Lord Berkeley tables amendments to bill giving PCSOs power to fine reflectorless cyclists

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill in final stages in Lords

by John Stevenson   January 7, 2014  

Houses of Parliament (CC licensed by Rajan Manickavasagam:Flickr)

 

Anthony Gueterbock, Lord Berkeley, is today tabling amendments to a new law that will give Police Community Support Officers the power to impose fines on cyclists who don’t have British Standard pedal reflectors on their bikes.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill introduces a raft of new powers including the replacement of ASBOs with IPNAs (Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance) and the introduction of Public Space Protection Orders which can be used by the police to exclude people from an area (there is no size limit), whether or not they have done anything wrong, according to journalist George Monbiot.

As the law currently stands, bikes are supposed to have pedal reflectors, even though they’re difficult or impossible to fit to most clipless pedals. The British Standard, originally drawn up decades ago has failed to keep up with technology.

It’s unlikely that most police officers even know they’re supposed to be looking out for pedal reflectors. In recent years, during ‘crackdowns’ on cycle safety, the emphasis has been on whether or not cyclists are using lights, and in many cases riders have been given the chance to dodge a fine by turning up at a police station with lights on their bikes.

The CTC’s Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen thinks it’s still unlikely that police and PCSOs will be trying to spot riders who have lights but not reflectors.

“In practice, I think it would be difficult for either a police officer or a PCSO to stop a cyclist for not having reflectors,” said Geffen. “By the time you can see the cyclists’ reflectors, they’ve gone past you!”

But Geffen is concerned that adding this power to the PCSO quiver gives them another stick to beat cyclists with.

He said: “The risk is that this power simply gets used when a local police force decides to have a politically-motivated crack-down on cyclists: stop them, fine them for anything you spot that they are doing wrong, then tell the local media that you’re clamping down on unsafe cyclist behaviour.

“That risk isn’t limited to the issue of reflectors – it relates to all the powers that this Bill is now proposing to give to PCSOs.”

Geffen points out that regular police could also use these new powers in a politically-motivated way, but PCSOs are likely to have an even poorer knowledge of cycling-specific law than officers.

Therefore, he says, there’s “a greater likelihood that cyclists will simply be stopped, and sometimes fined, on completely false pretexts.”

Geffen concedes that a few riders being stopped for lacking reflectors is “not a huge issue in the wider scheme of things. After all, a key aim of CTC’s Road Justice campaign is to call for increased roads policing.”

But, he says, there’s a serious issue about roads policing here. Cyclists have been charged for completely false or misguided reasons, such as the Daniel Cadden case where a rider was stopped for riding on a road rather than a cycle path, or the case of Alex Paxton, issued a fixed penalty notice for riding through a red light when he had crossed a stop line because the advanced stop box at a junction was occupied.

“It’s important to put down a marker about the need for traffic law to be enforced with genuine road safety objectives in mind, and not make it any easier for PCSOs (or police officers for that matter) to simply fine cyclists to satisfy demand from (primarily local) politicians and/or the media,” said Geffen.

That seems to be the aim of Lord Berkely’s amendments. According to cycle campaigner and executive editor of BikeBiz.com, Carlton Reid, Lord Berkeley will be seeking:

* To persuade the Government not to bring into effect the power for PCSOs to fine cyclists for lighting/reflector offences until the relevant regulations have been updated;

* To seek an assurance that PCSOs who are given powers to enforce lighting offences can still do what ordinary police officers do in many areas, namely to give out a fine that can be rescinded if the cyclist without lights turns up at a police station with a working set of lights within (say) 5 working days of the offence being committed;

* To make a wider point about the need for PCSOs to receive cycle-awareness training - and preferably actual cycle training - if they are to be given powers to enforce cycling offences.

43 user comments

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Mi Lord is clearly out of touch with society. Unfortunately rather than addressing the issue of sub standard and dangerous driving his answer is to persecute the cyclist by tapping out a law change amendment proposal on his iPad whilst being chauffeur driven to the House of Lords where he can justify his fat salary and pompous existence.

The law is out of touch, British standards are out of date and this tosspot should be out of a job! Angry

On another note bikes in Belgium and a number of other EU countries need a license and reflectors by law. But then again these countries invest these revenues back into the cycle infrastructure they have!

posted by Clearboy [5 posts]
7th January 2014 - 21:26

15 Likes

Certainly a contentious issue, and not so avoidable once this appears on the insurance industry's list of ways to reduce payouts.

But, if anyone wants to fight fire with fire, may I suggest that we all start questioning the use of clear indicator lenses on modern cars, which render flasher units sometimes impossible to see in daylight from certain angles?

A little bit of sideways "pressure" sometimes works wonders when trying to get the powers that be to do a "u turn".

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
7th January 2014 - 21:44

15 Likes

Enforcing this rule would mean shimano, time, look, speedplay and the rest have not been meeting the legal British requirement. If anything trading standards are at fault for allowing the sale of such dangerous pieces of equipment. Why only the other day I nearly ran over a cyclist on my car. Despite his 5 lights, reflective clothing and fluorescent jacket I failed to see 2 tiny reflectors on his pedals. The crazy lunatic.

Anyway, I ride heel down, you won't see my pedals. Should I stop riding as I am clearly a danger to other road users.

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [397 posts]
7th January 2014 - 22:15

14 Likes

This was intended to be in response to Parkboy but seems to have got in the wrong place.
Your comment is interesting because I seldom get to see what the various reflective devices on my bike look like to a following motorist. Living in Ontario, Canada I an required to have red reflective tape on the rear backstays, and white reflective tape on the front forks. In addition I have a Busch and Muller tail light plus a headlight of the same make, both powered by a Shimano dynamo hub. The tail light includes two circular reflectors like Mickey Mouse ears. Reflectors reflect light back to the source i.e. a car's headlights, in a cone shape. Unfortunately most motorists eye level is above the cone of reflective light, at least when they are fairly close and using dimmed (dipped) headlights.

By way of experiment I shone a Cateye headlight at the back of my bike from about thirty feet. If I hold the light as near to my eye level as I can the amount of reflected light I see is excellent. However when I lower the light to the lowest I can, while standing up straight, that is with the light about as high as the headlights on our Ford Taurus, the amount of reflective light I see is diddly squat. I had the same results a few days ago with my mountain bike positioned in my garage and my Land-Rover Discovery parked about thirty feet behind. While sitting in the vehicle with the headlight dimmed beams on, again I picked up very little light. I would imagine that on a rural road where one has the chance to use main beams, and the vehicle is far enough back to be in the cone of reflected light, then the results would be more positive. However I do wonder how effective reflectors really are.

The late Sheldon Brown of New England has an excellent article on reflectors and their limitations. Personally I do not believe that a reflector can come close to a good LED tail light when considering one's own safety.

posted by Denis B [8 posts]
7th January 2014 - 22:48

13 Likes

A couple of your posters (clearboy and simmo) seem to think that Lord Berkeley (Road Danger Reduction Forum President) is part of this nonsense of picking on cyclists for the most ludicrous of "reasons".

In fact he is trying to STOP it, if you read the piece. And he spends a lot of time (e.g. as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group) in addressing dangerous/careless etc. driving.

And he does not go about by chauffeur driven car. He rides a bike.

He has to do it by trying to amend the law. It can be more effective to do that than saying the law is a load of b"""""ks.

Dr. Robert Davis, Chair RDRF

posted by ChairRDRF [169 posts]
7th January 2014 - 22:57

33 Likes

Another red herring, what's going to be next, every cyclist wrapped up in bubble wrap?

posted by northstar [1110 posts]
7th January 2014 - 22:59

9 Likes

Storm in a teacup, just because PCSOs can fine you doesn't mean that they will actually try to or realistically be able to stop you. Have you seen a PCSO? They make PC Plum from Balamory look like Hercule Poirot and none of them can ride a bike without looking comical.

posted by drfabulous0 [403 posts]
7th January 2014 - 23:02

8 Likes

Even the standard PC can't ride a bike compared to most seasoned / experienced riders in London.

They regulary make themselves look like idiots trying to outrace "roadies" on their UAV.

posted by northstar [1110 posts]
7th January 2014 - 23:16

11 Likes

We can put people on the moon and access all the info in the world from a device that fits in our pockets, but we still can't find a way to stop some people commenting on stories without reading them first... At Wits End

Otis Bragg's picture

posted by Otis Bragg [130 posts]
7th January 2014 - 23:33

15 Likes

According to #60: "At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85)."

However, instructions given to participants of Bikeability state that reflective surfaces on shoes, ankles, tights, leggings or overshoes are a reasonable alternative when using 'clipless' pedals, as is a rear light that will act as a rear reflector if it's main light fails (i.e. if you have a light you don't need a reflector, the reflector is there only in case the main light fails).

So don't worry about it so long as you are visible and have fun out running the community bobbies because your reflectives are silver not amber. If you do get pulled over make sure you're not a bell-sniffer, be nice and apologise so they can let you go with a proverbial slap on the wrist instead of being a lady garden and getting yourself arrested and fined!

posted by Initialised [193 posts]
7th January 2014 - 23:42

14 Likes

ChairRDRF wrote:
A couple of your posters (clearboy and simmo) seem to think that Lord Berkeley (Road Danger Reduction Forum President) is part of this nonsense of picking on cyclists for the most ludicrous of "reasons".

In fact he is trying to STOP it, if you read the piece. And he spends a lot of time (e.g. as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group) in addressing dangerous/careless etc. driving.

And he does not go about by chauffeur driven car. He rides a bike.

He has to do it by trying to amend the law. It can be more effective to do that than saying the law is a load of b"""""ks.

Dr. Robert Davis, Chair RDRF

I suspect the reason for this unfortunate misunderstanding is the way the title of this article is worded.

"Lord Berkeley tables amendments to bill giving PCSOs power to fine reflectorless cyclists"

Can, in fact, be read in two entirely different ways. Though if Lord Berkeley were truly the villain I think there would probably be a comma after 'bill'.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [751 posts]
8th January 2014 - 0:50

19 Likes

ChairRDRF wrote:
A couple of your posters (clearboy and simmo) seem to think that Lord Berkeley (Road Danger Reduction Forum President) is part of this nonsense of picking on cyclists for the most ludicrous of "reasons".

In fact he is trying to STOP it, if you read the piece. And he spends a lot of time (e.g. as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group) in addressing dangerous/careless etc. driving.

And he does not go about by chauffeur driven car. He rides a bike.

He has to do it by trying to amend the law. It can be more effective to do that than saying the law is a load of b"""""ks.

Dr. Robert Davis, Chair RDRF

But didn't you know it's far more fun to spew unfounded prejudice on a cycling site?

Thanks for the counterpoint.

posted by jacknorell [576 posts]
8th January 2014 - 1:00

13 Likes

More worrying than pedal reflectors, the new bill effectively ciminalises 'being annoying'. There are many selfish and intolerant people who consider my very presence on the road as 'being annoying'. This bill gives them a lever to make me go away.

Consider the current situation of intolerance towards cycling in the New Forest. This bill would make it very easy for some influential people to find a sympathetic magistrate and effectively ban cycling on public roads.

posted by qwerky [150 posts]
8th January 2014 - 9:09

14 Likes

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

I suspect the reason for this unfortunate misunderstanding is the way the title of this article is worded.

"Lord Berkeley tables amendments to bill giving PCSOs power to fine reflectorless cyclists"

Well this is road.cc, that's how it's done here. Only last week I read an article on here which should probably have been entitled "Cyclists and Shopkeepers United in Calls for Better Infrastructure." But in fact was reported under the headline "Cyclists Vs Motorists in Battle."

posted by drfabulous0 [403 posts]
8th January 2014 - 9:38

8 Likes

ChairRDRF wrote:
A couple of your posters (clearboy and simmo) seem to think that Lord Berkeley (Road Danger Reduction Forum President) is part of this nonsense of picking on cyclists for the most ludicrous of "reasons".

In fact he is trying to STOP it, if you read the piece. And he spends a lot of time (e.g. as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group) in addressing dangerous/careless etc. driving.

And he does not go about by chauffeur driven car. He rides a bike.

He has to do it by trying to amend the law. It can be more effective to do that than saying the law is a load of b"""""ks.

Dr. Robert Davis, Chair RDRF

I read the article and was wondering why there were so many negative comments about Lord Berkeley.
Some people need to read more carefully first before commenting.

posted by thereverent [322 posts]
8th January 2014 - 9:47

7 Likes

This is very close minded. Although yes I strongly disagree with the reflector thing, it's such a minor, insignificant part of this bill that the government won't care. Compared to the forced mnarriage, dangerous dogs and extradition (etc.) sections of this bill, they won't even notice anything about cycling becuase franklly, they won't even notice it.

The rest of the bill is serious (and important) stuff.

Who of you runs regular reflectors on bikes? Are they not law too? And bells? Come on people; it won't affect your life in any way. Just ride safe and sensible.

posted by alexholt3 [52 posts]
8th January 2014 - 9:54

3 Likes

I also didn't realise until I got right to the end that Berkeley is against it- the headline suggests he's for it and there's not much in the article to say otherwise until the very last paragraph.

Title change needed!

posted by Chuck [435 posts]
8th January 2014 - 10:10

4 Likes

God help people on Speedplays Applause

posted by racyrich [152 posts]
8th January 2014 - 10:42

9 Likes

To persuade the Government not to bring into effect the power for PCSOs to fine cyclists for lighting/reflector offences UNTIL the relevant regulations have been updated.

posted by northstar [1110 posts]
8th January 2014 - 10:42

8 Likes

mike the bike wrote:
My Specialized shoes have tiny reflectors on the toes and heels. If my shoes are fixed to the pedals (by the cleats) could it be argued that the reflectors are the same?

Like anybody gives a toss.

excellent point.

Clipless pedals are part of an overall system requiring a shoe to be clipped on before use. The shoe is effectively the other part of the pedal. If the shoe has reflective surfaces on the rear then the whole pedal system has a reflector.

As it happens, I use spds for commuting and I do have the reflectors fitted. What is more the reflectors are on a plastic base that runs along the bottom (other side) of a double sided pedal. The base is symmetrical and the result is that the pedal is always in the perfect face up position. Two birds one stone. And SPDs on MTB shoes also have the cleat recessed so, no tap dancing if you walk anywhere.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [745 posts]
8th January 2014 - 12:18

6 Likes

It's bollocks - you just state that your 'pedal system' does include reflectors - on the shoes which are fixed to the pedal.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3474 posts]
8th January 2014 - 13:20

6 Likes

I still stand by my view that the house of lords are a bunch of inbred morons.

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [397 posts]
8th January 2014 - 13:56

7 Likes

Simmo72 wrote:
I still stand by my view that the house of lords are a bunch of inbred morons.

Currently, just 11 per cent of the 780 members of the House of Lords are hereditary peers.

Or are you suggesting that life peers are inbred? Thinking

http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/lords/composition-of-the-...

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8513 posts]
8th January 2014 - 14:52

7 Likes

Simon_MacMichael wrote:
Simmo72 wrote:
I still stand by my view that the house of lords are a bunch of inbred morons.

Currently, just 11 per cent of the 780 members of the House of Lords are hereditary peers.

Or are you suggesting that life peers are inbred? Thinking

http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/lords/composition-of-the-lords/

I used to go out with a girl who has since been made a life peer. She was an absolute idiot. Obviously.

posted by Mat Brett [1959 posts]
8th January 2014 - 15:13

6 Likes

Is this not indicative of cheap policing which was the cry when PCSO's were first introduced, they are not trained to the same standard as regular police so how can they be trusted to have an understanding of the laws governing road use by cyclists?

posted by McDuff73 [71 posts]
8th January 2014 - 16:45

5 Likes

The whole bill stinks, far beyond the bicycle related stuff.
At Wits End Silly Angry

Dedicated cycling price comparison | http://www.leadoutbikes.com

posted by mckechan [198 posts]
8th January 2014 - 18:21

6 Likes

From reading some of the comments it seems that some people believe the requirement for amber pedal reflectors (on bikes manufactured after 1985) is something new. It has been the law under the “Road Vehicle Light Regulations” since at least 1989, that’s a quarter of century !

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1989/1796/schedule/20/made

And as someone pointed out it’s in the Highway Code – Rule 60.

As it’s been the law for some 25 years now and I don’t believe they have been many, if any at all, cases of the police “nicking” someone for not having pedal reflectors in all that time, I really don’t think there is anything to worry about.

Though I do think the 3 points Lord Berkeley is making are spot on, and it’s good to know that some one in such a position that can influence laws is looking out for the interests of cyclists Smile

posted by Pete B [17 posts]
8th January 2014 - 19:19

7 Likes

posted by Some Fella [824 posts]
8th January 2014 - 19:19

2 Likes

ChairRDRF wrote:

He has to do it by trying to amend the law. It can be more effective to do that than saying the law is a load of b"""""ks.

Highly debatable. The current dynamic plays out as something like this:

1. Anti-cyclist git proposes some birch-em-and-conscript-em legislation
2. Play-the-system politician proposes a watered down version in which mere tarring and feathering is proposed as a "realistic compromise"
3. End result, the inevitable ratchet of state intrusion on all aspects of life grinds on

If his amendments were accepted then will it still be the case that:

PCSOs can give fines to cyclists, yet they cannot give fines to motorists parking in bicycle lanes?

posted by Ush [437 posts]
8th January 2014 - 20:59

4 Likes

I think you are wrong on the licence requirement in Belgium and possibly most other countries.
It was tried in France decades ago but discontinued as it was shown to be impractical.

Coordinator Sevenoaks Cycle Forum,
CTC Right to Ride Rep

posted by Reg Oakley [5 posts]
11th January 2014 - 11:40

3 Likes