Met Cycle Task Force numbers boosted - UPDATED

Ten officers join police team to crack down on London’s road rule-breakers

by Martin Thomas   September 29, 2010  

Metropolitan Police Task force with Kulveer Ranger and Mark Gore (picture credit TfL).jpg

The Met Police’s Cycle Task Force has been given a boost with the arrival of ten new members, to help improve the safety of cyclists and to crack down on rule-breaking road users.

As we reported at the time, the squad was launched three months ago with 30 officers focused on tackling bike theft and vandalism in London.

The ten new arrivals are all specialist traffic officers, whose brief is to build on a six-week operation this summer that targeted road users who break the rules of the road.

Intriguingly, one area of focus for the team was cracking down on road users who used their mobile phones on the pilot Barclay’s Cycle Superhighways. It’s not clear whether these road users were just motorists or cyclists too – and, if the latter, whether anyone has thought to warn Boris Johnson, who has famously defended the practice in print.

In his A-Z of Dos & Don’ts of cycling in London, the mayor wrote: “P is for Phone: I see no reason why you should not treat your bike as your office. Provided you hug the kerb, as St Paul’s ship hugged the coast of the Mediterranean, you should be entitled to make telephone calls. It is probably safer to use a hands-free gizmo, but to all those who want to ban the use of mobile phones on bikes, I say this: are we so cruel and discriminatory as to forbid them from using a bicycle? We are not. What is a mobile phone user but a cyclist who has, effectively, only one arm? I rest my case.”

When we called Transport for London they weren't able to tell us whether or not any cyclists had been stopped during the six-week trial for using a mobile while cycling. "We don't have that data," said a spokeswoman. Carefully treading the fine line between disagreeing with Boris and remaining loyal to him, she added, "It is not illegal to use a mobile while on your bike but if you cycle carelessly because it's distracting you then the police might very well stop you, so it's probably something to be avoided."

Since its launch in June, the Cycle Task Force have security marked nearly 5,000 bikes, made nearly 20 arrests for bike theft and reunited some Londoners with their stolen bikes.

Transport for London says this summer’s crack down on rule-breakers resulted in:

  • more than 900 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) of up to £60 issued to drivers and motorcyclists and more than 400 FPNs of up to £60 issued to cyclists
  • around 300 people attended an Exchanging Places safety education course to encourage considerate and safe behaviour from all road users and to promote sharing the road safely
  • 106 cyclists who were given FPNs for less serious offences were given the option to have their ticket cancelled if they attended an Exchanging Places safety education course – and half of those offered the opportunity attended and had their ticket revoked
  • more than 20 arrests made for a variety of offences, including for bike theft and driving while disqualified to do so

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s Transport Advisor, said: “The Cycle Task Force is a fundamental part of the cycling revolution the Mayor has delivered in London and has proven to be hugely effective. This task force, through both education and enforcement, has already helped thousands of London’s cyclists, by catching bike thieves, security marking bicycles and reuniting people with their stolen bikes. The real success of this team is that it is helping both cyclists and those Londoners who do not cycle by ensuring that there is better behaviour on our streets by all road users.

“However there is always more that can be done to make London the best cycling city in the world and these additional officers should reassure everyone who cycles in the Capital that making London safe and secure remains our focus.”

9 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Mmmmm, they look like a sensible choice of bike for the streets of london. Heavy, cheap mtbs with knobbly tires and unecessary suspension forks. I should think they'd have trouble catching someone walking at a brisk pace on one of those! They're obviously not picked/specced by a cyclist (probably more to do with costs). To me a rigid hybrid with discs and 700c wheels would make a far more sensible choice. It'd be lighter, more manuverable, less fatiguing to pedal and plod would be able to cover distances much quicker. You guys should interview the buyer and ask them their reasons for choosing these barges were.

posted by Alb [72 posts]
29th September 2010 - 13:26

like this
Like (4)

Seen a few of those bikes up close - they're not that slow Alb - all depends on the rider really. I agree about the knobbly tyres. Mind you, riding my knobbly tyred, 20 year old Ridgeback into the centre of London today I overtook enough slowpokes on hybrids and fixies to appreciate that rider input counts for most.

The cops need something simple and durable and that's what they've got

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1941 posts]
29th September 2010 - 14:23

like this
Like (4)

Perhaps so. I can't help thinking though that they've been chosen due to the myth that any bike other than an mtb isn't 'rugged' enough for the job.

posted by Alb [72 posts]
29th September 2010 - 14:57

like this
Like (2)

London roads are pretty rubbish - lots of potholes - an MTB will last longer and bear in mind these are working bikes that'll be on the road for a full shift. Given the average speed of most vehicle traffic in London, I don't think overtaking cars will be too difficult for even a semi-fit cop on two wheels.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1941 posts]
29th September 2010 - 17:07

like this
Like (2)

Have seen these fellahs in action. and they take no prisoners! my only hope is that they are not in the culls as public bodies start tightening their belts! As an aside, many motorists do not realise that it is a 'police bike' that is beside them when they have broken the law!!

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [958 posts]
29th September 2010 - 18:12

like this
Like (3)

I think that's an old picture,these guys know their stuff and are very experienced from what I've seen, ride specialized bikes in hi viz colours,they have traffic police written on them, also road tyres.
Seen them in action as well,they are like cheetas on bikes from what I've seen. Car,motorcycle or bike..if you broke the law then look out.
About time we had someone dedicated looking out for the bad eggs on the road and keeping us safe.

posted by Sprint [1 posts]
29th September 2010 - 23:32

like this
Like (3)

Sprint wrote:
I think that's an old picture,these guys know their stuff and are very experienced from what I've seen.

Pic was from TfL at the time the unit was launched three months ago.

Where did you see them, Sprint? The City has its own police force and they've had bike officers for years who are pretty handy on a bike, so if it was round there, it may have been them you saw?

Can't remember where it was, but I did see some bike cops a few years back (Bluewater, maybe?) whose bikes were made by Smith & Wesson. Made me laugh...

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7480 posts]
29th September 2010 - 23:57

like this
Like (2)

The bikes used by the Met's Safer Neighbourhood Teams are mostly made by Smith and Wesson but some teams have been supported by local businesses and have been donated bikes made by other manufactures and the tyres are normally a hybrid type of tyre

posted by spicy316 [1 posts]
1st October 2010 - 11:41

like this
Like (2)

The bikes would be a hair faster with good fat slicks on them.

The attention paid to bicycle enforcement is completely disproportional. Here in the US, cars and trucks kill thousands of pedestrians per year, while cyclists kill only one or two. That's an objective measure of harm, which suggests also that for each ticket handed out to a cyclist, 3000 should be handed out to drivers.

Of course, perhaps I have misunderstood the purpose of the law, and its primary purpose is not to reduce harm to others, but instead to make Those People Behave.

posted by dr2chase [9 posts]
3rd October 2010 - 14:28

like this
Like (4)