Metropolitan Police says Operation Safeway has changed road users' behaviour in London

Detailed figures of six-week safety drive show nearly 14,000 fined or summonsed, 3 in 10 of them cyclists

by Simon_MacMichael   January 7, 2014  

Metropolitan Police.jpg

The Metropolitan Police says that it has seen a change of behaviour among road users as a result of its Operation Safeway campaign, which saw 2,500 officers deployed at 170 junctions throughout London following the deaths of six cyclists in a two-week period in November.

The campaign, which has seen nearly 14,000 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) or reports for summons issued, was due to end last Friday 3 January but has been extended further into the new year to reinforce the road safety message.

Detective Chief Superintendent Glyn Jones of the MPS Road Traffic Unit commented: “The public’s response to the operation has been really encouraging.

“We've noticed that road users are generally behaving in a much safer manner, and we have issued fewer fixed penalty notices as the operation has progressed.

"However, a lot of people have taken time off over Christmas and we’re really keen to remind them to stay safe on the roads as they resume their journeys to and from work today.

“This week, officers will be out again at key junctions, advising road users and enforcing the law where necessary. We want 2014 to be a safe year for all road users.”

In his regular Ask Boris radio show on LBC this morning, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "Can I pay tribute to the Met Police and their safety initiative in the past few weeks. Many fines have gone out, many to motorists. There are two sides to the problem."

There were mixed views among people interviewed for a BBC News London report about whether the change in attitudes that DCS Jones claimed had happened as a result of the operation reflected the reality, however.

One female cyclist, wearing a helmet and hi-visibility jacket – during Operation Safeway, some riders were stopped by officers and advised they should be wearing such safety equipment, as recommended in the Highway Code – said: “I always take the same amount of care and it hasn’t affected me personally but I’ve seen cyclists being pulled over.”

Asked if she thought it had affected the behaviour of some cyclists, she replied: “I hope it’s affected the more reckless ones.”

A taxi driver said: “At every junction you see more police around, especially cyclists, you can see them riding a lot proper [sic].”

A male bike rider was asked whether he believed the operation was having an impact. He said: “Not yet. I haven’t noticed it. I think it’s too soon to tell.”

Detailed figures released by the police show that three in ten of the FPNs or reports for summons were given to cyclists, the remainder to motorists, and also show the variety of offences involved:

Cyclists (4,085 FPNs or reports for summons)

Contravening traffic signals = 1,225
Using a pedal cycle without lights at night = 1,598
Cycling on a footway = 988
Other = 274

Motorists (9,733 FPNs or reports for summons)

Contravening traffic signals = 1,056
Using a phone while driving = 2,424
Failing to wear a seatbelt = 2,437
Driving without due care = 87
Driving in a cycle lane = 42
Other (can include driving without insurance and faults with vehicle) = 3,687

Police say that around 900 of those 1,598 FPNs issued to cyclists for riding without lights were cancelled after the riders in question went to designated locations to show that they had fitted lights to their bikes.

As for as the almost 1,000 cyclists given FPNs or reports for summons for riding on the footway is concerned, according to Bikehub’s Cycling and the Law article, official Home Office guidance to the police issued in 1999 and repeated in 2004 (and not, as far as we are aware, rescinded) is:

The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.

The Metropolitan Police added that as well as the FPNs and reports for summons issued, more than 200 people were arrested – there is no breakdown between cyclists and other road users – for a variety offences, many of them unrelated to traffic laws. Police said:

Additionally, 209 arrests were made for traffic offences including dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and drink driving, immigration offences, having an offensive weapon, drugs offences, public order offences, handling stolen goods, assault, criminal damage, theft of bikes and cars, illegal entry, shoplifting, burglary, outraging public decency, failing to stop, malicious communications, child neglect, drunk disorderly, failing to appear at court, sexual assault and breach of an anti-social behaviour order.

21 user comments

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So that's all fine is it then Boris?

This is a sticking plaster over a gaping wound being lauded as a triumph.

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [115 posts]
7th January 2014 - 11:38

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jasecd wrote:
So that's all fine is it then Boris?

This is a sticking plaster over a gaping wound being lauded as a triumph.

Totally agree - it has in no way addressed the fundamental issue, although I'm so glad that 900 people have lights on their bikes that otherwise would not have bothered. Surely the cost of the fine is more than the cost of a set of lights?

The fact remains, however, that London in 2013 was tragically and repeatedly shown to be a place where the danger of cycling is exacerbated by it's poorly laid out infrastructure and overused streets. What action is Boris taking about this? Some pie in the sky (literally) scheme about elevated bike routes? I'd absolutely love to see this plan come to fruition, but somehow doubt it will.

Note that I generally do not consider cycling to be dangerous despite being knocked off my bike twice in 3 years (in Bristol) due to car drivers not paying attention, and not bad road layout. Generally, it's the best way to get around hands down!

posted by Myriadgreen [89 posts]
7th January 2014 - 12:07

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Interesting to see how many other crimes are found out, and suspects arrested, by doing this... Makes you think that road policing could actually be useful, doesn't it? Apart from keeping roads safe, that is.

posted by jacknorell [168 posts]
7th January 2014 - 12:15

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Essentially the operation is a PR exercise - "obey the rules - they're for everyone". This isn't a bad thing (as the numbers show), but it certainly isn't dealing with the very real problems of poorly designed infrastructure that put road-users into conflict with each other. Some fundamental questions about this point of policy still remains - how many of the KSI incidents involved cyclists riding illegally? How many involved motor vehicles being driven illegally? It could well be a fact that none of the riders did anything illegal and yet paid the price for someone else's error combined with the error of ignoring cyclists when designing and building roads.

I do quite like the policing of junctions though, although it's amazing (and concerning) to see the difference when the police are not present...

posted by teaboy [121 posts]
7th January 2014 - 12:37

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Surprised how many people don't wear seatbelts.
Intrigued about the person or persons caught committing sexual assault whilst waiting at the traffic lights.
Londoners, eh?

Chris's picture

posted by Chris [97 posts]
7th January 2014 - 13:04

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At one single junction I crossed today (on foot) I encountered:

A van using the ASL as a gap to squeeze into so as to overtake and jump the queued traffic, while the lights were at red.
Another van driving into the same ASL 'normally' while lights were red
And two more vehicles (both vans) blatantly jumping the red light (and forcing me to wait to cross even though the pedestrian green man was showing).

Can't say I see much change there.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [497 posts]
7th January 2014 - 13:12

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With respect of the non-motoring offenses - were those committed while on the public highway, or is this rather about co-incidentally encountering people who turned out to already have warrants out for their arrest over those other offenses?

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [497 posts]
7th January 2014 - 13:16

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jacknorell wrote:
Interesting to see how many other crimes are found out, and suspects arrested, by doing this... Makes you think that road policing could actually be useful, doesn't it? Apart from keeping roads safe, that is.

There are studies showing a correlation between those committing a whole range of criminal offences and also breaking road traffic laws such as driving without insurance, having a defective vehicle, not wearing a setbelt, not having a licence or being under the influence of drink or drugs while at the wheel.

Insurance firms cottoned onto this some time ago, which is why those with criminal records pay higher vehicle insurance premiums. In effect, the fact they have criminal records suggest they are more likely to carry out that risk taking/law breaking behaviour while behind the wheel and commit traffic offences.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1941 posts]
7th January 2014 - 13:19

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Amazing what happens when the police are allowed on the streets instead of being bogged down in stupid paper work. Who would have thought, police presence equals better behaviour. Perhaps the government should be slashing their budgets to help with other things like crime.

posted by Simmo72 [210 posts]
7th January 2014 - 13:31

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Chris wrote:
Surprised how many people don't wear seatbelts.
Intrigued about the person or persons caught committing sexual assault whilst waiting at the traffic lights.
Londoners, eh?

The only explanation I can think of would be someone being pulled initially for a motoring offence and then an outstanding warrant or such coming to light when they checked their identity.

*edit* as covered by FluffyKitten above, that'll teach me to leave a page unrefreshed.

posted by farrell [1015 posts]
7th January 2014 - 13:31

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Simmo72 wrote:
should be slashing

Obviously meant 'not slashing'

posted by Simmo72 [210 posts]
7th January 2014 - 13:33

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Could we not find a way to do this every day? It could be funded from the fines surely?

More power to plod's roadside elbow I say.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [292 posts]
7th January 2014 - 14:48

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At the junction of Fulham Road and Gunter Grove where the police wait sure enough no scooters/taxis/4x4s/buses etc. in the ASL.

Move one set of lights further along the Fulham Road to Edith Grove and guess what? Same old scooters/taxis/4x4s/buses etc. clogging the ASLs.

Changing people’s behaviour eh? Not yet.

Nice that they park their motorcycle on the pavement as well Sad

Still its great that the rozzers might have actually got the message that they need to be on the streets fighting crime. More of the same please.

posted by Pub bike [14 posts]
7th January 2014 - 17:08

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It won't change mine.

posted by northstar [936 posts]
7th January 2014 - 19:04

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Motorists and Cyclists have been discriminated against here as Pedestrians have not been targeted as well. This morning at Bishopsgate/London Wall traffic lights I noticed the police were out monitoring motor vehicles and bikes making sure they were not contravening any laws (which I didn't see happen), but there were numerous people crossing the road on a red man, surely the rules should apply to all road users and seeing as pedestrians 'cross' the road they are using it. A number of them caused cars/lorries to brake suddenly, but the police did not talk to any of them. I am not saying we go down the route of 'jay walking' but how many times as a cyclist have you had to swerve to avoid a pedestrian who has stepped off the curb in front of you only to be abused by them as if you are in the wrong??

GrooveRidar

posted by GrooveRidar [10 posts]
8th January 2014 - 13:50

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GrooveRidar wrote:
Motorists and Cyclists have been discriminated against here as Pedestrians have not been targeted as well. This morning at Bishopsgate/London Wall traffic lights I noticed the police were out monitoring motor vehicles and bikes making sure they were not contravening any laws (which I didn't see happen), but there were numerous people crossing the road on a red man, surely the rules should apply to all road users and seeing as pedestrians 'cross' the road they are using it. A number of them caused cars/lorries to brake suddenly, but the police did not talk to any of them. I am not saying we go down the route of 'jay walking' but how many times as a cyclist have you had to swerve to avoid a pedestrian who has stepped off the curb in front of you only to be abused by them as if you are in the wrong??

D Oh

Pedestrians crossing the road have not broken any law. They are the most vulnerable road-user, so as a cyclist or driver you have a responsibility to avoid hitting them. People don't just magically 'appear' in the road from nowhere - you can see them everywhere. Look where you're going, ride further away from the kerb and ride to the conditions.

posted by teaboy [121 posts]
8th January 2014 - 14:15

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We are all vulnerabale road users when others do not take care and attention or observe other users.

I didn't say they have broken a law, but that everyone should have a responsiblity to make the roads safer. Someone stepping out in front of oncoming traffic is clearly not doing that. As to your comment "look where your going, ride further away from the kerb" how far away from the curb should I ride? I already stick outside the double yellow lines. Should I ride in the middle of the road and then cause traffic to build up and thus probably get yelled at for hogging the road by a car driver??

People don't magically appear but quite often don't look both ways before stepping out.

GrooveRidar

posted by GrooveRidar [10 posts]
8th January 2014 - 15:00

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GrooveRidar wrote:
We are all vulnerabale road users when others do not take care and attention or observe other users.

I didn't say they have broken a law, but that everyone should have a responsiblity to make the roads safer. Someone stepping out in front of oncoming traffic is clearly not doing that. As to your comment "look where your going, ride further away from the kerb" how far away from the curb should I ride? I already stick outside the double yellow lines. Should I ride in the middle of the road and then cause traffic to build up and thus probably get yelled at for hogging the road by a car driver??

People don't magically appear but quite often don't look both ways before stepping out.

I don't agree. Even though I find some pedestrian behaviour a bit annoying (why, oh why are they drawn by some irresistable force to the cyclist side of a segregated path?) I think ultimately its my duty to watch out for them. Very little of the responsibility for road safety falls on pedestrians, and the law does mostly refect that.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [497 posts]
8th January 2014 - 16:04

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GrooveRidar wrote:
We are all vulnerabale road users when others do not take care and attention or observe other users.

I didn't say they have broken a law, but that everyone should have a responsiblity to make the roads safer. Someone stepping out in front of oncoming traffic is clearly not doing that. As to your comment "look where your going, ride further away from the kerb" how far away from the curb should I ride? I already stick outside the double yellow lines. Should I ride in the middle of the road and then cause traffic to build up and thus probably get yelled at for hogging the road by a car driver??

People don't magically appear but quite often don't look both ways before stepping out.

You should probably be riding at least 1m away from the kerb - this gives you time and space to avoid pedestrians, and helps you be seen from further away by motorists (especially at side roads). It also keeps you out of the door-zone when passing parked cars, and well away from drains. In my experience drivers pass you by giving you a similar amount of space that you give yourself too.

The sooner we have strict liability in this country the better.

posted by teaboy [121 posts]
8th January 2014 - 16:11

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GrooveRidar wrote:
People don't magically appear but quite often don't look both ways before stepping out.

So true. So very true. We see it every day right?

So why, instead of railing against it, don't we learn from it and adapt our riding styles (position and speed) accordingly so we don't have to swerve around people legally going about the mundane chore of crossing a busy road where it suits them? (Red man is a red herring, no law is broken by crossing on a red man+green traffic light)

We can't control what others do. We can control ourselves.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [292 posts]
8th January 2014 - 16:26

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Grooverider. Luckily we don't have idiotic jay walking laws in the UK so as has been said the worst those pedestrians were doing was putting themselves (and possibly the person colliding with them) at risk. No laws or guidelines worse than the green cross code broken.

What I find interesting is that almost as many cars were stopped for junction infringement as cyclists. It's not a surprise but it's a good repost to the 'cyclists run red lights' Daily Fail complaint.

I do wish they'd moved from one junction to another occasionally though. All that has been proven is that if you enforce a junction for 6 weeks people aren't stupid enough that they keep infringing that particular junction.

posted by racingcondor [105 posts]
8th January 2014 - 18:30

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