The use of speed guns on cyclists using the promenade at Bournemouth has been dismissed as ‘ridiculous and excessive’ by Britain’s largest cycling lobby group.
The CTC says that any speed-related campaign should always focus on motorists, and to target cyclists is to diverting attention from the real issues.
Over the weekend, scores of cyclists were stopped by prom ‘rangers’ after police officers used a hand-held speed camera to monitor them. Although fines could not be handed out – because cyclists are unable to accurately monitor their speed – the errant riders were given a talking to.
There is a speed limit for cyclists of 10 mph along the prom, and 37 people were stopped in the first hour of the operation.
Debra Rolfe, the CTC’s campaigns co-ordinator, told road.cc: “Frankly, it’s ridiculous and excessive. The danger posed to the public by cyclists is extremely low, and it bears no comparison to the equivalent danger posed by motorists. Using the speed-guns to ticket speeding motorists would be a far more effective way of enforcing road safety.
“If you’re cycling along a prom, you should be aware that you might be sharing it with other people at busy times and you should moderate your speed.”
Claire Armstrong, from the campaign group Safe Speed said: "This is completely ludicrous and a waste of taxpayers' money.
"It's just nonsense and I think cyclists will show the disrespect that it deserves."
In Bournemouth there were mixed reactions to the scheme among those who had been stopped.
Alison Ellis, of Mudeford, who was recorded cycling at 16mph said: “I think this initiative is a good idea because there are a lot of people who really speed along.
“I was going fast because I could and it was clear but if there was a child around I would give them a very wide berth.”
Barry Presland, who cycles to his job at the Royal Mail, was one of the few cyclists that came in under the speed limit at 9 mph.
He said: “There have been incidents over the years and some people do go pretty fast. Obviously this is a place where you get a lot of children and young people so I think it’s fair enough that cyclists slow down.”
But not everyone was so pleased to see the council officers.
Chef Nick Lomax, 26, who was cycling at 16mph, said: “I cycle to work every single day and I think this is absolutely ridiculous, a complete waste of time and money.
“I could drive to work but I’m an environmentalist and I don’t want to do that. On a quiet day like today when the weather’s bad I can go as fast as I want. If it was busier then obviously I would slow down.”
Cyclists are currently banned from the prom between 10am and 6pm in July and August, when they can be fined. The 10mph speed limit is permanent.
A council spokeswoman said the operation was in 'specific response' to an incident last summer when a two-year-old girl was hit by a bike.
She said: "We caught 37 people in the first hour on Saturday but not as many on the Sunday because the weather wasn't as good. Our aim is to catch less, not more, cyclists because then we'll know the message is getting through.
"We find the use of the speed-gun helpful because most cyclists are unaware of what 10 mph or 15 mph feels like and this way we can show them exactly how fast they were going."
A spokesman for Dorset Police said: "Bournemouth seafront is a very busy area in the summer months and it is essential that members of the public are able to enjoy themselves in safety."
The operation continues this week.