Lightless night riders targeted

Police in York have been out in force to catch cyclists riding at night without lights, issuing almost 100 fixed penalty notices.

The campaign, called Operation Image, began last November. Police stopped anyone seen riding a bike after dark without lights and the cyclists were issued with either a £30 fixed penalty ticket or a suspended fixed penalty notice that gave them a fortnight to ensure working lights were fitted to their cycle.

According to the Press, during the two month operation, a total of 68 14-day fixed penalty notices were issued; eight verbal warnings were given and 19 people were handed a £30 fixed penalty ticket.

Graham Titchener, programme manager for Cycling City York, said the crackdown “significantly reduced” the number of cyclists putting their lives and the lives of others at risk on the road.

“Since the start of Operation Image, there have been a number of neighbourhood policing teams out at key locations across York during the morning and evening rush hours working hard in all weathers to enforce safer cycling,” he said.

“It’s clear that the operation has had an impact as colleagues within the partner organisations that make up Cycling City York have reported seeing far fewer cyclists out after dark without lights.”

Fiona Willey, temporary sergeant and community safety officer for the Safer York Partnership, said: “I think Operation Image has proved really successful; each week since its launch there has been a marked reduction in the number of cyclists being seen without lights.

“Sadly, we know that there are a small minority of cyclists who continue to flout the law and we would encourage them to take a more responsible approach for their own safety and that of other road users and pedestrians.

“The message is loud and clear – if you don’t light up at night you face enforcement action.”

York's Operation Image follows similar crackdowns on 'anti-social cyclists' in other towns and cities across the country. In October we reported on a similar operation in Oxford in which 84 fixed penalty notices were handed out in what has become an annual event,  Police in Cambridge, Norwich, Weston-Super-Mare have all in recent months targeted cyclists in similar operations. Police in Southend took a different approach to the problem offering cycle training to those they stopped with fixed penalties reserved for repeat offenders.

Despite temporary sergeant Wiley's assertion that only a minority of cyclists continue to flout the law - the fact that in July we reported on a similar crackdown against cyclists in York suggests otherwise. Or maybe York's cyclists might wonder whether the police have got better things to do with their valuable time. 

Lights front and rear are a legal requirement when riding a bicycle at night - a recent report for the Department for Transport found that 1 in 4 cycling casualties involving motor vehicles and cyclists were caused by motorists hitting the cyclist from behind they can save your life in other ways too as the York cyclist who got stuck in a  snow drift last week found out.

It is also worth noting when considering if such crackdowns on cyclists are a proper use of police time that the DfT report also found that in 93 per cent of casualty incidents involving cyclists the cyclists were not to blame.