Letters: Cycling ban has left me feeling like a criminal

4344
A lampost showing details of the times cycling is permitted on Silver Street, Bedford. Image: Bedford Independent
A lampost showing details of the times cycling is permitted on Silver Street, Bedford. Image: Bedford Independent

I am fairly new to Bedford and have so far felt it to be very welcoming, lovely and quite a safe place to live.

That is until the other day, when I was innocently cycling through the town centre, and was stopped by an intimidating looking ‘officer’ of sorts, who proceeded to tell me I had committed an offence and was being fined £75 for cycling in a pedestrian-only zone.

I had absolutely no idea about this, any signs were on the other side of the Harpur centre to where I had locked my bike up, so I would not have seen them anyway.

I was literally riding for less than a minute in an area I had assumed was OK, helped by the fact that there are scooters and kids cycling around everywhere in town, so not knowing about any restrictions, one would assume it was fine.

I am shocked and extremely angry, and I feel I have been treated like a criminal when I am an honest citizen who made an accidental error, unaware of this cycling ‘ban’ in certain areas.

The area was empty too, so I would never have been posing a danger to anyone. Clearly, something is very, very wrong with this, I am questioning the very purpose of this ban.

If the aim is to honestly prevent cycling that is a potential danger to others in the pedestrian area, it is plainly not working.

I’ve seen several cyclists, especially young men, cycle through at some speed, with no regard for people around them, including on market days.

I can’t see them stopping for enforcement, giving their details as I did, and paying a large fine.

Penalising law-abiding people

So, the system is basically penalising law-abiding people, visitors, those new to the town and most probably elderly people who cycle slowly and carefully, and benefit from locking up their bikes close to where they need to go.

Cycle Ban sign about 10ft high on a lamp post on Silver Street, Bedford Town Centre. Image: Bedford Independent
Cycle Ban sign about 10ft high on a lamp post on Silver Street, Bedford Town Centre. Image: Bedford Independent

How about a system instead whereby enforcement officers politely give cyclists in a more clearly marked ‘PSPO’ area at least a warning and if they infringe it again, they are fined?

Not to mention the extortionate amount that they are expecting people to fork out, is quite frankly disgraceful.

And, not great for a welcoming town vibe nor for encouraging safe alternatives to the car, that would seem fairer and would help demonstrate that fines are not aimed at being an income generator for a private contractor.

I would certainly like to know what targets/rewards the enforcement officers are given for issuing fines.

One thing is certain, I feel less inclined to go into the town centre at all now. I am sure there are plenty of others that feel the same, that have had the same awful thing happen to them, and are wanting to now avoid the centre.

What a sad shame for such an otherwise lovely town. Disappointing to say the least.

Karyn Pemberton
Mile Road
Bedford

We have contacted Bedford Borough Council about Ms Pemberton’s experiences.

Letters published do not reflect the views of the Bedford Independent. If you
would like to respond to any issues raised, please email
letters@bedfordindependent.co.uk.