The Lord Provost of Aberdeen is calling for police to tackle illegal electric bikes and scooters tearing through the city centre.
David Cameron told The P&J that it was an issue that “needs to be looked at”, both in Aberdeen and nationally.
Fears of the potential dangers of the electric mopeds in Aberdeen city centre nearly derailed plans for improved cycling infrastructure on Union Street.
Police told The Press and Journal this week that officers “are aware of concerns”.
The concerns arose during talks on how radical road changes to make more space for cyclists could impact safety on the Granite Mile…
Fears cyclists will ‘swerve around pedestrians’ in Aberdeen city centre
Councillors this week voted through £100 million roadworks across the city centre, which includes a segregated bike lane the length of the Granite Mile.
Work will start on the first part of that, on Union Street between Market Street and Bridge Street, some time before the end of June.
But there were calls for the proposals to be scrapped over serious safety concerns.
Councillor Marie Boulton was troubled by footage of bus islands in Manchester, which have zebra crossings to take pedestrians across the cycle lanes from the pavement.
“Cyclists weren’t stopping at the marked crossings,” she claimed.
“They were mounting pavements and swerving around pedestrians.”
“Would we be better going with a central cycle lane rather than sandwiching it between the public transport and the pavement?” Mrs Boulton asked.
Cost of scrapping Aberdeen city centre bike lane? Somewhere between £200,000 or £20 million…
Her question was put to Aberdeen Cycle Forum chairman Gavin Clark, who – though “not a traffic management professional” – deferred to the judgment of “professional designers and published standards”.
Roads quango Transport Scotland lists bus bypasses as the method to “reduce conflict between cycle users and buses” offering “greater benefits”.
But council masterplan leader Sandy Beattie was given a shot at answering too.
He estimated a six-to-nine-month delay if tasked with redesigning the bike lanes his team was asked to include only last summer.
And the cost of scraping all that work, redesigning and “significant risk to external funding?”
“Hundreds of thousands of pounds in terms of design as it’s a complex piece of streetscape,” he answered.
“And there’s £20m UK Levelling Up funding contributing to this work and the market.”
Mrs Boulton accepted there would be costs to scrapping the bus bypasses.
But she added, fliply gesturing towards the SNP and Lib Dem administration: “I’m sorry I don’t accept Levelling Up money is at risk, we used that as a red herring when we were challenging you.”
‘Cyclists are getting a bad name on the back of illegal electric mopeds”
Having come to commend progress towards the segregated bike lanes he had previously only “dared to dream” about in Aberdeen city centre, Gavin Clark hit out as he was continually probed on a dangerous few.
“There are lots of vehicles – I use the term carefully – there are lots of electric mopeds on our streets.
“These are not cycles, they should not be on cycleways or sharing these paths.
“There is a serious lack of regulation around their use and it bothers me that cyclists are getting a bad name on the back of illegal electric mopeds.”
Lord Provost warns of ‘potential danger’ of e-bikes
Pedal assisted e-bikes in the UK should be restricted to 15.5mph, with those over that limit considered mopeds and requiring licence plates and a driving licence.
Last July Mr Clark raised the same issue, highlighting that some food delivery drivers on mopeds “masquerading” as cyclists were causing the perception problem on the Union Street strip disability campaigners branded a “Wild West”.
This week, he suggested: “One thing therefore that might be done is some enforcement but really that is a question for the police.”
And Lord Provost David Cameron backed him up. “I must admit I have to agree with you,” he added as Mr Clark finished his deputation
Mr Cameron later told The P&J: “Leaving Aberdeen out of it, I think electric mopeds in general need to be looked at.
“It’s a bit like cyclists – the vast majority are responsible.
“But there are users who aren’t and the potential danger of these is obviously much, much greater than some young lad on his bicycle messing about.”
Police ‘aware’ of e-bike concern in Aberdeen city centre
North-east police commander Chief Superintendent Graeme Mackie previously responded to calls for greater enforcement by saying he could “probably deploy the entire police resource to try and tackle that”.
Concerns, now echoed by Aberdeen’s civic head, were put to police again this week.
Road Policing Inspector Lorraine Mackie told us: “We are aware of concerns and complaints relating to the antisocial driving of e-bikes and e-scooters that are not road legal.
“We regularly carry out patrols with a focus on educating riders about safety and legislative requirements, as well as using enforcement action where necessary.
“Road safety remains a priority and I would encourage anyone with information or concerns about potentially illegal e-bike or e-scooter activity to speak to officers on patrol in Aberdeen city centre or call police on 101.”