Bristol police say that the first two weeks of a road safety crackdown have demonstrated “how great the need is to educate cyclists and motorists on proper, safe use of the road” after 365 drivers and 324 cyclists were stopped for a variety of offences. But campaigners say the real solution to road safety in Bristol is infrastructure.
Police most commonly spoke to motorists for stopping in the advanced stop line ‘bike box’ at junctions, and to cyclists for riding through red lights.
Sergeant Sean Underwood who is leading the operation said: “The campaign has been going really well. The more people we speak to, the more we realise that there is a genuine lack of knowledge of the law in this area. The fact that we have stopped and spoken to so many motorists for stopping in the cycle box just goes to show that people don’t realise this is an offence.”
Police have also been targeting cyclists without lights, and have been issuing ‘conditional’ tickets.
Sergeant Underwood said: “The bike lights element of the campaign is also proving successful. So far we’ve stopped and advised 90 cyclists for not having lights on their bikes in the dark and 50 of these have been given the ‘conditional’ ticket (the option to swap a £50 fine for the chance to prove they’ve bought and fitted proper lights for their bike) of which 23 have already been into The Bridewell [police station] and had their ticket cancelled.”
Bristol Cycling Campaign's plan
But after three cycling deaths on Bristol’s roads last month, cycling campaigners say that just talking to drivers and cyclists is not enough. They want Bristol City Council to debate Bristol Cycling Campaign’s plan for a £109 million cycling network.
A petition to get the group’s plan delivered by 2025 has 3,200 signatures, but needs 3,500 to get the council’s attention.
Martin McDonnell, from Bristol Cycling Campaign, told the Bristol Post that a public debate would be a vital step towards long-term commitments to improve the city's transport infrastructure.
He said: "We want to smash the 3,500 barrier, in order to show the mayor and the people of Bristol that there is massive support for investment in cycling for Bristol, in order to make it a better city to live and work in.
"We feel a full council debate is necessary, as we want to get cross-party support for investment in cycling and to have it embedded not just in the council's plans but in each party's plans."
Bristol mayor and noted red-trouser-wearer George Ferguson has been supportive of the plan, but the council has yet to commit funds.
Mr McDonnell said: "Good progress has been made with regards to setting targets, putting a plan in place and committing investment over the next two years. But we need commitment to an ongoing, longer-term plan, with a team to implement it and a cycling 'commissioner' to lead the transformation."
Mr McDonnell said he supported recent police efforts to advise drivers and cyclists but said building better infrastructure would solve road safety issues in the longer term.
He said: "Our Manifesto gets to the heart of the problem – the public's perception of cycling as a dangerous form of transport.
"This perception will be difficult to change without the implementation of safe cycling infrastructure – this means separate, physically segregated, cycleways on busy roads and clear separation between pedestrians and people on bicycles elsewhere.
"Good infrastructure breeds good behaviour – if there is safe, convenient, comfortable, direct cycling infrastructure people will use it. Our campaign is aimed at making cycling available to everyone in Bristol, young, old, disabled, commuters, leisure, shoppers and school children. By doing so we will help to alleviate congestion, reduce pollution, improve health and activity and make Bristol a better city."
Figures from the first two weeks of the police campaign
- 348 drivers stopped and advised for being inside the cycle box (Advanced Stop Line).
- 17 drivers stopped and advised for being inside the yellow hatch markings.
- 160 cyclists stopped and advised for going through a red traffic light
- 74 cyclists stopped and advised for cycling on pavements
- 90 cyclists stopped and advised for riding in the dark without lights. 50 of these have been given a “conditional” ticket of which 23 have already been in and had their ticket cancelled due to buying correct lights and having them fitted to their bike.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.