Errant cyclists and drivers in Bristol to be offered training instead of fines

Police seek Cycling City funding for initiative

by Simon_MacMichael   July 29, 2010  

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Police in Bristol will next month pilot a course that aims to improve the relationship between some drivers and cyclists, aimed at motorists whose driving shows inconsideration to bike riders as well as those on two wheels who engage in so-called antisocial cycling including riding on the pavement and jumping traffic lights.

It is hoped that following the pilot, the scheme, said to be the first of its kind in the UK, will become fully operational in September, and Avon & Somerset Police are reportedly hoping to secure Cycling City funding to roll it out in the Bristol area.

Cyclists or motorists caught breaking the law will be given the opportunity of paying a £30 fixed penalty, ask for a court hearing, or attend the training, which is said to be similar to that provided to drivers caught speeding.

Under the pilot scheme, one-to-one lessons that cost £15 will be provided by local charity Life Cycle UK, reports the website This Is Bristol.

Sergeant Stephen Bell, one the team working on the initiative, told the website: "It is something we get complaints about and we want to try and educate people. This is about education, not enforcement or penalising people, and it won't make the police any profit.”

He continued: "Quite often we stop people who aren't cycling on the road because they don't feel safe. We want to give them the opportunity to have one of these lessons.”

Sergeant Bell added that it would be up to individual police officers to decide whether transgressors should be offered the opportunity to participate in the training. "There will be some people who don't get offered the chance to go on the course, it will be at the officer's discretion," he said.

Kate Hartas of Bristol City Council said that no decision had been reached as yet on whether to devote Cycling City funding to the initiative.

She said: "It is early days but there are plans for a trial period of what is known as conditional ticketing, where instead of paying a fine a cyclist would be given the option to attend a speed awareness or safer cycling course, similar to courses that exist at the moment for motorists caught speeding,” she said, adding: “The aim would be to encourage good behaviour."

Martin McDonnell, chairman of the Bristol Cycle Campaign, said his organisation was in favour of the proposals: "We welcome these plans because we do not condone anti-social or law-breaking cycling behaviour,” he stated.

"But we do want to see a balance – it shouldn't just be a crackdown on cyclists, but on all anti-social behaviour on the roads, including drivers,” he continued. “So we are happy that there are plans to work with drivers too."

Allan Williams, policy advisor at the sustainable transport charity Sustrans, which is based in the city, said: "It's a mistake to look at people as either drivers, pedestrians or cyclists. Many of us are all three and as the number of people cycling in Bristol increases, creating space that all road users can share is vital.”

He continued: "But it's important to consider that cyclists are considerably more vulnerable road users than motorists and they face a much greater risk from motorised traffic than they pose."