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Manchester police 'Operation Grimaldi' has been seen by some as heavy handed crackdown on cyclists...

Greater Manchester Police hosted a Twitter chat on cycling on Friday and found themselves under intense criticism for their cycling-related activity over the past year.

At the end of last year we reported how Greater Manchester Police issued 147 fixed penalty notices – the vast majority to cyclists – in an operation designed to encourage bike riders and motorists to share the road safely.

The initiative fell under the force’s Operation Grimaldi campaign and took place from Monday 18 to Wednesday 20 November, with activity centred on Deansgate, Trafford Street/Great Bridewater Street, Wilmslow Road/Platt Lane and Oxford Road.

In Manchester 125 cyclists were issued fixed penalty notices for offences including riding on the pavement or without lights and ignoring red traffic lights, although they could avoid having to pay a fine by attending a cycling awareness event.

Greater Manchester Police tweeted that “93 per cent of 754 cyclists stopped had no formal training since school.”

Under the hashtag #askGMP, the police spoke about cycle safety, but occasionally appeared to come unstuck. ‏@MadCycleLaneMCR said: “#askgmp seemed to be a display of ignorance of road traffic law from the very people who are responsible for enforcing the law!”

One twitter user, @Edwards80 agreed, writing: “The #askgmp thing would be funny if these weren't the people responsible for keeping folks safe on the road. Completely hopeless.”

One example of one area of apparent GMP ignorance was when @Ingatestonian asked: “#askgmp Why no enforcement of @ITV vehicles regularly illegally parking on cycle track outside their new Salford Corrie studios?”

GMP responded: “This is up to @SalfordCouncil to enforce.”

@Ingatestonian stuck to his guns though, saying: “ They can't, it isn't a decriminalised offence. Parking on a marked cycle track.”

The Twitter chat also repeatedly covered the same ground of cyclists reporting bad driving to the team, whose response was that all incidents should be reported by dialling the non-emergency number 101.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.