Malaga back pedals on fines for city-centre bike tours after British media report

Tourists on a bike tour in the centre of Malaga.
Tourists on a bike tour in the centre of Malaga. / Salvador Salas
  • A toughening of rules on electric scooters has caught up these popular services as well in a Local Police crackdown

The city of Malaga has put a lot of effort recently into promoting its green credentials, encouraging visitor and residents to use eco-friendly transport.

However companies offering popular bicycle or Segway rentals and tours have been angered after the council-controlled Local Police called in to say that from last Monday they would be fining them for taking visitors into the old town.

The city recently ordered stricter controls on the latest fad of renting electric scooters, as many users were leaving them on pavements or against listed buildings. But the tougher approach has had a knock-on effect on the bike firms.

100 jobs affected

Twenty companies are affected, with some 100 employees, catering for 50,000 visitors a year.

These operators are angry as they believe they were encouraged to grow their businesses by the city only to face possible fines.

President of the local sustainable transport association, Enrique San Miguel, said last weekend that the council had given operators a week to get used to the rules and then face fines of 200 euros.

"It's OK for restrictions at peak times or in certain streets, but there aren't even any signs that say you can't ride in the area," he argued.

Telegraph report

A report last week by British newspaper The Daily Telegraph appears to have prompted the council to relax its stance.

Kay Farrell, the British-born owner of Malaga Bike Tours, a pioneer in the sector, told that paper, "I've been in business for 11 years, I work like a dog and it's only in the last few years that this business has been really good. It's a nightmare."

After a meeting between the council and operators' representatives on Tuesday, it was announced that the companies won't be fined, but warned instead by police to leave the reserved pedestrian areas.

The bike companies recognised that a 2013 by-law already prevents bike groups entering the old town, but it was agreed that certain areas could still be crossed. However, in narrow, congested areas, including by the cathedral, cyclists will need to dismount from now on. The companies will meet to discuss new routes in and outside the old town.