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Crackdown continues on cyclists legally riding without helmets and high-visibility clothing

An Essex police officer has claimed that cyclists need to be more safety-conscious to spare families the heartbreak of a visit from an officer bearing bad news.

Speaking to the Essex Chronicle’s Joe Sturdy, PC Deborah Gray said: “If families have to see a white-hatted officer at their door, then it’s horrible because they just know why they are there.

“If cyclists were more safety-conscious then families would not have to see that.”

Police in Chelmsford are currently engaged in an exercise to improve safety and reduce casualties among cyclists. Operation Bluenose is claimed to be targeting both cyclists and motorists, but the force’s statements and press reports make scant mention of drivers.

“Operation Bluenose aims to identify at risk riders and urge them to use more safety equipment such as lights, helmets and high visibility clothing,” the police said when the exercise was announced.

PC Gray said she had spoken to a rider who was dressed entirely in black.

She said: “He said ‘If a car cannot see me he should not be driving’.

“He only wears his helmet when he is going on long cycle rides because he is stop-start, stop-start [in the town].”

As well as telling riders not to wear perfectly normal clothes, police are also encouraging them to wear helmets.

Sergeant Graham Freeman, who is running the operation, said: “The most common response we get is that it’s a man thing [not to wear a helmet]. We think helmets reduce the number of injuries.

“Men do generally not like to wear helmets. I have been to many accidents where cyclists have got head injuries. They can be pretty serious injuries.”

Around 90 cyclists were stopped in Chelmsford on Friday and police had previously stopped around 120 in Basildon.

Sgt Freeman said: “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.”

Commenters on the Essex Chronicle’s story are not impressed. PaulM132 said: “Someone should tell Essex Police that there is no legal requirement to wear a helmet, or any particular type of clothing, while cycling. There is no requirement to carry lights - only where cycling in hours of legal darkness.

"And there is certainly no basis for telling cyclist that they are responsible for their own safety. That is like saying that they should wear a bullet proof vest in case a gunman is on the loose.”

One commenter, 04smallmj doubts the crackdown is even necessary: “I used to cycle in Chelmsford a lot and it was probably the best place that I've cycled and lived in, so it's a shame and a bit embarrasing to see this.

"I actually ditched my helmet and hi viz while living there so I would definitely be one of the ‘naughty cyclists’ who have been given victim blaming advice. I also think that the quote ‘we *think* helmets reduce the number of injuries’ says a lot too.”

Izzy_G added: “The health benefits of cycling far outweigh the dangers, whether one wears a helmet or not, so we should be doing as much as we can to get more people on their bikes.

"Campaigns like this, which stress the dangers of cycling do just the opposite by discouraging the very people we want to get on their bikes.”

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.

98 comments

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Stumps [3496 posts] 3 years ago
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Ah Mr Stevenson another story by yourself about helmet use ???

To be honest the cop and Essex need to take a long hard look at themselves for spouting such crap.

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jacknorell [972 posts] 3 years ago
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Maybe Essex police should start ensuring drivers keep to the limits and/or drive according to the circumstances. Then they can, you know, patrol and cite dangerous / careless drivers?

Victim blaming... and they really should know better.

Maybe ask a few cycling colleagues before being interviewed/ designing a road traffic safety initiative?

Would be quite helpful if they monitored those that kill/maim when they cause issues? A helmet doesn't help much being left-hooked by a minivan!

Oh, and if people are riding their bikes like knobs, give them a talking to as well.

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Goldfever4 [332 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

"And there is certainly no basis for telling cyclist that they are responsible for their own safety. That is like saying that they should wear a bullet proof vest in case a gunman is on the loose.”

This.

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mrchrispy [492 posts] 3 years ago
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OMFG...its not a million miles away from the old tosh of "If girls were more dressed more appropriately they wouldn’t get sexually assualted"

How about target the source of a danger and not the victims

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chadders [93 posts] 3 years ago
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Even more excellent use of tax payers money, When Essex has the lowest crime rates in the country I will take operation bullsh!t seriously ( sorry Blue nose)

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Scoob_84 [418 posts] 3 years ago
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Goldfever4 wrote:
Quote:

"And there is certainly no basis for telling cyclist that they are responsible for their own safety. That is like saying that they should wear a bullet proof vest in case a gunman is on the loose.”

This.

Or if your working on a building site, wear PPE.

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gareth2510 [167 posts] 3 years ago
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Mickey mouse police bolox.
Splendid.

 41

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teaboy [307 posts] 3 years ago
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mrchrispy wrote:

OMFG...its not a million miles away from the old tosh of "If girls were more dressed more appropriately they wouldn’t get sexually assualted"

How about target the source of a danger and not the victims

I'm looking forward to their next anti-rape campaign. Let's see how many times short skirts and chastity belts get a mention...

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A V Lowe [615 posts] 3 years ago
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Best use of resources for Essex Police - investigate a few more crashes and publish the results to show what caused the crashes and how we might prevent a repeat - Woodford in Essex? Well maybe look at why 6 fatal crashes at same junction, as that suggests something fundamentally amiss with the way the road is designed and operated there.

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KnightBiker [81 posts] 3 years ago
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Once again: the Netherlands has no Helmet law and probably the lowest head-injury count for cyclist. For Day to day travel a helmet isn't needed as it's usually too slow to inflict seriuous damage. High visibility gear during the day isn't that helpful either.
As some indicate the problem isn't with cyclist but with overspeeding cars: Great Britain's car drivers aren't used to cyclists yet, and need to be held accountable first to get accustomed to sharing the road.
Cyclist responsibilities can also be addressed, but that needs to be put in accordance with the law. Controlling cyclist in wintertime for carrying lights in dusk was hugely effective in Amsterdam like 10 years ago and has had a long lasting effect.
(now way day's controlling locations get tweeted rapidly making check less effective.)

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don simon [1325 posts] 3 years ago
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The Only Way Is Essex. Classy.

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jova54 [676 posts] 3 years ago
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I especially liked this quote.

“Men do generally not like to wear helmets. I have been to many accidents where cyclists have got head injuries. They can be pretty serious injuries.”

Yeah, particularly when they've been run over by a 2 tonne car or worse.

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mrkeith119 [87 posts] 3 years ago
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I wonder if it would be possible to have the police officers, who were standing round stopping people and telling them that they should be wearing high vis or helmets when it's perfectly legal not to, charged with wasting police time.  21

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Mr. Rossi [36 posts] 3 years ago
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I was riding in a large tightly-formed group in Essex on Sunday. Everyone was wearing helmets, and most had some sort of hiviz in their kit. This didn't stop one driver, coming from the opposite direction, on a straight and wide country road, buzzing us at around 60mph. I braced myself as I thought he was going to clip me with his wing mirror. He passed me with a couple of inches to spare. Utterly terrifying and absolutely baffling behaviour. I wonder how Essex police would have expected our helmets and hiviz to protect us if the driver had misjudged his line? Numpties. If this is the calibre of officer "protecting" me as I ride round Essex I should take my rides and my money elsewhere.

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workhard [400 posts] 3 years ago
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email pcc [at] essex.pnn.police.uk and let the local commissioner what you think about this bollox.

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Mr. Rossi [36 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I was riding in a large tightly-formed group in Essex on Sunday. Everyone was wearing helmets, and most had some sort of hiviz in their kit. This didn't stop one driver, coming from the opposite direction, on a straight and wide country road, buzzing us at around 60mph. I braced myself as I thought he was going to clip me with his wing mirror. He passed me with a couple of inches to spare. Utterly terrifying and absolutely baffling behaviour. I wonder how Essex police would have expected our helmets and hiviz to protect us if the driver had misjudged his line? Numpties. If this is the calibre of officer "protecting" me as I ride round Essex I should take my rides and my money elsewhere.

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Mr. Rossi [36 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I was riding in a large tightly-formed group in Essex on Sunday. Everyone was wearing helmets, and most had some sort of hiviz in their kit. This didn't stop one driver, coming from the opposite direction, on a straight and wide country road, buzzing us at around 60mph. I braced myself as I thought he was going to clip me with his wing mirror. He passed me with a couple of inches to spare. Utterly terrifying and absolutely baffling behaviour. I wonder how Essex police would have expected our helmets and hiviz to protect us if the driver had misjudged his line? Numpties. If this is the calibre of officer "protecting" me as I ride round Essex I should take my rides and my money elsewhere.

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pmr [198 posts] 3 years ago
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Idiots as usual.
If as part of their training they'd spend a few hours riding round town and the country lanes, they'd realise where the problems lie.

Almost every other car doesn't give the room the highway code stipulates yet they are still on at cyclists, beggars belief.

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localsurfer [202 posts] 3 years ago
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Were the policemen wearing their helmets? They've got them, why aren't they wearing them?

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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What they are doing is effectively harassment and illegal.

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Paul_C [512 posts] 3 years ago
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what I want to say on this topic is completely unprintable... (C)omplete (U)tter (N)umpty (T)wonks...

meh...

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Critchio [230 posts] 3 years ago
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It's outrageous enough for them to be tweeted and sshown ones displeasure

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therevokid [1014 posts] 3 years ago
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how the fing hell is a bike helmet going to help you when some
moron in over ton of metal ploughs into you .... gah ... same old
boloxs

 14 102

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mrmo [2094 posts] 3 years ago
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Scoob_84 wrote:
Goldfever4 wrote:
Quote:

"And there is certainly no basis for telling cyclist that they are responsible for their own safety. That is like saying that they should wear a bullet proof vest in case a gunman is on the loose.”

This.

Or if your working on a building site, wear PPE.

your point, on a building site you would have a site risk assessment, or should have done! the HSE will be interested if you haven't!!!! The scaffolding with scaftag's, site demarkation, permits, etc etc. Once all that is in place then you start worrying about hardhats, steel toecaps etc etc.

Helmets don't solve anything, if i clip the kerb and fall whilst wearing a helmet, it may help, if i am hit by a truck it will make f-all difference.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1799 posts] 3 years ago
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Scoob_84 wrote:
Goldfever4 wrote:
Quote:

"And there is certainly no basis for telling cyclist that they are responsible for their own safety. That is like saying that they should wear a bullet proof vest in case a gunman is on the loose.”

This.

Or if your working on a building site, wear PPE.

Not really, no. Why do you think that makes any sense as an analogy? Who are the motorists in your building site analogy? You seem to have erased them from the picture.

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SteppenHerring [342 posts] 3 years ago
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Compare and contrast with police attitude in this video

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FluffyKittenofT... [1799 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Goldfever4 wrote:
Quote:

"And there is certainly no basis for telling cyclist that they are responsible for their own safety. That is like saying that they should wear a bullet proof vest in case a gunman is on the loose.”

This.

Or, given this is the UK and not the US, just a stab-proof vest in case of being knifed! Lets not go over the top!

Anyway, the comment from the police woman that opens the article is quite outrageous.

After years of scandal about their treatment of rape victims and of course the whole Stephen Lawrence farrago, its pretty obvious the police are not exactly at the 'cutting edge' when it comes to thinking through social and moral issues properly. I guess this is just in the nature of a police force (to be fair, I don't think you could find one country anywhere in the world at any historical era where this wasn't the case).

The statement the officer makes is simply demonstrably false. No matter how 'safety conscious' cyclists become, they will still be at risk. The recent cases reported here of cyclists in high-viz with helmets doing nothing wrong yet being killed or injured by motorists who 'had the sun in their eyes' or 'were distracted by a kicking unborn baby', surely illustrate that beyond doubt?

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Argos74 [448 posts] 3 years ago
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Okay, so from recent news... Joseph Reed, hit from behind and killed, whilst wearing helmet and hi viz. Or David Irving, again, hit from behind and killed whilst wearing hi viz and helmet.

Tell me, Essex Police, in such instances, what are you doing to "spare families the heartbreak of a visit from an officer bearing bad news". Maybe, just maybe, addressing driver behaviour? Just a thought.

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Who are the motorists in your building site analogy? You seem to have erased them from the picture.

Found them. PPE would indeed be useful.

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ironmancole [351 posts] 3 years ago
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Unbelievable ignorance...yet strangely unexpected. Like the Jimmy Savile victims, some of whom were supposedly told to be grateful for his attention, we too find ourselves victims in this shadowy age that thankfully, sexual abuse seems to be emerging from.

Most of us have experienced or heard of accounts of police taking no interest in aggressive road behaviour from those like Savile in a greater position of responsibility and effectively discouraged from seeking justice.

Perhaps as vulnerable road users we too should be grateful for the interest some motorists give us as they fly past at 80 with barely a foot of seperation and just be content with being road fodder? Not good Essex police, not good at all.

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rich22222 [166 posts] 3 years ago
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workhard wrote:

email pcc [at] essex.pnn.police.uk and let the local commissioner what you think about this bollox.

Thanks, emailed them my views on operation brownnose.

Tw*ts

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