Home
… but it's still only a fraction of number of motorists fined for same offence...

The number of cyclists fined by the Metropolitan Police for riding through red lights has nearly doubled in each of the two years to March 2010, but pales into insignificance compared to the number of motorists sanctioned for committing a similar offence.

The data, obtained under a Freedom of Information request by London cyclist and road.cc user Tim Lennon, show that in the year to 31 March 2008, some 536 cyclists in the Metropolitan Police area – in other words, all London boroughs other than the City of London – were given a fixed penalty notice for going through a red traffic light.

That rose to 1,085 in 2008/09, a 102 per cent year-on-year increase, and by 73 per cent to 1,872 in the 12 months ended 31 March 2010. That latter figure is equivalent to just 2.3 per cent of the number of motorists fined for running a red light during the same period, however.

Police revealed that in 2007/08 and 2008/09, a similar number of drivers – 89,833 and 89,495 respectively – received a fixed penalty notice for failure to stop at a traffic signal. The year to 31 March 2010 saw an 11 per cent drop, with 79,851 motorists fined.

It should be pointed out that motorists who go through a red light are more likely than cyclists committing the same offence to receive a fine in the first place; the police say that the information relating to fixed penalty notices issued to motorists “includes those issued by officers on the
street and those initiated by speed safety camera activations.” We suspect the latter accounts for most cases, it would be interesting to see a breakdown of the split between those motorists caught by cameras and those caught by police officers.

Since there is no similar way of being able to establish the keeper of a bicycle, those cyclists ticketed will have been issued with the ticket by a police officer who witnessed the offence taking place, either because they happened to be at the location when it took place, or as part of an operation specifically targeting those who jump red lights.

It’s not clear whether those big increases year on year are a reflection of the police taking the offence more seriously when committed by a cyclist, or whether it partly reflects the growing number of cyclists on the capital’s roads; in 2009/10, or indeed both; however, only around five tickets a day were issued, and it’s easy for a single habitual red light jumpers may go through that many signals on one journey alone.

While some cyclists do seek to justify riding through a red light – the two most common excuses being that it was safe to do so or because it gets them ahead of traffic at a junction, it is though breaking the law.

Not only does it help reinforce negative perceptions against cyclists generally, but more importantly it puts the rider doing it in a highly vulnerable situation, sometimes with tragic consequences, and can also put at risk members of the one group of road users more vulnerable than cyclists, pedestrians.

That said, the potential effects of a motor vehicle being driven through a red light are of course far worse and put not only the driver, but all other road users too, at risk of death or serious injury.

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.

29 comments

Avatar
seabass89 [212 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

80'00 people skipped a red light?! How is that even possible?! What are people doing while they are driving??

Avatar
Simon_MacMichael [2456 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

220 people a day, give or take; in a city the size of London, that's tiny. It does make you wonder what the true number is though...

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2624 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

My experience is that those red light jumping cyclists are usually the slow wobblers and I tend to tell 'em off as I voertake them further up the road.

Avatar
kaptnkrunch [57 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Totally unashamed redlight jumper here.

It IS safer because you get away from traffic and can be out in front, visible, rather than trying to accelerate pell mell with the cars in a drag race.
and it's definitely quicker.

I only do it on my commuting route where I know the sequencing of the lights though.

Avatar
thereverent [413 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

While I happy for red light jumping cyclists to be caught and fined, I do wish that the Met Police would do more about other road problems when out of these sting operations. They have a habit of turning a bind eye to cars, buses and taxis entering ASZs on red, driving dangerouly and even red light jumping.

I'm sure the jump in number is down to more police sting operations, than more instances.

Avatar
cat1commuter [1421 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

In my experience motorists jump red lights after the green phase, tagging on to the end of the traffic which has legitimately gone through the junction on green. Cyclists are less likely to do this, since they are more vulnerable. Cyclists tend to go through red lights when the traffic is stopped at red, which, I guess, appears much more blatant to motorists.

There are junctions in Cambridge where I can guarantee that cars will follow traffic through on red every time!

Avatar
nivagh [58 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

rrrrrrrrr - I don't think that only jumping lights where you know the sequence is any justification, nor that it makes it any safer.

All it takes is for one vehicle coming through an amber from another direction and you're toast.

Besides, it's always possible to out accelerate a car at traffic lights.

The lights are there to protect you, other vehicles, and pedestrians crossing the road.
If you injure yourself or somebody else because you believe you're a special case and the lights don't apply to you, then you deserve any fine or other sanction that you may get if you're caught.

It's just not worth the risk to save a few paltry seconds in your life.

Avatar
Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

With regard to motor vehicles encouraching in to ASL areas reserved for cyclists, well Tim did ask the Met to provide figures on the numbers of penalties and warnings issued to motorists for this offence, here's the reply…

"No such offence therefore, no information held - The advanced stop line merely creates separate stop lines for different classes of vehicle.
Therefore, cases where an advanced stop line has been contravened would be recorded as "contravening automatic traffic signal". A manual search could be conducted of all red-light tickets issued, but this would exceed the Freedom of Information cost threshold to supply without charge and there is no guarantee that automatic stop line offences would be flagged."

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2624 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

About 20 years ago a traffic cop pulled me over for jumping a red light on my mountain bike as I pedalled to work. He gave me a telling off and let it go at that and I learned my lesson. He was right, I was wrong. I don't agree with people claiming that jumping red lights is for their own safety, it isn't. It gets us all a bad rep with the anti-cycling numpties who believe potato face Jeremy Clarkson is some kind of oracle and/or who read the Daily Mail and/or believe all that nonsense about Road Tax (which was abolished before WWII) giving them a right to own the road like Mr Toad.

Avatar
londonplayer [620 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Always look over your right shoulder first to check whether there are any cop cars around. And before anyone starts criticising, there are plenty of cops on bikes who jump the lights as well.

Avatar
Paul M [360 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Whatever the rights and wrongs of RLJing, they don't include the effect on the reputation of cyclists. See this argument on a cyclists' blog http://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/giving-cyclists-a-ba...

The point the blogger is making, illustrated with an analogy about a Kurdish criminal, is that while bad behaviour exhibited by majorities (like speeding offences of motorists) is largely tolerated as "normal", similar behaviour by small minorities is roundly condemned, and the irrational prejudice against that minority will always find expression somehow in such accusations.

The parody on anti-cyclist attitudes (substituting pedestrians) referred to in teh ost is hilarious.

Avatar
djm778 [31 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

@Paul m - Hmm...and his arguments are so subjective and full of holes it is hilarious...RLJ'ing is currently illegal, often dangerous and at times suicidal.

I learnt my lesson some years ago after going through on amber and being taken off in a collision by another cyclist who had also gone through on amber.

I have always maintained that in London MY LIFE is put at risk more often by other cyclists rather than drivers (followed closely by Black Cabs and the rest of motorised mindlessness).

Sometimes I witness a tiny minority of cyclists who are so at one with their bikes that they appear to sail effortlessly through lights and between traffic in a way I can only admire, HOWEVER, the majority of cyclists I see jump red lights do so dangerously and generally go on to perform further mind boggling, incredulously stupid moves / offences in an effort to get somewhere (nowhere) quicker whilst wearing their invisible death protection cloak.

All of our actions have consequences and that includes how we are seen and perceived by others.

Avatar
timlennon [210 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I also asked my local fuzz about it, offline. I'm under the impression that while a PCSO can fine cyclists on pavements or RLJing, they can't get motorists for anything, and my local police (Richmond) don't view ASL enforcement as worthy of their time at the moment ...

Avatar
bassjunkieuk [32 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I would also like to see the breakdown between tickets issued by camera's vs. those on foot. Would also like to know which camera's can be used to catch cars as not all traffic lights have the typical RLJing camera's on them. If however they are allowed to use CCTV camera's then I think they may have more options.
Whilst my commutes into and out of London allow me to witness a ton of RLJing (most by the same people as they pass me at lights, I pass them after I get a green, they jump again - repeat) I have also seen a fair few RLJing motorised vehicles, including a BUS this morning!

Avatar
TiNuts [97 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
djm778 wrote:

All of our actions have consequences and that includes how we are seen and perceived by others.

As shown in today's Metro:

http://e-edition.metro.co.uk/2011/11/21/

Yes, I know it's the usual "Road Tax" nonsense but, unfortunately, it is quite clear that all that RLJing does, indeed, adversely colour motorists' perception of cyclists.

Avatar
Decster [246 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

cyclists in Italy ignore the red, many a time i have been sitting at the front, as i obey them when in the car, only to see a swarm of multicolours flashing past on boths sides and avoiding the oncoming traffic and no one bats an eye....  16

Avatar
giff77 [1253 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

@ Tony - a bit concerning that the met don't consider entering the ASZ on red an offence. Maybe the page mentioning RTA 36 was missing or stuck down with jam from their donuts!!

To those who condone or engage in RLJ'g stop being pillocks. Lights are there for everyone's safety. They give you the chance to read the road ahead. Personally I don't filter to the front and take my chances in the drag race with other bikes and cars! I keep to the flow of traffic and enjoy some free air when the vehicle in front starts to move off  4 Also means I am less likely to get forced into the gutter.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2624 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Decster wrote:

cyclists in Italy ignore the red, many a time i have been sitting at the front, as i obey them when in the car, only to see a swarm of multicolours flashing past on boths sides and avoiding the oncoming traffic and no one bats an eye....  16

...and that's one of the reasons why Italy's annual road accident fatality rate is twice as high as that of the UK, despite the population numbers being roughly the same.

Avatar
Simon_MacMichael [2456 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Decster wrote:

cyclists in Italy ignore the red, many a time i have been sitting at the front, as i obey them when in the car...  16

Never stop at a red light in Naples. You'll hold up all the traffic behind...  3

Avatar
WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Sitting at the front of a queue at a cross roads and pulling off as the opposing lights go from green to amber and nothing is coming is fine by me. It's safe and saves you getting cut up by the car behind. The other story in the news section about more women getting killed by waiting for green proves the skill works.

There's this scenario and jumping a green as it turns to red which is dangerous behaviour best left to drivers! The two different acts are constantly ( and often intentionally ) confused.

If as a motorist you don't like cyclists positioning themselves to observe that the cross lights are changing to red and pulling away early then there is only one realistic solution - get a bike.

Avatar
CotterPin [63 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
MercuryOne wrote:

... It's safe and saves you getting cut up by the car behind...

I am intrigued by this comment. Why do you feel the driver waiting behind you will cut you up when the lights change?

I am also intrigued by your choice of terminology. You talk about the "car" cutting you up as if it is an autonomous object operating without any human action.

This is not to pick on you, by the way. It was just that your comments reminded me of similar remarks made by others who justify jumping red lights.

Best wishes

Stephen

Avatar
trevalex [2 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

You can't compare cyclists habits to that of motorists or anyone else for example.. Its like the old saying of "well if he jumped off a cliff would you do it."

Jumping red is silly and yes its mainly the slow bumbling cyclists who never look behind themselves that do this .. I usually pass them in an instant without even breaking a sweat on my bike, and why is it those same slow cyclists that feel the need to push in-front off all other cyclists?

The best way to pull away from lights is to be like a car use as much space as you like when pulling off, most motorists will give you room, like they do with Motorbike riders.

Another benefit red lights give.. is the opportunity to check out any hotties in the area... be that on two wheels or two legs  1

Life moves pretty fast.. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. !

Avatar
giff77 [1253 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I knew that's why I stopped for the red  16

Avatar
Trek8500 [1 post] 4 years ago
0 likes

In our ‘If I can get away with it then who cares’ society, running red lights seems all too common. Sadly, 85-90% of all the cyclists on my commute pay scant regard for red lights, let alone show any real awareness of approaching traffic or fellow cyclists.

Some cyclists even go ‘slowly’ through the lights, as though it makes it ok - as if shows them being cautious and considerate.
Others wait for other cyclists to make the first move, then as though being given approval, follow like sheep.

Some people have commented that it’s only couriers who run the lights, but that is utter rubbish and ill-informed. From wobbly Boris bikers, to no clue novices on sit-up and begs wearing headphones, lycra racers who think they are in the Surrey Hills, too cool for school fixie riders and, middle englanders who should know better – they all bloody do it.

There are no excuses for running red – it’s breaking the law and shows no respect for any other road user, motorist, fellow cyclist or pedestrian.

Is it ok to be holding your mobile while driving?

I am sure any one of the cyclists that run red would be up in arms if a driver on his mobile knocked them off – but hey, one rule for one and another for YOU. I am sure the motorist would swear he was in perfect control and was aware of all around him – utter tosh.

I think it’s time to show some respect to other road users and stop at the lights. Yes, cyclists, motorists and pedestrian alike .

Hitting out at specific groups might be easy, but it’s the individuals - whether motorists, cyclists or pedestrians (don’t even get me on that one – walking across the road on their phones, chatting and not giving a toss about anyone or anything), that are too blame. We all surely owe each other some basic respect. If we all do 'what we want, when we want', then imagine what a fucked up world we would live in.

As it happens I am a lycra/baggy clad fixie rider and would consider myself a pretty serious cyclist and thankfully one with more than half a clue.

What’s the problem with stopping at the lights? If you are unable to position yourself in the road properly then go on a cycling proficiency course. Don’t get me wrong, motorists need to slow down and show respect too, it’s a two way street (well sometimes lol), but there is NO excuse for running the lights.

Avatar
Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Well said Trek8500

Avatar
dave atkinson [6224 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

My main issue with RLJing is that it's only 'safe' because you assume everyone else will abide by the rules. Isn't that a bit selfish? What makes you so special?

Avatar
hmb [4 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I think there is a distinction to be made between Trek's running red lights and pulling away marginally before a red light turns to green.

The latter, when executed with an awareness of the phasing of the lights and with due care and attention, enhances everyone's safety and inconveniences no-one.

It enhances safety because it allows cyclists to position themselves correctly in the road, before motorized traffic gets started. At junctions, such as one local to me, where two lanes of waiting traffic merge into a single lane at the opposite side of the junction, this tactic allows me to clear the junction, and the pinch point, before the motor vehicles catch me up.

Other than it being illegal, I can't see anything wrong with it.

Avatar
Simon E [2743 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:
Decster wrote:

cyclists in Italy ignore the red, many a time i have been sitting at the front, as i obey them when in the car, only to see a swarm of multicolours flashing past on boths sides and avoiding the oncoming traffic and no one bats an eye....  16

...and that's one of the reasons why Italy's annual road accident fatality rate is twice as high as that of the UK, despite the population numbers being roughly the same.

Sadly true. If anyone thinks jumping red lights is cool then they're misinformed. There are lots of dead people who thought "It won't happen to me".

Trek8500 wrote:

I am sure any one of the cyclists that run red would be up in arms if a driver on his mobile knocked them off – but hey, one rule for one and another for YOU.

+1. An excellent post. The rules exist for a very good reason.

Avatar
andrew streit1 [26 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
nivagh wrote:

rrrrrrrrr - I don't think that only jumping lights where you know the sequence is any justification, nor that it makes it any safer.

All it takes is for one vehicle coming through an amber from another direction and you're toast.

Besides, it's always possible to out accelerate a car at traffic lights.

The lights are there to protect you, other vehicles, and pedestrians crossing the road.
If you injure yourself or somebody else because you believe you're a special case and the lights don't apply to you, then you deserve any fine or other sanction that you may get if you're caught.

It's just not worth the risk to save a few paltry seconds in your life.

I typed a response and then read this one and thought there was no point! I agree with all of this. Well argued.