Cycle couriers delivering food across the city have been fined for riding in the York footstreets.
And they say this is despite official advice that the restrictions on cycling in these areas had been temporarily lifted.
The couriers, working for firms like Deliveroo and Uber Eats, say they were told by police officers and the council that pedestrian zone restrictions on cars and bikes would be suspended during the lockdown.
Many bollards were removed as part of the policy.
Everything was fine until the weekend when, they say, the bollards returned and police started issuing fines again – penalising them for undertaking an essential service.
Ethan Bradley was one who was given a fixed penalty in a confrontation with a PCSO on Saturday.
He told Minster FM:
I was on a delivery, going down towards Spurriergate on the corner.
I was stopped by a PCSO. He told me to get off the bike because the zone is now pedestrianised.
I queried it, saying that’s not what we’ve been told for the last few weeks. And because I queried it he decided to fine me on the spot, basically for questioning his actions.
Driver Diane Williams says she spoke to the traffic management department at the council. “They said it would be fine for us to drive to the food outlets within the pedestrian zone,” she said.
“Snd then on Saturday morning I was stopped and told I had better get out as they were switching the cameras back on.
“I think it’s disgusting as we are an essential service.”
Cycle courier Oliver Webb said: “They’re making it harder than it needs to be.
“There are very few people in the city centre right now, pedestrian-wise.
“There are exemptions for these pedestrianised zones – for Royal Mail, for security vehicles – I think they could make exemptions for food couriers like ourselves who are currently providing a key service.”
What the police and council say
North Yorkshire Police
“Restrictions to stop motorists and cyclists from using pedestrianised areas in York are still in place as normal.
“Although, the city centre streets are currently very quiet due to the lockdown, this does not mean that pedestrianised areas can be used by cyclists and other vehicles.
“North Yorkshire Police is not responsible for lifting or imposing these restrictions, this is a council matter, but if cyclists and drivers are breaching the restrictions police can enforce them.”
Deputy Leader of the council Cllr Andy D’Agorne
“Footstreet restrictions have not been altered due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Bollards were not put in place for a short period due to staff been redeployed to other areas and the largely reduced number of people coming into the city centre.
“We will once again be putting bollards in place to support the footstreet restrictions. This is to ensure the safety of pedestrians, especially during this current time when people are asked to stay 2m apart when travelling or on their daily exercise.”