Like many of their colleagues across the country, police in Southend-on-Sea in Essex have launched a campaign targeting anti-social cyclists – but rather than issuing £30 fixed penalty notices to those falling foul of the law, they are instead offering training to help transgressors mend their ways.
Despite signs in the town centre warning that certain streets are pedestrian-only, Essex County Constabulary say that pavement cyclists are a regular topic of complaint from the public.
In the past, fixed penalty notices were issued to those ignoring the law, but now officers are adopting a softer approach in the hope of finding a permanent solution to the problem.
Dubbed Operation Revolution, a new campaign aims to get offenders to participate in free training sessions organised by Bikeability on the streets where they regularly ride.
Sergeant Bill Potter, who is running the policing side of the initiative, told the Essex Echo: “While many still consider cycling on the pavement a minor offence, it is one which is constantly being raised to us during public meetings as a matter of local priority. After all, it affects a great many of us and is a very dangerous practice.”
Acknowledging that some cyclists may be nervous about taking to the road in the first place, he added, “we also appreciate roads have become busier in general. Roads may be perceived as an unsafe place for cyclists, so we’ve also needed to look at the reasons why cyclists choose to use the pavement.”
Meanwhile, the Deputy Leader of Southend Council,Conservative Councillor John Lamb, told the paper: “As part of our agenda to promote sustainable development in Southend, the council has invested heavily in cycling initiatives since becoming a cycling demonstration town last year. Bikeability is just one of the schemes we are offering,” he continued. “I have completed it myself and am now much more confident about road cycling around the borough.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.