiracy.

Mild apology incoming soon.

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Awavey replied to mattw | 1 year ago
0 likes

yes I believe some protestors, posing as tourists,attempted to deface a statue in parliament last week, plus there have been previous security breaches along similar protesting lines, that always leads to MPs complaining about how lax security is, that I suspect theyre just defaulting to a blanket security stop regardless for a while

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chrisonabike replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
3 likes

Statue-defacing?!  I had no idea things were so serious.  Time to deploy the full force of anti-terror legislation against these enemies of the people...

I agree, this is probably a "local issue" - these things do change from time to time.

The real complaint then becomes "even if you go to Parliament where are the convenient and safe facilities for parking your bike?"  Or "why are locks (and e.g. lights and mudguards) considered optional accessories in the UK"?  (A: because most cycling is recreational and the small minority who regularly use this as a transport option have specific needs - because of the necessity for sharing roads with fast traffic and lack of secure bike parking...)

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brooksby replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
1 like
chrisonatrike wrote:

Statue-defacing?!  I had no idea things were so serious.  Time to deploy the full force of anti-terror legislation against these enemies of the people...

I know you're saying that in jest, but I think that is official Govt (or at least Home Office) policy nowadays...

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Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
6 likes

Us that grew up in the 80's see nothing strange about not being able to take bikes in to, or lock them up close to, Goverment buildings.
The IRA used a bike bomb in Coventry in 1939, and again in Bognor in 1994.

I am somewhat confused by the wording of the article though ... ""Non-folding bicycles are not allowed." ... but isn't the Brompton a folding bike and as such would have been allowed?

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IanGlasgow replied to Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
1 like

That does appear to be the rule; folding bikes such as Bromptons are allowed, non-folding bikes have to be left outside on the bike racks.

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armb replied to Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
2 likes
Oldfatgit wrote:

Us that grew up in the 80's see nothing strange about not being able to take bikes in to, or lock them up close to, Goverment buildings.
The IRA used a bike bomb in Coventry in 1939, and again in Bognor in 1994.

Those were both luggage attached to bikes though. I doubt anyone sees anything strange in having bags scanned before taking them into a government building.

Oldfatgit wrote:

I am somewhat confused by the wording of the article though ... ""Non-folding bicycles are not allowed." ... but isn't the Brompton a folding bike and as such would have been allowed?

If the official Parliament site had just said bikes were banned, and someone turned with a Brompton and been told "no, it's all bikes, not just non-folding", it wouldn't have been much of a story.

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OldRidgeback replied to Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
1 like

If you read The Quiet American by Graeme Greene, the use of bicycles is mentioned for similar purposes. I seem to remember the IRA planted a device inside a bicycle frame in the early 90s also.

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brooksby replied to OldRidgeback | 1 year ago
1 like

Here in Bristol they don't let people use Sheffield stands near our cenotaph when there's an army day procession or on Remembrance Sunday 

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Sriracha | 1 year ago
3 likes

I suppose the frame could be pressed into service to be one big pipe bomb - probably actually easier with a folding bike. The solution is surely to have secure cycle parking outside, or in a location where a bomb would achieve little.

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eburtthebike replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
6 likes
Sriracha wrote:

I suppose the frame could be pressed into service to be one big pipe bomb - probably actually easier with a folding bike. The solution is surely to have secure cycle parking outside, or in a location where a bomb would achieve little.

It would be easy enough to take out the saddle stem on a non-folding bike and stuff the seat tube with explosives, but that would be allowed.

Just like everything else with politics, their policy on bikes and green transport is a confused mish-mash of conflicting absurdities.

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Sriracha replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
0 likes

Well, no, that would not be allowed - non-folding bikes are already banned from being taken indoors, and must remain outside. Only folders are allowed in.

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andystow replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
1 like

On a Brompton, though, you can actually look inside the main tube when it's folded!

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