Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Edinburgh cops versus Edinburgh cyclists


POLICE have launched a crackdown on city centre cyclists who think they can "get away with murder" by disobeying the rules of the road. Racing along pavements, ignoring traffic lights and travelling in the wrong direction on one-way streets are three offences highlighted by officers.

Well for a start every one-way street represents the theft of road space from cyclists (as I have argued here). Cyclists jump red lights often because it is safer for them to do so than wait in an Advanced Stop Line which fills up with lawless HGV and bus drivers. And cyclists ride on the pavement either to take a short cut in a road system designed to benefit drivers or to avoid recklessly driven vehicles. Cyclists shouldn't, of course, but on Britain’s lawless and blood-drenched roads no one should be too surprised that cyclists adapt to motoring privilege and violence by developing classically Darwinian strategies for survival.

Inspector Andy Gilhooly, of the central policing team, said: "They think they can get away with murder and a lot of them think it is fun and acceptable. It's actually very dangerous and serious."

How many people have been run down and killed in Edinburgh by cyclists this year, I wonder? (I think I can guess the answer.) Does this mean that in Edinburgh drivers obey the speed limit, slow down at amber, never jump red lights, respect ASLs and generally drive with care, courtesy and strict adherence to road traffic law? A blissful situation spoiled only by lethal lawless cyclists? Talk of cyclists getting away with “murder” strikes me as being offensive both in general terms - no one is more lightly punished for criminally negligent killer driving than your average British motorist (this recent case, for example) – and both locally in Edinburgh. Example:

A CYCLIST has been killed after being dragged underneath a lorry following a collision in the Capital. The accident happened at around 9.30am today at the corner of Nicolson Street and West Richmond Street. The collision happened as the cyclist was turning left into Nicolson Street from West Richmond Street. The tipper lorry is owned by NWH Construction Services.It is believed the 35-year-old male cyclist was dragged underneath the vehicle.

Policing involves establishing priorities. And as we know, the greatest form of anti-social behaviour, lawlessness and extreme violence (indulged by a group known as drivers) attracts little interest from British policing, which is institutionally corrupted by motor supremacism. The lunatic and fanatical Association of British Drivers claims lots of support from British cops, and there is no reason to disbelieve them. Dangerous bigots like the late Mike Todd go right to the top of the service.

No one can reasonably complain if the police go after cyclists who behave like yobs to pedestrians. But Edinburgh policing is plainly driven by a hostility to cyclists who threaten no one:

Further problems encountered by officers involved cyclists chaining their bikes in inappropriate places, including gates to houses in the city centre and lampposts on central reservations.

Oh please. Cyclists resort to locking their bikes to the nearest convenient street furniture because cycle stands are either (i) non-existent, or (ii) inconveniently located a long way from where they want to be – quite often round the back of a facility, in a location which is a bike thief’s paradise.

The Edinburgh police animus against cyclists extends to their suppression of the entirely harmless annual naked bike ride. In 2004, on the occasion of the first ride, Police were monitoring the event and had said that any naked cyclists would be arrested for indecent exposure.

They suppressed the 2008 naked bike ride, and intend to do the same next year:

The police will arrest anyone totally starkers for breach of the peace. It is a completely ridiculous stance by the police (not law, just the stance of the LBP), and the only one of its kind in the UK.

The malign attitude of Edinburgh’s cops to cyclists is illustrated by this case:

Mr Cimini today said he was still shocked and angry over the incident. He said: "It was quite a short trip from my house to my mate's flat and I'd checked the lights before I set off. I reached my destination, took the lights off and was locking it up when I saw this officer shouting at me from across the road. He came over and said I had been cycling without lights, which I challenged, and shone the light in his face to prove it. This was when I noticed it had dimmed slightly. We then had a discussion about it and during this he slapped the handcuffs on me and I was put in the back of the van, before being taken to the cells. I was really shocked. The policeman just wouldn't listen and it was humiliating to be handcuffed and led into the van like some sort of vagrant just for apparently not having my cycle lights working.

As one cyclist has observed: If the report is true then the cyclist had working lights on his bike, though they may have been dim. Thus he was not committing an offence and the police had no grounds to ask him for his name and address. Thus the arrest was illegal, just like the fixed penalty notice.