Bicycles, electric scooters and skateboards should be banned in parts of Bedford.
Executive members of Council have accepted public space protection orders that restrict their use.
According to orders, cycling will be prohibited in the main pedestrian area of downtown Bedford between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
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Skateboarding and e-scooters will also be banned in the main pedestrian area – and e-scooters will also not be permitted in listed parks and open spaces.
A report presented to the executive of Bedford Borough Council on Wednesday March 2 says Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) are designed to ensure the law-abiding majority can use and enjoy public spaces, free of antisocial or illegal behavior.
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He added that the bans included in these PSPOs are “proportionate, based on evidence, responses and consultation analysis and are necessary to address ongoing issues in the specified designated place”.
Councilor Charles Royden (LibDems, Brickhill Ward), holder of the environment, highways and transport portfolio, presenting the PSPOs to the executive, said: ‘I don’t think anyone can seriously question the this council’s commitment to promoting sustainable travel choices, including cycling.
“Just last night (Tuesday March 1) I was considering incredible plans to push forward millions of pounds of investment to make cycling available and accessible to all, in Bedford, and especially around the downtown.
“But we must not allow cycling, dogs or scooters in places where they shouldn’t be, and we have consulted on these things.
“We had a majority of 64 people in a public consultation who wanted [to] cycling, but we had overwhelming support from businesses not to allow cycling on sidewalks in pedestrian areas. And we also had the support of the police.”
Councilor Doug McMurdo (Independent, Sharnbrook Ward) said some people have claimed cyclists will be forced to use Class A roads by the Restricted Zone.
“I don’t agree with that,” he said. “You will have to come on class A roads anyway to enter the area. One actually asked why are we discriminating against the people of this area and not including Lime Street?
“I think maybe we failed, if I may say so, and I’m not encouraging it, but maybe Lime Street should have been included.
“Would you actually cycle at Centre:MK?” ” He asked.
Councilor Henry Vann (LibDems, From Parys Ward), the Town Centers and Town Planning portfolio holder, said he cycled through the town center in the rain to the meeting .
“It used to be effectively illegal to cycle through downtown, and it has been made easier by this administration,” he said.
“As cyclists and as a council, I think it is important that we listen to representatives of people with disabilities, including those with visual impairments.
“I will support restrictions on electric scooters and reckless cycling in the limited number of pedestrian areas, pavements in fact, in the city center for the limited time for which it has been proposed.
“I think we should dismiss a false narrative tonight and emphasize that Bedford is a pedestrian and bike friendly town,” he said.
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Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “What we have here enables us to enable our civilian enforcement team to operate rather than having to be police officers, who are forced to do a whole range of things.”
Councilor Louise Jackson (Labour, Harpur Ward) said: ‘I’ve thought a lot about this because I’ve had a lot of representations, I’m sure we all have, about this.
“But I think the narrative is wrong, I think people are under the impression that you can’t cycle in downtown Bedford.
“It’s just not true because I’ve been doing it for years and the PSPO hasn’t stopped me from doing it,” she said.
Before the executive was asked to accept the recommendations before it, Councilor Royden said: ‘I am happy to have the support of my Labor colleagues, our independent representative, Councilor McMurdo, and even the leader of the Conservative Party. [sic].
“I am very sorry that our green councilors have taken this position to try to portray this as some kind of cycling ban, which is not because of course we are very pro cycling, we just want to ensure people’s safety. ”