Bristol police stop 689 drivers & cyclists - campaign group says infrastructure is the real answer

Call for council debate to plan a better Bristol

by John Stevenson   December 6, 2013  

Cycling in Bristol (CC licensed by tejvanphotos)


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.

19 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I do like the idea of the 'conditional' ticket for the lights, and £50 will get you something 1/2 decent

posted by jason.timothy.jones [305 posts]
6th December 2013 - 13:52


As a cyclist in Bristol, I think this is fantastic. Especially the conditional tickets. Theres definate lack of education, and awareness about both motorists and cyclists responsibilities on the road. All too often I see cyclist running red lights, which I feel ashamed to be a cyclist. Then again, all to often I see drivers in box junctions and on their phones yet again.

I hope everyone takes on their responsibilities and learn to respect each other and be patient. Most of all, we all enjoy the roads!

posted by Cookie91 [20 posts]
6th December 2013 - 13:55


Good initiative, interesting that some motorists drive into ASZ's because of ignorance rather than impatience or laziness. Ignorance is much easier to address.

I do wonder how many of the bike lights purchased as a result of conditional tickets are BS approved. Not many I guess as they are pretty hard to find. In which case the police are endorsing use of non-BS lights. Hmm.

posted by horizontal dropout [234 posts]
6th December 2013 - 14:08


Or they could just re-design the public highways, oh wait no money in that it seems.

posted by northstar [1113 posts]
6th December 2013 - 14:13


I feel like we're at a bit of a tipping point for cycling in Bristol. One the one hand we've seen healthy growth in cycling over the past few years, and now there's a plan for a comprehensive network of high-quality cycling infrastructure, much better than the piecemeal stuff we have at the moment, which the Mayor and the council are making all the right noises about.

On the other hand, we've got vast areas (especially on the outskirts) where the number of people cycling remains miserably low, a virulently anti-cycling local media, and residents who scream blue murder at anything that impinges on their right to drive and park where they like (even if driving in Bristol is almost as dire as London).

If you haven't yet, chuck your signature on this, and give the council and the Mayor the mandate they need to improve things for cyclists even further:

posted by Mr Agreeable [162 posts]
6th December 2013 - 14:16


the comment that sticks in my mind, drivers don't know the law regarding ASLs. If they don't know, rather than claiming ignorance (not really a defence though)

Should we be retesting drivers? The roads change, signs come and go.

On the cyclists on the pavement, do we know why, are these people concerned about using the road? are they taking shortcuts and hoping to get away with it?

It is a pity the police can't get a bit more detail in these campaigns, try and find out what drives people to do what they do.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1886 posts]
6th December 2013 - 14:17


Dare I suggest that it's easier to claim ignorance than confess?

And that some cyclists jump red because their stop box is blocked? After all, if you commit the offence of crossing the line to get ahead of a blocked box, you're not committing another offence by continuing.

posted by a.jumper [833 posts]
6th December 2013 - 15:25


Lots of comments on the bad bad car drivers, I'm more annoyed by idiot cyclists who don't have lights and run red lights, running a red light or riding without lights is far more dangerous than driving into ASL, although I accept that it puts cyclists in danger, but nowhere near as running a red light !

posted by mikeprytherch [220 posts]
6th December 2013 - 16:30



posted by northstar [1113 posts]
6th December 2013 - 16:35


mikeprytherch wrote:
Lots of comments on the bad bad car drivers, I'm more annoyed by idiot cyclists who don't have lights and run red lights, running a red light or riding without lights is far more dangerous than driving into ASL, although I accept that it puts cyclists in danger, but nowhere near as running a red light !

Well that depends on the red light jump, doesn't it. Rolling into an ASL in primary position once the light is red is technically jumping the light, even if you stop behind the front line. Stopping in front of the front line is technically jumping the light if you cross the line when the light is red. Neither of these is dangerous in the slightest.

posted by teaboy [289 posts]
6th December 2013 - 16:39


This is good. The drivers in ASLs, and the light jumping cyclists got a ticking off.

Unlike in Manchester where the ASL drivers got a leaflet and the cyclists got a fine.

posted by pmanc [184 posts]
6th December 2013 - 16:39


mikeprytherch wrote:
Lots of comments on the bad bad car drivers, I'm more annoyed by idiot cyclists who don't have lights and run red lights, running a red light or riding without lights is far more dangerous than driving into ASL, although I accept that it puts cyclists in danger, but nowhere near as running a red light !

Well done you, bravely putting finger to keyboard to say what no local journalist or pub bore has ever dared to say before.

posted by Mr Agreeable [162 posts]
6th December 2013 - 17:06


Very good idea about the conditional ticket. This was mentioned before by someone who commented on the lad being arrested having been stopped without lights.

It's a shame something similar cant be constructed for the ASL's.
We do use a letter of caution for very minor traffic offences which means the driver is recorded on our system and it states that offence he was stopped for so should he / she be stopped again they cant claim ignorance. I dont know if this is just in our force or nationwide.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3232 posts]
6th December 2013 - 17:17


"how great the need is to educate cyclists and motorists on proper, safe use of the road”

Given all motorists (and the 80% or so of cyclists who drive) ought already to be educated on 'proper, safe use of the road' (I may be wrong but isn't that one of the aims behind the requirement of having a driver's licence?), what good are more education campaigns likely to do?

Most motorists already also know it's an offence to speed, park in restricted areas and do lots of other things while driving, but it doesn't stop them doing it, so I don't really think education is the answer.

If licences are being dished out to people who still can't or won't drive safely, then surely it's time to totally review the current system.

posted by congokid [233 posts]
6th December 2013 - 18:04


I keep reading this special word: Infrastructure.

While I agree infrastructure has become important its road users; car drivers, van drivers, lorry drivers, motorcycle riders and cyclists that have, over the last few years, become complacent with their safety, the safety consideration to other road users and a respect for the highway code and traffic law that to me seems to be the number one problem.

Why has it come to this? Well, consider that your county's Police force has whittled away its traffic officers for one. For another consider that other Police patrol officers are either too damn busy to go out traffic policing, or there are not enough officers to make a difference like they used to.

Road users dont give a flying toss anymore. The amount of deliberate RLJ's I see in cars is ridiculous. Im not talking amber gamblers here, I am talking deliberate, speed up, dont give a toss its red, I'm going through jumpers. The speeding in the towns and outside schools is ridiculous (taxi drivers take note here, you are all speeders, doing 45mph in 30 zones because you need to pick up that next fare and time is money and you come past me at that speed in a 30 zone so close my elbow can taste your paintwork.)

Road users have stopped caring and its all because there is very little traffic law enforcement these days. Road users perceive they can get away with loads of stuff now and they do because there is no longer any deterrent or penalty for them to worry about.

I've seen Police officers in cars see other drivers go through red lights and just shake their heads, exchange a couple of words and calmly drive off the other way. All these operations through the year jsut make people think about about road safety and respecting the rules of the road for about.... all of 5 minutes.

None of it has anything to do with infrastructure.

posted by Critchio [143 posts]
6th December 2013 - 18:39


conditional tickets sound great

but can these be issued to motorists in ASL on the condition they they actually attend an education seminar and basic ASL test at a training centre on a Saturday morning when they'd rather be out shopping?

rather than just receiving "words of advise" from an overworked Police officer

it seems skewed that the cyclist's conditional ticket involves cyclists making a purchase of lights (which they should have), and then making a trip to the local Police station to prove this purchase has been made and fitted to bicycle

when the motorists just receive some words of advise at the time, with no further costs or inconvenience

surely if ignorance of the law can be used as some sort of excuse about ASL by motorists who hold a valid driving licence; a cyclist who has not had to legally take any proficiency or cycling test to ride a bicycle on the highway is in a much stronger legal position to claim ignorance about RLJ or pavement,etc.

posted by hampstead_bandit [476 posts]
6th December 2013 - 22:05


Wonder where they've been? I cycle commute through Bristol every day and I haven't seen any sign of a copper.

posted by mbrads72 [158 posts]
7th December 2013 - 13:43


Seems as if the Police are trying to make a difference here ? How can giving advice to a DRIVER and ticketing a Cyclist , persuade people that they are doing a GOOD JOB ? Earning " brownie Points with their shift super ?

Why has the council gone to the EXPENSE of creating a " PLAN " when they don't want to complete it until 2025 ? Short of brains , or trying to " pass the buck "?

Regardless of the expense of the lights , there is the inconvenience factor for the cyclists , whereas the motorist , what record was there of THEIR CHAT ?

Help this Guy out ! Getting bullied by big Business !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [409 posts]
8th December 2013 - 19:39


They've been on Gloucester Rd, at the junction with Ashley Rd, with Sommerville Rd and with Zetland Rd, and over on Whiteladies.

Seen them half a dozen times or so as I commute up to Filton from the centre ...

posted by Sherlock Ohms [16 posts]
8th December 2013 - 21:58