National cyclists' organisation weighs in following police operation in New Forest...

CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation, has said that police forces should focus on combating poor driving instead of stopping law-abiding cyclists to hand out high-visibility gear to them.

As reported on road.cc this week, police in Hampshire have been giving reflective tabards and other hi-viz equipment to cyclists in the New Forest, but CTC campaigns director Roger Geffen insists that this is not the correct way to go about increasing their safety, according to a report in the Bournemouth Echo.

“Whilst we would obviously not recommend wearing dark colours at night on an unlit road, the limited evidence on the effect of fluorescent clothing is that it makes at best only a marginal difference to cyclists’ safety,” Mr Geffen explained.

“In any case, cycling is not a particularly ‘dangerous’ activity; you are less likely to be killed in a mile of cycling than a mile of walking.

“Handing out hi-viz vests to cyclists may earn the police a few headlines, but will do little if anything to improve their safety, and is if anything more likely to put people off cycling altogether, by exaggerating the risks involved.

“That in turn could actually worsen safety for the remaining cyclists, as cycling gets less safe the fewer cyclists there are.”

He concluded: “The police should spend their time tackling the root causes of the hazards cyclists face, notably bad driving.”

However, Julian Hewitt of the Hampshire Police’s Safer Roads Partnership, disagreed, claiming that there had been a rise in accidents involving cyclists in Hampshire and that most incidents took place at roundabouts and junctions.

“Many of these collisions will be motorists emerging or crossing into the path of cyclists,” he stated.

“It would therefore seem to be a sensible precaution for cyclists to wear high visibility clothing that makes them more visible to motorists.

“Wearing safe clothing is no more likely to put people off cycling than fitting seat belts and air bags to cars would put people off driving.

“Most cyclists will feel more confident if they know that motorists are more aware of their presence and that is why they have been so keen to take up our offer of free reflective clothing,” Mr Hewitt added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.