The City of Westminster is reportedly planning to become the first local authority to seek powers for council staff to issue fixed penalty notices to cyclists breaking the law.
According to a report in The Times, the borough plans to approach the Metropolitan Police to secure delegated authority under existing legislation to allow its city inspectors, who normally deal with issues such as licensing, waste and noise, to issue fines to cyclists caught committing offences such as riding through red lights or cycling on the pavement.
The plan, which still needs to be approved by the full council, has been drawn up by Westminster’s Scrutiny Committee, whose chairman, Angela Harvey, told The Times that law-breaking cyclists were the principal factor behind complaints from the borough’s residents.
“So many people are frustrated with it,” she said. “We’re always getting little old ladies who are knocked down and abused by a cyclist, who leaves them on the ground as they ride away.”
Ms Harvey added: “The police are the only people who have the ability to enforce this issue, and they just aren’t taking this seriously enough. There are more of our officers on the street than there are police at any given time, so it is a sensible solution.”
However, Tom Bogdanowicz, campaigns director of the London Cycling Campaign, believes that giving council staff powers to stop cyclists and issue fines would be a mistake, saying “enforcement of moving traffic offences needs to be carried out by trained police or police community support officers. They are best qualified to enforce the regulations on pavement cycling and most other offences as they have the training and authority to do their work.”
He added: “It is also vital that local authorities address road danger to cycle users by improving the very conditions that force some cyclists to seek the refuge of pavements. Where road design improvements have been made, offending falls significantly.”
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.