Cyclist stopped and fined for riding on the M25

Man was using GPS phone app to try and find a quicker route home from work

by John Stevenson   February 25, 2014  

The M25 (CC licensed image by Highways Agency:Flickr)

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It almost goes without saying that there’s a reason cyclists aren’t allowed to ride on motorways: being close to vehicles thundering by at 80mph isn’t exactly safe or fun. So you can imagine the surprise of the Surrey police officers this morning called to investigate reports of a cyclist riding on the M25 between junctions 12 and 13.

Just before 9am this morning, @SurreyRoadCops tweeted: “Currently awaiting a cyclist seen on the M25 between 12 & 13. CCTV watching him on the hard shoulder. Should be with me very soon.”

About 50 minutes later came the next instalment: “Cyclist stopped and after a long conversation he has been safely removed with his copy of his ticket for £50.”

It turns out the male rider — no other details have been released — was trying to find a quicker route home for his daily commute. He was using the GGPS mapping on his mobile phone to find his way.

“A male was looking for a shorter route to cycle home from work,” tweeted @SurreyRoadCops. “Phone app sent him on motorway so thought it ok.”

For this chap it seems, to nick a phrase from Douglas Adams, GPS apps are definitive; reality is frequently inaccurate.

‏@HushLegs pointed out that it was probably a genuine error.

“Genuine mistake I'm sure but could have stopped at bottom of slip road! Most children know not to stray onto a motorway,” @SurreyRoadCops said. “Nice chap but unaware of the rules of the road. Believed it ok to ride/walk on hard shoulder, struggled to see why not.”

With the rider out of harm’s way, the cycling Twitterati and the police saw the funny side.

@GavinCritchley tweeted: “Name? 'Wiggins'. First name? 'Bradley'.”

@SurreyRoadCops said: “No Sir Bradley would have been going faster than the cars.”

Roger Smith suggested the rider was “probably the quickest moving vehicle on that stretch.”

“Not today at that time,” @SurreyRoadCops “the opposite carriageway a different story.”

Despite the signs warning cyclists to stay off, riders do from time to time stray on to motorways. In March last year, police stopped a cyclist who was riding along the hard shoulder of the M5, and heading in the opposite direction to traffic. In June, police escorted a female cyclist off the M1 near Milton Keynes.

Perhaps the most celebrated instance of cyclists inadvertently ending up on a motorway came in 2002, when two members of the Kenya squad training for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester used the M61 to train.

Dressed in national kit, they spent three quarters of an hour riding along the hard shoulder before being stopped by police, who treated the episode as “a genuine mistake” on the riders’ part.

34 user comments

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If only the police showed the same enthusiasm for fining motorists in cycle lanes and other driving offences.

posted by Tom Amos [246 posts]
25th February 2014 - 15:37

45 Likes

Oh god we will never hear the end of this from the motoring loons.

Look! See! Stupid cyclist! Each and every one of them is only seconds away from causing carnage on a scale never before witnessed! Two wheeled terrors! It's the bikepocalypse!

seven's picture

posted by seven [119 posts]
25th February 2014 - 15:38

29 Likes

Gizmo_ wrote:
over to the left hand side of the hard shoulder you're further away from the traffic than on a normal A-road...Sounds a pretty good place for a cycle path to me Smile

Before CSH8 was painted on Grosvenor Road and Millbank, and motor traffic had two lanes in each direction, I was regularly overtaken with inches to spare by cars doing around 70-80mph, racing each other to get to the next lights. They might not do much for cyclists in general, but on that particular stretch of road the superhighway offered some benefit.

posted by congokid [161 posts]
25th February 2014 - 15:41

20 Likes

Equally amusing how the girl who was stopped (in the story linked from this one) was let off with a warning, whilst the bloke got a FPN.

I've always found it funny how women want 'equality', except before the law.

'Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons' (Douglas MacArthur)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [267 posts]
25th February 2014 - 15:52

34 Likes

Well no reason why motorists should have a monopoly on mindlessly following a GPS!

One day the satellites will malfunction and a good proportion of the population will dutifully drive/cycle (or even, perhaps, walk) into the sea, never to be seen again.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [746 posts]
25th February 2014 - 15:55

24 Likes

I've sometimes idly thought how useful it'd be to convert short stretches of motorway hard shoulder to (fully protected) cycle lanes. Take Tewkesbury, for example: the M50 crossing of the Severn, and the M5 crossing of the Avon, are the only ones for miles. Providing a cyclepath here would be a great boon; and given that 'Managed Motorways' have proved that hard shoulders are dispensable in this age of more reliable cars, there's no reason not to.

But it'd never happen.

Doctor Fegg's picture

posted by Doctor Fegg [141 posts]
25th February 2014 - 16:03

32 Likes

Gizmo_ wrote:
I think I probably said this previously... but over to the left hand side of the hard shoulder you're further away from the traffic than on a normal A-road, and the gradient will not exceed 5%. Sounds a pretty good place for a cycle path to me Smile

Only that the hard shoulder is the most dangerous part of a motorway. Physics again (though its a moot point with cycling safety). Motorways are safe because in general everything is going in the same direction and at the same (ish) speed. The hard shoulder is the exception because on it things are stationary. Ipso facto closing speed reduces the time to react, increases the net velocity of impact.

ie if you are driving at 50mph say slowing down as you approach stationary traffic and get rear ended by something that doesn't stop in time ie doing 70mph you've been rear ended at a net 20mph.

If you are sat on the hard shoulder and get hit by something doing 70 then it's the full 70 I'm afraid.

I used to go skydiving at Uni. There was an adage used when novices equated height with being more dangerous. It isn't being too high that you have to worry about, it's being too low. Same on a motorway within reason. Being stationary or travelling slowly at the back of slow moving traffic is the most dangerous position and speed to have. Likewise doing 15mph on the hard shoulder is pretty dangerous.

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

posted by oozaveared [745 posts]
25th February 2014 - 17:22

23 Likes

One motorist is reported to have said:

"I was keeping an eye out for him, because I heard it on the radio. You didn't notice him until you were right up close to him. He came out of nowhere. No-one could react to him until you were almost on his backside".

The cyclist was wearing a black rain jacket.

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

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
25th February 2014 - 17:37

28 Likes

Riding on the hard-shoulder of the motorway illegally is probably safer than riding legally on many A-roads and dual carriageways.

posted by MrGear [85 posts]
25th February 2014 - 17:43

30 Likes

cyclingDMlondon wrote:
Equally amusing how the girl who was stopped (in the story linked from this one) was let off with a warning, whilst the bloke got a FPN.

I've always found it funny how women want 'equality', except before the law.

You really can't conclude anything general from two cases in different parts of the country at different times. There's an awesome amount of random variation in how the legal system treats apparently similar offenses. You'd need a large number of cases to draw any such conclusion.

I just don't get why you are so annoyed with women. Whatever it is, my suggestion would be to just let it go.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [746 posts]
25th February 2014 - 17:47

23 Likes

Doctor Fegg wrote:
I've sometimes idly thought how useful it'd be to convert short stretches of motorway hard shoulder to (fully protected) cycle lanes. Take Tewkesbury, for example: the M50 crossing of the Severn, and the M5 crossing of the Avon, are the only ones for miles. Providing a cyclepath here would be a great boon; and given that 'Managed Motorways' have proved that hard shoulders are dispensable in this age of more reliable cars, there's no reason not to.

But it'd never happen.

Le Pont Du Normandie just outside Le Havre is a terrifying six lane motorway bridge - with a segregated cycle lane on each carriageway Smile

andylul's picture

posted by andylul [414 posts]
25th February 2014 - 17:51

20 Likes

Even if it were legal and not a very dangerous place to be (eg nodding off lorry drivers - I've lost count of the number of times I've seen one stray into the hard shoulder), I wouldn't cycle there due to the amount of debris. It'd be a nightmare for punctures.

DaveE128's picture

posted by DaveE128 [85 posts]
25th February 2014 - 17:52

22 Likes

whats 20mph between road users? I cycle on Leeds ring road with cars flying past at 60+, little difference except the hard shoulder.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [239 posts]
25th February 2014 - 17:56

26 Likes

Makes you wonder whether in his life he has ever actually gone onto a motorway in a car, passing all those signs that say 'Motorway' and the one that clearly says what vehicles are prohibited.

Then when he was cycling along it clearly never occurred to him that he was on a hard shoulder (clues: lots more motorway signage....three-four lanes etc). No alarm bells ringing in his head.

Moron.

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [136 posts]
25th February 2014 - 17:56

19 Likes

Being passed by speeding motorists is not fun, you are correct, but to use it as a justification for not doing this? Given the choice between riding on a motorway and riding on the north Devon link road or the A38 between Exeter and Plymouth? I would say you would always be safer on the motorway. Drivers think nothing of driving at 100mph+ on these non-motorways. No hard shoulder!
When a person was 'nicked' for doing 91mph on the single carriageway A361 he thought his behaviour so trivial that he composed a poem! http://www.northdevonjournal.co.uk/Driver-committed-crime-rhyme/story-12...
S
Still got fined £175
The Police normally turn a blind eye to speeding on these roads so he was very unlucky to be nicked.

posted by SideBurn [873 posts]
25th February 2014 - 17:58

28 Likes

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
cyclingDMlondon wrote:
Equally amusing how the girl who was stopped (in the story linked from this one) was let off with a warning, whilst the bloke got a FPN.

I've always found it funny how women want 'equality', except before the law.

You really can't conclude anything general from two cases in different parts of the country at different times. There's an awesome amount of random variation in how the legal system treats apparently similar offenses. You'd need a large number of cases to draw any such conclusion.

What, you mean like the statistics demonstrating all too clearly the gender bias in sentencing? You mean like women who make false accusations of rape get a fine or a suspended sentence, whereas men convicted of rape can be looking at a life sentence? You mean the myths of the 'rape culture' or the 'gender pay gap'?

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm121016/hall...

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
I just don't get why you are so annoyed with women. Whatever it is, my suggestion would be to just let it go.

I'm not 'annoyed' at women. But I have an instinctive abhorrence of injustice, and the society in which we currently live is deeply misandric and gynocentric. That offends my sense of justice, just as it would offend me if we lived in a misogynist society.

But then, this isn't the forum for that so...

'Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons' (Douglas MacArthur)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [267 posts]
25th February 2014 - 18:03

22 Likes

WTF?? I know that it's wrong but the computer thingy told me to do it. Muppet! People need to accept responsibility for their actions.

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [470 posts]
25th February 2014 - 18:17

21 Likes

Doctor Fegg wrote:
I've sometimes idly thought how useful it'd be to convert short stretches of motorway hard shoulder to (fully protected) cycle lanes. Take Tewkesbury, for example: the M50 crossing of the Severn, and the M5 crossing of the Avon, are the only ones for miles. Providing a cyclepath here would be a great boon; and given that 'Managed Motorways' have proved that hard shoulders are dispensable in this age of more reliable cars, there's no reason not to.

But it'd never happen.

Given the existence of foot/cycle paths that were routinely incorporated into the designs of some other crossings (Forth, Severn, etc) I'm surprised the architects /planners didn't give it any thought. Perhaps they did, and it was ruled out on cost. I've heard some remarks made about the total lack of use of ped and cycle facilities on some bridges and how much it would save on maintenance if they simply weren't there, so that's a factor.

posted by Cauld Lubter [122 posts]
25th February 2014 - 18:23

23 Likes

I fairly regularly ride on dual carriageway sections of both the A47 & A11, I can say that you do (sort of) get used to cars & trucks passing fairly close at speed, I would have thought that the hard shoulder would feel positively roomy!!
Still, we shouldn't be on there, so he is a numpty.

Currently going slower than I'd like...

posted by stealth [214 posts]
25th February 2014 - 18:48

23 Likes

cyclingDMlondon wrote:

I'm not 'annoyed' at women. But I have an instinctive abhorrence of injustice, and the society in which we currently live is deeply misandric and gynocentric. That offends my sense of justice, just as it would offend me if we lived in a misogynist society.

Either my irony meter or my nonsense detector need recalibrating. Not sure which yet.

I mean WTF?

posted by jstreetley [61 posts]
25th February 2014 - 19:33

20 Likes

Easily done, especially if you are not sure of your route and following road signs to the next town.

posted by tarquin_foxglove [92 posts]
25th February 2014 - 19:43

18 Likes

My 6 year old knows you cant ride your bike on the 'big fast road'

No excuses, hes a grown man. Idiot

posted by gareth2510 [142 posts]
26th February 2014 - 7:28

20 Likes

jstreetley wrote:
cyclingDMlondon wrote:

I'm not 'annoyed' at women. But I have an instinctive abhorrence of injustice, and the society in which we currently live is deeply misandric and gynocentric. That offends my sense of justice, just as it would offend me if we lived in a misogynist society.

Either my irony meter or my nonsense detector need recalibrating. Not sure which yet.

I mean WTF?

I would say it's your stupidity quotient that's off the scale.

'Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons' (Douglas MacArthur)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [267 posts]
26th February 2014 - 8:05

11 Likes

'He came out of nowhere. '

ah, the old faithful fall-back. Sounds so much better than 'I wasn't paying attention to the road'.

posted by andyp [1072 posts]
26th February 2014 - 8:34

20 Likes

If he had been on the Surrey A3 cycle lane earlier then he probably thought the M25 hard shoulder was cycling heaven. http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/idiots/

posted by andrew abbess [2 posts]
26th February 2014 - 8:54

14 Likes

Doctor Fegg wrote:
I've sometimes idly thought how useful it'd be to convert short stretches of motorway hard shoulder to (fully protected) cycle lanes. Take Tewkesbury, for example: the M50 crossing of the Severn, and the M5 crossing of the Avon, are the only ones for miles. Providing a cyclepath here would be a great boon; and given that 'Managed Motorways' have proved that hard shoulders are dispensable in this age of more reliable cars, there's no reason not to.

But it'd never happen.

Tewkesbury? Go out via the Bredon road (B4080) and you're on one side of the Avon, go over the Mythe bridge and out up the Mythe Road (A38) and you're the other side of the Avon. And at the Mythe hill, you get the opportunity to cross the Severn as well just by taking the left (A438) at the base of the hill.

There is NO need for a cycle path across those two motorway bridges.

posted by Paul_C [257 posts]
26th February 2014 - 9:46

11 Likes

Still not as bad as the granny following the sat-nav who went down the slipway into the water...

http://matmitchellcycling.wordpress.com
The usual new 4th Cat blog with some stuff about Pros too.

mtm_01's picture

posted by mtm_01 [90 posts]
26th February 2014 - 10:17

10 Likes

Not a sensible place to ride but just round the corner is the A3, a dual carriageway with the same speed limit and a cycle lane right down the left hand side. Mostly separated from the A3 but not completely.

posted by shmooster [7 posts]
26th February 2014 - 14:32

12 Likes

I wonder if he got home and set it up as a Strava segment! Wink

GrooveRidar

posted by GrooveRidar [11 posts]
26th February 2014 - 21:50

9 Likes

When i first heard this story, I thought what a twonk.
But..
I have just been plotting a route, I usually do this via OS maps, check out elevations, gradients, quieter roads etc, then once i'm happy I'll stick it onto my gizmo via GarminConnect. I also always write out a basic cheat sheet which is what I go by, my Garmin really is only for back up.
I don't have maps that cover the area I will be going to, so I did a quick GoogleMap, put in my home & destination postcode & clicked on cycle option
The route came up...along the busiest stretch of the A27, one I would avoid at all costs, and then onto the M27!

I was quite shocked, what if I was a new cyclist, or maybe a tourist not knowing what these roads were? What if I was lost, or had been sent on a detour due to roadworks & had gone on via my phone looking for the best/alternative route?

I know we should use common sense when on our bikes, but how many folk these days rely on technology, do excatly as they are told, because 'the machine' told them it was ok.
Ultimately we are responsible for our choices, the routes we take, but the people who run things like GoogleMaps, need to sharpen up their acts too.

I'm only here for the cake

Dizzy's picture

posted by Dizzy [66 posts]
11th March 2014 - 17:00

6 Likes