Cyclist threatened with fine for riding on bike path

Benjie Bateman was stopped by police on a cycle path. Picture: Greg Macvean
Benjie Bateman was stopped by police on a cycle path. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A POSTER boy for cycling in the Capital has a lodged a complaint with a police watchdog after two officers allegedly tried to slap him with a fine – for riding on a bike path.

Benjie Bateman, who starred in the council’s “On Foot by Bike” campaign flyers, was pedalling along a dedicated off-road cycle lane between Leith Links and Portobello near Seafield Road when he said a police van pulled up beside him.

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Mr Bateman claims the officers insisted he was riding on a pavement and told him he had committed a “ticket-able offence”.

It was only after the documentary filmmaker argued his case and pointed out signage declaring the start of the cycle path that the police officers – who he accused of acting in a “condescending and confrontational manner” – left him alone.

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Dad-of-one Mr Bateman’s complaint to Police Scotland is now being investigated by the force’s professional standards department.

The 40-year-old, from Hillside, said: “I was cycling along the cycle path next to Seafield Road when a police van pulled up beside me and an officer barked ‘Just what do you think you’re doing? That’s a pavement you’re cycling on, which is a ticketable offence’.”

“I said ‘This is a cycle path’ and she [the police officer] said ‘No it’s not, it only becomes a cycle path further on’.

“I pointed to a sign about 15 metres back along the cycle path from the way I’d come and said ‘There’s a sign there stating that this is a cycle path’.

“When I turned back round to the officer, her male colleague hit the gas and they sped off, taking a right turn towards the McDonald’s drive-thru. No apology, nothing.”

Mr Bateman said it was the first time that he had faced such problems with the police on the path, which came into use almost three years ago.

Ian Maxwell, from cycling organisation Spokes, said more awareness was needed of cycle paths amongst the police.

He said: “This sounds like an unusual incident. I’m very surprised because it’s [the cycle route] been signposted for some time and one would think it would be fairly clear where the cycle path begins.

“It sounds like there’s a bit of awareness needed from the police, especially where there’s an off-road path which is used by both pedestrians and cyclists.”

The Scottish Government-funded On Foot by Bike campaign was launched in September last year in a bid to get more people to leave their cars behind and instead choose to cycle and walk through the Capital.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Our professional standards department have received a complaint relating to the conduct of officers in the Seafield area and inquiries are ongoing into this.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com