West Lothian councillors demand mandatory bike bells

Tuesday March 14th 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Stuart Sommerville

Councillors in West Lothian have called for bicycle bells to become mandatory in the Highway Code.

Linlithgow’s Lib Dem Councillor Sally Pattle tabled a motion calling on the Scottish and Westminster government to legislate on bicycle bells to ensure safety as cycling grows and the potential for accidents increases.

Bells are mandatory for bicycles in Northern Ireland as well as in other countries including Canada and Holland,

Lodging a motion at a West Lothian council meeting today, Councillor Pattle, who was seconded by Linlithgow’s Labour councillor Tom Conn, said:

“West Lothian will soon become a national hub for cycling when the West Lothian Cycle Circuit opens later in 2023. This presents us with a unique opportunity to lead the way in Scotland, and bring England and Wales into line along with us, with a common-sense policy that will help to protect all of us, including cyclists.

“West Lothian Council therefore agrees to write without delay to the Minister for Active Travel, the Minister for Transport, and The Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, and request that they work together to develop and implement a new regulation requiring all bikes to be fitted with a bell.”

The council backed the motion which will also see officials writing to the UK Minister for Transport, and request that the Highway Code is updated.

Councillor Pattle told the meeting:

“The vast majority of cyclists are considerate and do alert you to their presences but there are unfortunately a small minority who seem intent on entering the Tour de France from West Lothian. This would perhaps help to change the behaviour of these riders.”

Councillor Conn said that given his experience around Linlithgow he would echo Councillor Pattle’s words. He added that he hoped that the arrival of a new cycling centre in the town would encourage more people to use bikes with confidence and be aware of other road users and pedestrians using the same public space.

Councillor Pattle told the meeting:

“In January 2023 a tragic fatal accident involving an 89-year-old man and a group of cyclists occurred on the Blackness Road in Linlithgow. Although it has not yet been established how the incident happened, where personal injury and lives are at stake it is sensible to put in place all reasonable precautions and preventive measures to avoid or reduce the risk of harm.”

No amendment being made the motion was accepted by the council.

But questions on whether a vote should have taken place were asked by Councillor Janet Campbell, SNP group leader, and on whether abstention would have been allowed by fellow SNP councillor Wille Boyle.

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