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…Only one of which is illegal, Operation Bluenose aims to "stop and educate cyclists"...

Essex police have stopped over 120 cyclists in a seasonal operation aimed at improving cycle safety in a number of bike accident blackspots around the county.

Since Operation Bluenose started on January 13, 120 cyclists have been stopped. Police have been advising those without lights to get some, but have also been suggesting riders use high-visibility clothing and helmets.

It’s not the first time this winter that Essex police have been trying to get that message across. In November last year, their ‘Let’s Look Out For Each Other’ initiative enlisted Movistar professional rider Alex Dowsett in a campaign aimed at encouraging drivers and cyclists to share the road.

In the launch press release for that campaign, drivers were advised to wait patiently and pass safely, while cyclists were advised not to ride two-abreast on narrow roads; never ride three-abreast; wear helmets; and not jump red lights.

Dowsett was once knocked off his bike by a van which overtook too close to him with a couple of passengers laughing and shouting abuse at him. On another occasion he ran into the back of a car that overtook him then jammed on the brakes to turn left immediately in front of him.

Alex’s mum, Jan Dowsett, has also been a casualty in a cycle-car collision. She took up cycling after being inspired by her son’s race and time trial victories but while out on her bike she was knocked over by a car towing a caravan that overtook her but pulled in too early. She fell off and shattered her shoulder. She has not been able to ride a bike since that collision.

An incident with a cyclist while driving his car that convinced Alex that both riders and drivers needed to change their ways.

He said: “I was driving through London when a cyclist tried to get through an impossible gap between my car and the kerb. I jammed my brakes on and the rider got through, but he turned and shouted abuse at me.

“Cycling is my life, I know that cyclists can be vulnerable and when driving I always give riders plenty of room. But when that rider made an impossible manoeuvre it made me realise that it’s not just drivers who need to be more safety conscious.”

Department for Transport statistics indicate that in the majority of car-bike collisions, the cyclist is not at fault. A 2009 report from the department said that riders jumping red lights, wearing dark clothing or riding at night without lights are to blame for less than 7% of crashes that result in a cyclist being seriously injured.

Nevertheless, the aim of Operation Bluenose, according to the police, is to find riders at risk and urge them to use more safety equipment such as lights, helmets and high visibility clothing. Officers are also using social media to ask cyclists to identify which areas and cycle routes should be investigated.

Essex police say that January, February and March are the months when road collisions involving cyclists increase, mainly during dark evenings when people cycle home from school, college or work.

In the corresponding period in 2013 there was a 50 per cent increase in recorded casualties in the Basildon District alone. Other districts such as Chelmsford and Colchester have also seen an increase, but to a lesser extent.

Sgt Graham Freeman, who is running the operation, said: “The majority of [cyclists] who had no lights or reflective clothing assured us that they would have some as quickly as possible. Only one or two people had to be reminded that there would be a £50 fine if they failed to comply and were stopped and warned for a second time.

“About 50 per cent had no lights and were given verbal warnings. About 50 per cent had no reflective clothing and 75 per cent had no cycle helmet.

“The approach was initially to stop and educate cyclists including those riding without lights, on footpaths, in pedestrian-only areas or riding the wrong way down one-way streets. We will also be handing out the ‘Let’s Look Out For Each Other’ literature when talking with people.

“We will also be showing riders a map which outlines where the cycle road collision have happened in their areas. Our stop checks will be at same of these collision sites so showing a map will have much more of an impact than just giving words of advice.”

“Obviously if further action is deemed necessary to drive home the need for improved safety, we will issue fixed penalty tickets.”

The operation will continue until the end of March.

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.

46 comments

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Leodis [402 posts] 2 years ago
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There will always be nobbers no matter the mode of transport on our roads.

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 2 years ago
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Good!! About time, and I'm from Essex ...

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middlering [57 posts] 2 years ago
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About that £50 fine that's written about: what would it be for? Are hi-vis, helmets or lights compulsory in Essex, or is there another reason for the fines?

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Oh wonderful, more victim blaming and it keeps on getting lapped up by the safety brigade..............zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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sim1515 [141 posts] 2 years ago
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middlering wrote:

About that £50 fine that's written about: what would it be for? Are hi-vis, helmets or lights compulsory in Essex, or is there another reason for the fines?

I'm pretty sure lights are legally required in the hours of darkness, and not just in Essex too (Highway Code Rule 60 - At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit). They also mentioned stopping people riding where they shouldn't be, perhaps the fines are for that as well?

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

They also mentioned stopping people riding where they shouldn't be, perhaps the fines are for that as well?

such as on the pavement.....

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oozaveared [936 posts] 2 years ago
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Lights fine.

High Viz - maybe advice to people dressed all in black or camo gear. I don't mind that that they point out that being more visible from further away is a good idea.

Helmets - Maybe it's the police that need educating. They aren't designed for protection against road collisions. They are rated for 50 joules of energy absorption so that's about the same as banging your head on the desk. They might do you some good against a nasty cut or a graze in a bike race or mountain biking but in a collision with a car even a low speed one they don't make a difference. They even add to injury if the impact has any rotational force.

eg the helmet gets you 50 - 100 joules of impact protection. Get hit by a smart car doing just 22mph (10 m/s) and the impact is of a magnitude of 40,000 joules.

They might as well check you are wearing a St Christopher medal or have a rabbits foot in your saddle bag. They are just as much use as a helmet.

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sim1515 [141 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:
Quote:

They also mentioned stopping people riding where they shouldn't be, perhaps the fines are for that as well?

such as on the pavement.....

I obviously don't know the the exact details, just what was reported: "on footpaths, in pedestrian-only areas or riding the wrong way down one-way streets".

I was merely pointing out that there may be other reasons for the fines apart from the ones middlering mentioned.

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OldRidgeback [2567 posts] 2 years ago
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Riding without lights when it's dark is stupid and illegal. Helmets and hi viz are not legal requirements and the safety benefits are at best, questionable.

If I was stopped and given a talking to for not having hi viz or a helmet when riding my bike, I'd be pretty annoyed for being patronised. Surely Essex Police have better things to do and a better understanding of what's needed to reduce casualties on the road system.

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pmr [196 posts] 2 years ago
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"They might as well check you are wearing a St Christopher medal or have a rabbits foot in your saddle bag. They are just as much use as a helmet."

Brilliant! lol.

Aside from the helmet argument which will go on and on, the main problem here, as always seems to be the case in this country is that these "initiatives" might be supposed to have some input from cyclists but they are essentially designed by drivers/non-cyclists
What needs to happen is either they spend a year riding on the roads before they start to draft these things up, or they actually let cyclist-drivers design them. (i.e people that both drive and cycle regularly) The bigger picture is of course not enough people ride bikes which hopefully is getting better.

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 2 years ago
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There have got to be better uses of police man power rather than messing with cyclists who aren't wearing a helmet

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gazza_d [458 posts] 2 years ago
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It must be great to live in Essex where the crime and anti-social driving rates are so low the police have to dream up imaginary laws about clothing and helmets so they have something to do.

In the dark with no lights? Fair cop. Stopped during the daylight for any of lights/clothing/helmet is harassment pure and simple.

If Essex pold are serious about improving road safety, they would stand on corners target motorists using phones, speeding and amber-gambling/RLJ.

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vbvb [567 posts] 2 years ago
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in the majority of car-bike collisions, the cyclist is not at fault... Nevertheless, the aim of Operation Bluenose, according to the police, is to find riders

I like how these stories these days have an aside halfway through, a pause to agree we all know the approach is wrong, before continuing with the story. It saves me getting wound up and is therefore very much appreciated!

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Critchio [175 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

“I was driving through London when a cyclist tried to get through an impossible gap between my car and the kerb. I jammed my brakes on and the rider got through, but he turned and shouted abuse at me.

“Cycling is my life, I know that cyclists can be vulnerable and when driving I always give riders plenty of room. But when that rider made an impossible manoeuvre it made me realise that it’s not just drivers who need to be more safety conscious.”

I believe this happens quite a lot and it doesn't really help cyclists.

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argotittilius [23 posts] 2 years ago
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Good move essex, real good move  41
Seriously though, how much money do you think they're spending on this? A better idea might be perhaps to fund officers to actually investigate the hundreds of car on cyclist incidents. Or maybe they could pay for a refresher course in "using discretion" for PCSOs

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argotittilius [23 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm not a racist, but...

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Paul_C [416 posts] 2 years ago
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lights between sunset and dawn maybe, but high viz and helmets... get stuffed...

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fret [37 posts] 2 years ago
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I get fed up EVERY DAY with cyclist who don't have lights on. Yes, I cycle 9 miles each way every day to work, I don't drive often. These idiots just don't realise that you cannot see them.
It should be compulsory to knock off cyclists with no lights as well.
A spot fine should be just that as well. Hand over the bike if you don't have lights and the Police keep it until you can collect WITH SOME LIGHTS. If you don't collect then the bike is sold or crushed.
Lights cost less than a tenner a pair from Wilkinsons and there is no excuse not to have them fitted.

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cjdavis [1 post] 2 years ago
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Do you really that cyclists who ride without lights should be knocked off? Isn't that a bit aggressive?

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stealth [254 posts] 2 years ago
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Hmm, "Don't ride two-abreast on narrow roads", as far as I am aware we shouldn't ride side by side on major (trunk) roads, but lanes...
I know that we always come off worse in a collision, but this whole 'incentive' reeks of "Why do you want to be in the motorist's way".
Just saying....

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racyrich [240 posts] 2 years ago
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Ah yes, Alex and his hi viz Movistar kit . . . .

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tazo101 [12 posts] 2 years ago
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Let them wear what they want its natural selection.

Join here and give me a hand getting rid of twat cyclist and twat car drivers.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/408115345981295/

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stevengoodfellow [52 posts] 2 years ago
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Fines for no lights at night? Yes.
Compulsory hi-vis clothing? Yes, but only along with hi-vis cars.
Compulsory helmets? Yes, it would save the lives of many car passengers, but full face helmets would effect visibility for drivers so there might need to be a compromise there. Statistical evidence shows that there would also be benefits if pedestrians wore helmets.
By the way what now is the status of the Home Office minister's advice, given when on the spot fines were introduced, that police should use discretion when people cycled on pavements if they feared for their own safety due to motor vehicle traffic?

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jacknorell [957 posts] 2 years ago
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fret wrote:

It should be compulsory to knock off cyclists with no lights as well.

If you wouldn't say it at a dinner party, don't type it when anonymous.

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Giles Pargiter [63 posts] 2 years ago
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So basically if they are stopping cyclists during daylight, then as they are not commiting a moving traffic offence, they actually have no grounds whatever for stopping them. This means it is straight forward harassment?

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kittybag [1 post] 2 years ago
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Do Essex Police carry out similar campaigns aimed at motorists whoa re driving illegal cars e.g. tyres not meeting required standards, lights not working properly, drivers not wearing seatbelts? What is the legal basis for the police to stop people who may not be doing anything illegal? The police, in my understanding, do not have the power to stop just anyone they fancy however 'noble' the cause.

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ChrisW [7 posts] 2 years ago
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Did they also stop all black and dark-colored cars and tell the owners to go by some reflective stickers?

How about cars not fitted with 5-point racing harnesses, bucket seats and roll cages, all of which have been clearly shown to increase safety during collisions?

If they are not doing these two things then why pick on cyclists alone for not wearing hi-vis clothing or a helmet?

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 2 years ago
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ChrisW wrote:

Did they also stop all black and dark-colored cars and tell the owners to go by some reflective stickers

All cars are fitted with reflectors, the same as motorbikes and the same is also a legal requirement for bicycles.

Too much bullshit on this for my liking, why do we always get in a flap when somebody tries to help us be seen or safe, why do we effectively say.. F**k-off and make the car drivers better whenever advice is given, just because car drivers are the worse offenders doesn't diminish the advice.

I see more bicycles without lights and more bicycles running red lights than cars, and there are more cars on the road than bikes, so who is worse... there... I can't wait to be shot down by all the experts on this forum... but a bike does less damage than a car... yea yea yea

Stuff doesn't have to be legal requirement to be good advice you know, sure you may not agree with the advice and fair enough, don't take it, however all this emotional response doesn't do the cycling community any good.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Giles Pargiter wrote:

So basically if they are stopping cyclists during daylight, then as they are not commiting a moving traffic offence, they actually have no grounds whatever for stopping them. This means it is straight forward harassment?

Spot on, you have no obligation to stop for them.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1166 posts] 2 years ago
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mikeprytherch wrote:

Too much bullshit on this for my liking, why do we always get in a flap when somebody tries to help us be seen or safe, why do we effectively say.. F**k-off and make the car drivers better whenever advice is given, just because car drivers are the worse offenders doesn't diminish the advice.

I see more bicycles without lights and more bicycles running red lights than cars, and there are more cars on the road than bikes, so who is worse... there... I can't wait to be shot down by all the experts on this forum... but a bike does less damage than a car... yea yea yea

Stuff doesn't have to be legal requirement to be good advice you know, sure you may not agree with the advice and fair enough, don't take it, however all this emotional response doesn't do the cycling community any good.

But its not 'advice', its stopping and bothering people in a public place going about their lawful business. That's not 'giving advice' its harassment.

And bicycles sans lights after dark is a separate issue to pestering people about helmets and high-viz. The former is already a legal reason for stopping someone (and therefore is fair enough), the latter two are not.

And if you see more bicycles running red lights than cars I suggest that's because you have the same selective blindness that affects most motorists who comment on that topic. I see far more cars crossing stop lines when the lights are red than I do cyclists. The trouble is people are so habituated to seeing cars do it that they just don't even notice any more (hint - its usually down to failed 'amber gambling' or ASL creeping)

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