Food delivery riders' reckless behaviour risks demonising cyclists – Alastair Dalton

We cyclists need to keep their eyes peeled for multiple hazards on Scotland’s roads.

There’s the potholes which pose a far greater danger to us than to vehicles, the drivers who pass us too close or pull out in front of us, and the pedestrians who cross the road without bothering to look round because they can’t hear any engine noise.

But the last thing I expected while cycling into work in Glasgow was for another cyclist, riding onto the road from a pavement, to cut straight across my path before going through a red light.

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However, it was no surprise to see he was a food delivery rider.

A delivery cyclist riding on the pavement in Glasgow city centre (Picture: The Scotsman)A delivery cyclist riding on the pavement in Glasgow city centre (Picture: The Scotsman)
A delivery cyclist riding on the pavement in Glasgow city centre (Picture: The Scotsman)

Over the past month, since The Scotsman’s office moved back into the city centre from the south side, I’ve noticed that if a cyclist runs a red light, rides the wrong way up a one-way street or on the pavement, odds on it’ll be one of this apparently growing breed.

They are immediately recognisable with their fluorescent, insulated backpacks bearing the colours and logos of firms such as Deliveroo and Just Eat.

I’d previously come across their antics in another part of Glasgow, where I was astonished to hear from one of them that they had no idea they needed lights when cycling in the dark.

Back then, Deliveroo assured me that all its riders had completed a “road safety training” course, were given “extra guidance to help make sure they're focused on road safety whenever they work with us” and were expected to “obey the rules of the road”.

When I contacted the company again after the latest incident, it gave me a similar response.

But if anyone was to spend just a few minutes at a busy junction in Glasgow city centre, they’d see a completely different picture.

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Of course, it’s important to keep things in perspective.

Being hit by a bike is likely to be less severe than a car, and some drivers are guilty of running red lights too.

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But cyclists who don’t think traffic laws apply to them threaten to embed prejudices among some politicians and sections of the media who seek to unjustly demonise cycling when it should be prioritised in the face of the climate emergency and to improve public health.

In addition, as cycling’s popularity increases, fuelled by popular bike-hire schemes in cities like Glasgow, there will be increasing pressure on cycle routes, especially those shared with pedestrians, and the last thing we want is tension and hostility between these two groups of “active” travellers caused by the irresponsible or reckless actions of riders..

The UK Department for Transport has clarified that it has no plans to introduce registration plates for bikes, as has been proposed in some quarters.

It also pointed out that while speeding offences only apply to motor vehicles, riders could still be charged with careless or dangerous cycling, and it was considering the introduction of new offences covering the latter.

As veteran Edinburgh expert Dr George Hazel has rightly observed, everyone has a bee in their bonnet about transport – and this is currently mine.

But what I absolutely don’t want to happen is the recklessness of the few to deter others from the enjoyment and benefits of cycling.