Big jump in number of cyclists fined in Cambridge in 2013

More than 700 fixed penalty notices dished out last year - up 46 per cent on 2012 and near-fivefold rise since 2011

by Simon_MacMichael   June 4, 2014  

Bikes outside Pembroke College Cambridge

More than 700 cyclists were fined in Cambridge last year for offences including going through red lights or riding on the pavement – the highest level for at least five years, up 46 per cent on 2012 and a near-fivefold increase on 2011, when just 131 fixed penalty notices were issued.

The rise in the number of riders fined follows a pledge by Cambridgeshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner Sir Graham Bright, who was elected in September 2012, to crack down on cyclists who flout the law.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Constabulary told Cambridge News: “Anti-social cycling and riding without lights has been raised as an issue by residents over recent months. We have responded to those concerns by taking positive action against those responsible by issuing fines and giving advice to cyclists.

“Part of the action has been the Lights Instead of Tickets campaign where cyclists could avoid paying a fine if they purchased a set of lights.

“We will continue to enforce the law to ensure the safety of cyclists along with pedestrians and other roads users.”

Cambridge News adds that 431 fines were given to cyclists in 2009, followed by 367 in 2010. After dipping further to 131 in 2011, the number climbed to 508 during 2012, then 740 last year.

In April this year, police revealed that a 20-week operation against motorists and cyclists breaking the law in Cambridge had resulted in 200 fixed penalty notices being issued – 50 of those to cyclists for riding the wrong way up Sydney Street, which is one-way.

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Low hanging fruit. Wonder how many car drivers prosecuted for red light running or parking on the pavement in the same period.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1332 posts]
4th June 2014 - 14:12

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I always despair at these, it's not very joined up. Handing out fines discourages cycling. Lowering cycling numbers = more dangerous roads = probably more deaths & injuries caused than those which are caused by cycling the wrong way up a street, or jumping lights. Especially when you add in the health benefits of cycling, which are much harder to quantify.

In the end, I think we want a world where everyone who has a journey under 8 miles will, within reason, jump on a bike for it. Policemen standing around trying to catch people for the relatively harmless (& probably solvable by better cycle provision) problems of going the wrong way up a street isn't helping this vision.

posted by 7thGalaxy [42 posts]
4th June 2014 - 15:02

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Cambridgeshire PCC Graham Bright, of Brass Eye Cake and 'Dogs affected by video nasties' fame, loves cracking down on anti-social cycling. Increase in fines likely represents increased crackdowns, not change in behaviour.

Also this story was written up by known Cambridge News hack, and cycling click-bait Extraordinaire, who probably put the FOI in himself. Notice frequent use of 'danger' cyclists, despite the fact that no-one quoted in the article uses the word danger.

posted by HKCambridge [108 posts]
4th June 2014 - 15:06

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There are a large number of fairly irresponsible people on bicycles in Cambridge (I resist using the term cyclist for such people as they are not in my view) - the number of people fined for riding without lights would have been significantly higher had they not operated the lights for tickets scheme. A lot of the centre of Cambridge seems to be viewed by pedestrians as a pedestrianised area (although it isn't) and cycling through it can be particularly hazardous at the best of times. The police do seem fair in their approach - I was stopped riding the wrong way up Sidney Street at walking pace and gently asked not to.

posted by allezrider [53 posts]
4th June 2014 - 16:15

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If so many people are going the wrong way up Sidney street, there must be a reason - bad planning. We need to make the cycling experience as convenient as possible - at the expense of car drivers. Often, in my experience, I nip down a quiet one way street to avoid having to go around the block with all of the traffic. It's safer. In many places, contraflow bike paths are now indicated, at the least, and sometimes segregated ones too.

One way streets are only necessary due to car traffic! They are not helpful, or necessarily safer for bikes.

posted by 7thGalaxy [42 posts]
4th June 2014 - 16:20

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I'm moving to Cambridge in September for uni, and i enjoy cycling but i might be giving it a miss, i definitely won't be able to afford to pay a stupid fine! I think these fines are petty, why not just give verbal or written warnings about things like lights?
How would they measure when lights should be used, get out the colour chart for the sky?

Pffft Gears, who needs them

JackBuxton's picture

posted by JackBuxton [38 posts]
4th June 2014 - 16:27

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cat1commuter wrote:
Low hanging fruit. Wonder how many car drivers prosecuted for red light running or parking on the pavement in the same period.

Ah! The old chestnut! "We can do it because they can do it!"... I'm sure the police also fine people in cars when they're not busy fining cyclists.

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

jmaccelari's picture

posted by jmaccelari [143 posts]
4th June 2014 - 16:50

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JackBuxton wrote:
I'm moving to Cambridge in September for uni, and i enjoy cycling but i might be giving it a miss, i definitely won't be able to afford to pay a stupid fine! I think these fines are petty, why not just give verbal or written warnings about things like lights?
How would they measure when lights should be used, get out the colour chart for the sky?

If you're a student in Cambridge you won't have anywhere to keep a car unless you have really good reason (like a serious disability), and since you are on this site you already know that cycling is better than walking, so I reckon you will be joining the thousands of other cyclists in Cambridge Smile

Cambridge isn't a police state and on the whole you'd have to do something particularly stupid to even get noticed, much less get a fine: a few hundred fines a year out of tens of thousands of journeys a day is not something to worry about unless you know you have a reckless disregard for your fellow citizens and laws in general.

Finally when I've seen the police check for lights it is dark - no colour chart required...

posted by 3cylinder [61 posts]
4th June 2014 - 17:08

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JackBuxton wrote:
I'm moving to Cambridge in September for uni, and i enjoy cycling but i might be giving it a miss, i definitely won't be able to afford to pay a stupid fine! I think these fines are petty, why not just give verbal or written warnings about things like lights?
How would they measure when lights should be used, get out the colour chart for the sky?

To be honest, depending on your college and subject, you might not need a bike. Many colleges and depts are within a mile, and walking is sociable and you don't need to find parking (there isn't enough).

It is petty, though. The police always seem to focus on Market Square, which has very high levels of lighting at all times. There are unlit streets further from the town centre where I'd have a bit more sympathy with the difficulty of seeing cyclists, but the police would rather fine students in the most brightly lit area of the city, because they know they'll catch more that way. Maybe it's the only way they can see the 'invisible' ones?

posted by HKCambridge [108 posts]
4th June 2014 - 17:11

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Much as I would rather the police spent resources on things which might save lives, which I'm absolutely convinced these crackdowns don't, if you do get fined you have only yourself to blame. There's a sure-fire way to avoid it, and that is to obey the law.

posted by HKCambridge [108 posts]
4th June 2014 - 17:15

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Absolutely they do. I see cars pulled over on Cambridge streets more often than bikes, though they seem to do a fair bit of both.

Claud Butler Regent 2013

posted by EarsoftheWolf [17 posts]
4th June 2014 - 17:53

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It's certainly not evenly implemented between cars & bikes. I have put in a number of requests for he police to take seriously the lack of road-legal lighting on cars driving out of Cambridge in the evening. I usually see 6-7 cars with defective lights on my 5 mi commute, with a couple of near-misses where cars overtaking me have misjudged the gap due to cars driving with a single headlight. No response from Graham Bright (or any of his officers) on that one.

posted by gavben [24 posts]
4th June 2014 - 18:31

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jmaccelari wrote:
I'm sure the police also fine people in cars when they're not busy fining cyclists.
How many ASL and 20mph zone violation penalties in Cambridge in last 12 months you think?

posted by vbvb [220 posts]
4th June 2014 - 20:35

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JackBuxton wrote:
I'm moving to Cambridge in September for uni, and i enjoy cycling but i might be giving it a miss, i definitely won't be able to afford to pay a stupid fine! I think these fines are petty, why not just give verbal or written warnings about things like lights?
How would they measure when lights should be used, get out the colour chart for the sky?

It says in the article that there is a 'lights for tickets' campaign, whereby if you can produce lights within a certain period you don't pay a fine. Maybe you need to improve your reading comprehension skills if you're going to uni!!
Also there is an easy way to know if you should be using lights. It's called lighting-up time, otherwise known as sunset, which is easily found on any weather site; even my GPS has it.

posted by Alan Tullett [1431 posts]
4th June 2014 - 21:26

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7thGalaxy wrote:
If so many people are going the wrong way up Sidney street, there must be a reason - bad planning. We need to make the cycling experience as convenient as possible - at the expense of car drivers. Often, in my experience, I nip down a quiet one way street to avoid having to go around the block with all of the traffic. It's safer. In many places, contraflow bike paths are now indicated, at the least, and sometimes segregated ones too.

One way streets are only necessary due to car traffic! They are not helpful, or necessarily safer for bikes.

No, the reason for it is that's it is a short-cut for a few shops. That area of Cambridge is so narrow that it has to be one-way for the vans and lorries that serve the shops there which is why it's only pedestrianised from 10-4. During that time it doesn't really matter a lot, although I do find it annoying as a cyclist to have two-way cycling and pedestrians to deal with on a very narrow road, but outside that time, especially at night, it is potentially dangerous to go up there the wrong way. You'll certainly need to get off your bike sharpish if a lorry is coming down as there would be no space to get by. Not many ordinary cars would go down there. It is very hard to get in and out of that area by car, only authorised traffic is allowed. Where possible there are contraflow lanes in Cambridge, but that road is too narrow for that.

On the whole one-way streets probably are safer for bikes as you're not going to be squeezed by oncoming traffic pushing traffic on your side of the road closer to you. It is very easy to go primary on narrow one-way streets with generally slow-moving traffic and that is normally the safest position to be.

The really dangerous roads are the narrow single-carriageway roads with busy fast-moving traffic on both sides i.e. A roads.

posted by Alan Tullett [1431 posts]
4th June 2014 - 21:55

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Why doesn't Commissioner NotsoBright get plod to target motons parking in the ASL at the traffic light junction on Milton Road with Union lane? I reckon they could make a serious amount of cash here. Also vehicles RLJing at the ped/cycle crossing on Elizabeth way and much further away at the start of the Guided Busway at the lights that are on the ring road going around St Ives. So many vehicles speed through these when on red. You cross the road on the green man symbol not knowing if you are going to make it to the other side.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [214 posts]
4th June 2014 - 23:20

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vbvb wrote:
jmaccelari wrote:
I'm sure the police also fine people in cars when they're not busy fining cyclists.
How many ASL and 20mph zone violation penalties in Cambridge in last 12 months you think?

There are 4 ASLs on my commute along Hills Road, I reckon at least two of them will have a car at least partially in them every time I cycle it, and that's not to mention the drivers who wait behind the line but rev their engine then tear past you once the lights are green.
Interestingly Cambridge Constabulary have no method of reporting dangerous or anti-social driving. But I guess that's not surprising given Graham Bright's vindictive vendetta against cyclists and the many ways they wrong drivers. Angry

posted by Cantab [57 posts]
5th June 2014 - 8:06

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If this sort of enforcement is notionally down to residents' complaints, a concerted campaign of complaints from cyclists about ASL violations, mobile phone use, speeding etc. will bring about a city wide crackdown right?!

Not holding my breath, but perhaps it's worth a try? Day Dreaming

posted by Cantab [57 posts]
5th June 2014 - 8:09

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Cantab wrote:
If this sort of enforcement is notionally down to residents' complaints, a concerted campaign of complaints from cyclists about ASL violations, mobile phone use, speeding etc. will bring about a city wide crackdown right?!

Not holding my breath, but perhaps it's worth a try? Day Dreaming

20mph enforcement was set at North Area Committee as a priority in response to public complaint. See how much the police care: http://cambridge.shapeyourplace.org/20mph-north-cambridge-enforcement/#....

posted by HKCambridge [108 posts]
5th June 2014 - 10:13

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Alan Tullett wrote:
No, the reason for it is that's it is a short-cut for a few shops. That area of Cambridge is so narrow that it has to be one-way for the vans and lorries that serve the shops there which is why it's only pedestrianised from 10-4. During that time it doesn't really matter a lot, although I do find it annoying as a cyclist to have two-way cycling and pedestrians to deal with on a very narrow road, but outside that time, especially at night, it is potentially dangerous to go up there the wrong way. You'll certainly need to get off your bike sharpish if a lorry is coming down as there would be no space to get by. Not many ordinary cars would go down there. It is very hard to get in and out of that area by car, only authorised traffic is allowed. Where possible there are contraflow lanes in Cambridge, but that road is too narrow for that.

There are already contraflows in Cambridge where there's no room to pass: St Andrew's St outside Christ's is a pinch-point used by buses and cyclists can't pass when one is there, despite it being legal.

There are also plenty of two-way streets where two cars can't pass each other (though mainly because parking makes it narrow, not because of the street) such as Adams Rd and Cavendish Rd.

People cope. Someone gives way, you wait, you pass. Since lots of people are already doing this illegally, there's plenty of evidence that it's fine.

You say 'it's only a short-cut for shops' but students live on those streets, and have up to a half mile detour, every day, if their lectures are in the wrong direction from the one-way system. The town centre is also a through-route for many cyclists trying to avoid the inner ring-road.

posted by HKCambridge [108 posts]
5th June 2014 - 10:23

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JackBuxton wrote:
I'm moving to Cambridge in September for uni, and i enjoy cycling but i might be giving it a miss, i definitely won't be able to afford to pay a stupid fine!

They're not stopping or fining people just for riding bikes. So if you don't want to get stopped/fined, you could always try, you know, not doing the things they're stopping people for...?

posted by Chuck [357 posts]
5th June 2014 - 12:35

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I hate to say this but.. another example of the site heading towards the moronic reporting/regurgitation of headlines ala Daily fail or Yaboo style.

Come on folks, there's been a targeted crackdown on cyclist, the numbers are bound to be up. When AIDS was discovered there was an explosion in numbers of people diagnosed. The increase in my usage of Ultremo tyres since I bought my first Ultremo tyre is 100%.

Please can you put forward a more balance report in future, I'd like to know if there is has been an increase in cyclist numbers as well. Percentages are meaningless. If one person was stopped last year and 10 people were stopped this year it would be an increase of 1000%. However if the population increased from 1 to 1000 then crimes per population would drop from 1:1 (100%) to 10:1000 or 1:100 or 1%.

But hey if crime has risen by 1000% how can it have fallen to 1%. Don't matter, we is spin and press hacks, the 1000% increase sounds scary.......

There again I was once read on the interent that you should not believe everything you read on the internet.

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [279 posts]
5th June 2014 - 12:41

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So, (some) fellow commenters, is it OK for you to pick and choose which laws get enforced any more than you're accusing the police of doing?

posted by mbrads72 [115 posts]
5th June 2014 - 13:25

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mbrads72 wrote:
So, (some) fellow commenters, is it OK for you to pick and choose which laws get enforced any more than you're accusing the police of doing?

Starting from the premise that the police have limited resources and have to set priorities because they can't enforce everything completely, it is fair to say it's more important to enforce some laws than others.

And a good way of deciding which laws to enforce is to look at potential and actual harm caused. In which case, policing cyclists not using lights in well-lit, low traffic city centres is pretty near the bottom of the pile.

My argument is that cyclists pose a low risk to others. We have no shortage of stats to back this up. I also have huge reservations as to the effectiveness of the campaign to improve road safety, even for the cyclists themselves. It's too early to see the STATS19, but I would be amazed if there is significant decrease in either cyclist or pedestrian safety attributable to this.

The police's argument is that some people have complained (not even necessarily people who live in Cambridge - the PCC's area of authority is much bigger), so they're going to do it.

So, yes, I am going to call bullshit on that. They can't enforce everything, but I expect them to justify what they do enforce, and they haven't.

posted by HKCambridge [108 posts]
5th June 2014 - 14:31

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HKCambridge wrote:
mbrads72 wrote:
So, (some) fellow commenters, is it OK for you to pick and choose which laws get enforce
And a good way of deciding which laws to enforce is to look at potential and actual harm caused. In which case, policing cyclists not using lights in well-lit, low traffic city centres is pretty near the bottom of the pile.

My argument is that cyclists pose a low risk to others. We have no shortage of stats to back this up. I also have huge reservations as to the effectiveness of the campaign to improve road safety, even for the cyclists themselves. It's too early to see the STATS19, but I would be amazed if there is significant decrease in either cyclist or pedestrian safety attributable to this.

The problem with this is that those same cyclists don't start and end their trip in the well lit centre, they end up on Cherry Hinton road (etc) where there are almost no street lights, they are still in complete stealth mode and expect everyone else (pedestrians, cars and other cyclists) to avoid them. I agree that their risk to others is low, but to themselves is considerable, all for the sake of 15 quids worth of LEDs and some respect for others. Remember the vast majority of other road users are not out to 'get' cyclists and don't want to hurt anyone - let them see and they will avoid.

posted by 3cylinder [61 posts]
6th June 2014 - 0:08

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3cylinder wrote:
The problem with this is that those same cyclists don't start and end their trip in the well lit centre, they end up on Cherry Hinton road (etc) where there are almost no street lights, they are still in complete stealth mode and expect everyone else (pedestrians, cars and other cyclists) to avoid them. I agree that their risk to others is low, but to themselves is considerable, all for the sake of 15 quids worth of LEDs and some respect for others. Remember the vast majority of other road users are not out to 'get' cyclists and don't want to hurt anyone - let them see and they will avoid.

It's also pretty low to themselves. We have the STATS19 data for collisions. Cyclists actually have fewer collisions in the dark than other road users, compared with daylight. http://cottenhamcyclist.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/road-safety-statistics-fo...

"The DfT Contributory Factors for Cambridge City 2009-2001, show:
•Not displaying lights at night or in poor visibility. 8 of 695 accidents (all vehicle types).
•Cyclist wearing dark clothing at night. 14 of 695. [this is not an offence]"

I've been lit up like a Christmas tree, covered in retro-reflectives, and drivers have still failed to see me. They weren't looking. Lack of lights makes for a very convenient excuse if you weren't looking. I always have lights myself, but as much as anything to remove the excuse from careless drivers. It's a footnote to road safety.

posted by HKCambridge [108 posts]
6th June 2014 - 10:53

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HKCambridge wrote:
3cylinder wrote:
The problem with this is that those same cyclists don't start and end their trip in the well lit centre, they end up on Cherry Hinton road (etc) where there are almost no street lights, they are still in complete stealth mode and expect everyone else (pedestrians, cars and other cyclists) to avoid them. I agree that their risk to others is low, but to themselves is considerable, all for the sake of 15 quids worth of LEDs and some respect for others. Remember the vast majority of other road users are not out to 'get' cyclists and don't want to hurt anyone - let them see and they will avoid.

It's also pretty low to themselves. We have the STATS19 data for collisions. Cyclists actually have fewer collisions in the dark than other road users, compared with daylight. http://cottenhamcyclist.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/road-safety-statistics-fo...

"The DfT Contributory Factors for Cambridge City 2009-2001, show:
•Not displaying lights at night or in poor visibility. 8 of 695 accidents (all vehicle types).
•Cyclist wearing dark clothing at night. 14 of 695. [this is not an offence]"

I've been lit up like a Christmas tree, covered in retro-reflectives, and drivers have still failed to see me. They weren't looking. Lack of lights makes for a very convenient excuse if you weren't looking. I always have lights myself, but as much as anything to remove the excuse from careless drivers. It's a footnote to road safety.

To judge whether it is safer in the dark you’d need to know the relative number (and ideally length) of journeys to see if the 173 vs 521 is not just a result of fewer people and shorter trips. I actually think a bike with decent lights is more visible at night than a cyclist in the day against a typical urban background.
I totally agree with you that being lit up like a Christmas tree does not prevent being SMIDSY-ed, but equally someone who is more visible is less likely to be overlooked.

In an ideal world all drivers would be competent, attentive and drive with caution, and would pick out an unlit cyclist or pedestrian. The real world includes people who shouldn't have a license in the first place, driving cars with bad brakes and smeary windscreens, pissed off from an argument with their boss, with screaming kids in the back seat, and running late.

There’s no question that it is the latter that is the real problem, but fixing bad driving is going to be incredibly difficult and won’t be on any government’s manifesto. In the meantime, making some minimal effort to help that distracted, incompetent driver avoid you makes sense to me.

posted by 3cylinder [61 posts]
6th June 2014 - 17:13

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