Sunday 3 October 2010

Police crack down on 'rule-breaking' cycling

(Above) New Walk, Leicester

Cyclists risk £30 fines as police mount patrols on Leicester's New Walk

Many cyclists say there is no alternative safe route along London Road.

Last week, the Mercury reported that a city council panel dealing with inner city cycling improvements was inundated with requests for better routes – many calling for New Walk to be a bike route.

A 22-year-old student cyclist, who lives in the city centre, said: "I'm amazed to find that the police are more readily dishing out fines to cyclists on New Walk.

"I appreciate New Walk's unique character, but I fail to see how me cycling, slowly, up the hill puts anyone in danger.

"Leicester may pride itself on being green, but the fact of the matter is that many cycle lanes are shared with double-decker buses or simply stop at a bollard.

"New Walk is big enough for the both of us. I've been verbally abused by a pedestrian who stood in my way on New Walk, caused me to swerve and shouted abuse at me – I'd like to fine her."

Meanwhile in the City of London:

So far this year, City Police have ticketed 1,667 cyclists for what they call 'illegal' cycling. 1,304 of those are for red light jumping. A new trick, by the way, is to have a plain clothes officer spotting RLJers and radio-ing a uniformed colleague further along the street.


Transport for London says this summer’s crack down on rule-breakers resulted in:
more than 900 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) of up to £60 issued to drivers and motorcyclists
and more than 400 FPNs of up to £60 issued to cyclists

There's nothing wrong with the police targeting cyclists who harass pedestrians. But the TfL figures are disturbing because they reveal a complete lack of proportion, with far more enforcement targeted at cyclists than drivers. There are vastly more lawless drivers around thahn there are lawless cyclists. And a rule-breaking driver poses far more of a threat to those around them than a rule-breaking cyclist. The behaviour of rule-breaking cyclists is also a response to car-centric infrastructure and dangerous driving. The streets are crammed with drivers chatting on handheld mobile phones, whose behaviour reflects the knowledge that the police are not interested in enforcement. Expecting cyclists to obey red lights at junctions where drivers routinely drive into Advanced Stop Lines is unreasonable. And the Met has never shown the slightest interest in enforcing laws designed to protect pedestrians or cyclists.