Police in towns around the New Forest area stopped 125 cyclists last week in an attempt to promote the use of lights and high-visibility clothing, reports the Bournemouth Echo.
We don’t yet have the figures from Hampshire Constabulary for how many of those stopped were not using lights, but the report suggests officers were handing out safety advice and high-visibility jackets, rucksack covers or snap bands, so we’re assuming not everyone was riding illegally.
Last week we reported on how police in Oxford launched a similar crackdown on lightless cyclists, collaring over 100 riders in a three hour period and slapping them with fines which could be waived if they produced a receipt for a set of lights within seven days.
Here at road.cc we are very much in favour of cyclists doing everything they can to be seen at night, but where we take issue with police forces is in their reinforcement of the notion that what they deem to be insufficiently hi-viz cyclists can still expect to get run over even if they are using lights and otherwise obeying the rules of the road.
There comes a point, we feel, where more emphasis should be placed on educating motorists that it is incumbent upon them to be aware that cyclists use roads at all hours of the day and night and that they, as drivers, should always be aware of the potential they have to cause harm to vulnerable road-users through excessive speed or inattentive driving.
In total there were 17,064 reported cycling casualties in Britain last year, the majority were slightly injured, but as well as the 104 killed another 2606 were seriously injured, representing a six per cent rise on the 2008 figure.
As for the timing of cycling accidents, 61% of casualties occurred during the hours from 7–10am and 4–7pm. This proportion was slightly higher for accidents on Monday to Thursday (66%) and lower at the weekend (44% on both Saturday and Sunday), and is likely to be related to school and work travel.
UPDATE: Sergeant Phil Lamb of Hampshire Constabulary’s Roads Policing Unit told road.cc that police stopped riders who were either riding without lights or who, in their opinion, could have been more visible, before talking to them and offering advice and practical support. No fixed penalty notices were issued, he said.
“Our intention was not to alienate cyclists but to try and help them by offering them free equipment which they could choose to take or not. The majority of people we stopped rode away with a hi-viz item for free so we feel this was a successful operation,” he said.
Sergeant Lamb also pointed out the Hampshire Constabulary regularly carries out operations aimed at cracking down on motoring offences including speeding, drink and drug driving, lack of seatbelt use and use of mobile phones while behind the wheel.