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Camden Cyclists secure admission from Met inspector that Fixed Penalty Notices were issued in error

The Metropolitan Police is reportedly refunding fines paid by cyclists after they were given fixed penalty notices (FPNs) in error as part of an operation against people riding their bikes, quite legally, through an area of Bloomsbury last month. Those who have been issued FPNs but not yet paid fines have been told they may disregard them.

The police operation was revealed in a forum post on the CTC website, started by a cyclist who was walking his bike past the location in question, outside the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), which falls within the London Borough of Camden.

The witness said that eight police officers were involved, and added that the only signage in the area directed at bike riders was a sign, only visible from one direction, saying ‘Cyclists Dismount’ – although such signs are advisory, rather than compulsory.

As one poster on the CTC forum thread pointed out, the location where the FPNs were handed out was formerly a road, before being paved over and pedestrianised; while that doesn’t change the status of the FPNs, which remain invalid, it does perhaps help explain why the police decided to carry out the operation at that specific site.

Yesterday, Jean Dollimore of Camden Cyclists, the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) affiliated group in the borough, posted to the forum thread to confirm that Inspector Dave Dixon of the Metropolitan Police had been in touch to clarify the status of the FPNs.

“He says that the tickets were issued by the local SNT team in response to complaints from locals about cycling behaviour on that path,” she explained, “and that the Dismount signs are only advisory so the tickets should not have been issued.”

“He asked me to pass on his apologies and to say that if you have a ticket, you should contact him at stt.camden [at] met.police.uk

“If you have already paid the fine, he will arrange for it to be repaid.”

Ms Dollimore told road.cc: ""Full marks to Inspector Dixon for his support and for personally seeing to the repayment of fines. This makes up for the error by the Safer Neighbourhood Team who did act in response to complaints although they shouldn't have targetted cyclists in this way "

The issue of cyclists riding on the pavement (in legal parlance, ‘footway’) or in pedestrianised areas is an emotive one that police say is often highlighted by local residents, although instances of pedestrians being killed or seriously injured in a collision with a cyclist are rare.

With the coalition government pressing ahead with plans to introduce elected police commissioners despite concerns raised by the Association of Chief Police Officers, it could be that pressure from local electors will lead to police forces stepping up campaigns against anti-social cycling.

If that does turn out to be the case, it is to be hoped that police will target those who are actually breaking the law – something that by Inspector Dixon’s own admission was not the case in last month’s operation in Bloomsbury.

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.

13 comments

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JohnS [198 posts] 4 years ago
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Yet another example of the cycling public being more aware of the law than the police.

If I was a policeman, I'd be very embarassed.

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Sam Saunders [27 posts] 4 years ago
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"although instances of pedestrians being killed or seriously injured in a collision with a cyclist are rare."

I don't think anyone thinks that fear of serious injury or death is the reason why cyclists and pedestrains should be separated. There is a fundamental conflict between walkers and cyclists, especially where the walker is very young, frail, partially sighted or hearing impaired. Personally I dislile cycling through pedestrian areas - and I dislike walking in cycling-enabled areas even more.

It's good to see the ticket problem solved so quickly - well done to the CTC for that.

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therevokid [953 posts] 4 years ago
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So it's obviously cheaper and easier to ticket anti-
social tearaways on bicycles than try to do something
about anti-social drivers !!!!

Still ... well done the CTC and kudos to the "old bill"
for fessing up  1

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Simon_MacMichael [2457 posts] 4 years ago
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Sam Saunders wrote:

I don't think anyone thinks that fear of serious injury or death is the reason why cyclists and pedestrains should be separated.

A glance at the comments to pretty much any local newspaper article regarding cycling suggests otherwise, and there's plenty of rent-a-quote local councillors etc who do try to make much of the perceived danger.

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harman_mogul [228 posts] 4 years ago
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What is "the local SNT team"? I think we should be told!

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eviltoystealer [65 posts] 4 years ago
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SNT means Safer Neighbourhood Team, basically the Police and others who are responsible for keeping an area, such as a town centre or suburb, safe.

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Sam Saunders [27 posts] 4 years ago
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What you say is true. Contributors to opinion forums often say odd things and "perceived danger" is a bit overdone.

But my point is that whether accidents happen or not, the effort needed to avert them and the anxiety created by unexpected encouters and near-misses are unwelcome. It also needs saying that non-injury bumps and near misses are never counted, but are so unpleasant when a bicycle is involved that some kinds of people stay away from "shared spaces" - one of the reasons why reported collision levels are so low.

I've writtten a bit more about the not very profound point I'm making at http://samsaundersbristol.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/shared-space/

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harman_mogul [228 posts] 4 years ago
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Thank you ETS, for explaining the only acronym that is not explained. How reassuring to know my local authority is keeping London's university quarter safe.

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Alan Tullett [1568 posts] 4 years ago
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I don't really see the problem between cyclists and pedestrians. I've cycled through and around the centre of Cambridge for many, many years. In the first years I did it you could cycle through, then for a long time you couldn't and you had to go through a very dangerous road with buses coming the other way and you had to go up on the pavement to avoid being run over by one. Now, it's ok to cycle through again. In over 25 years of doing this I haven't hit a pedestrian in spite of the number of pedestrians who have nearly stepped out in front of me, and, to be honest, I am probably going to come off worse than they are in such a collision. I am also not aware of any fewer people going to Cambridge city centre now than when you couldn't cycle through it. In fact I can see no change whatsoever. Many pavements in the city and surrounding villages are shared and I'm not aware of any massive problems from this, although personally I prefer to cycle on the road, but if the surface is better sometimes I choose the pavement where it is safer, due to narrow roads, and allowed.

Nowadays, I sometimes take a detour to try and keep up my weekly total to a hundred or more and to avoid both pedestrians and other cyclists but in spite of the potential conflict there are very few real incidents of any great danger to both parties. The real dangers in the centre of Cambridge are buses and taxis and narrow roads.

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Tony [116 posts] 4 years ago
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Sam Saunders wrote:

It's good to see the ticket problem solved so quickly - well done to the CTC for that.

I think the thanks are due to Jean Dollimore of Camden Cycling Campaign for sorting this one out, not the CTC.

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WolfieSmith [1326 posts] 4 years ago
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Cambridge is my mother's home town. She tells me that bicycle vs pedestrian was always a friendly affair until the rise of the car in the mid 1950's. I'm not sure what people want of us; we're not welcome on road or pavement yet it's still the best urban transport ever invented.

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mrhallorann [16 posts] 4 years ago
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MercuryOne wrote:

Cambridge is my mother's home town. She tells me that bicycle vs pedestrian was always a friendly affair until the rise of the car in the mid 1950's. I'm not sure what people want of us; we're not welcome on road or pavement yet it's still the best urban transport ever invented.

My thoughts exactly MercuryOne. These conflicts and the continued persecution of urban- and road-cycling has very little to do with safety, which is just used as an excuse and much more to do with some weird sort of moral inferiority complex the anti-lobby experience when they see cyclists.

As you say, the rot set in with the rise of the car and what was previously viewed as totally normal transport by society gradually became stigmatised as an undesirable mark of the poor man somehow holding the more 'worthy' motorist, driving around in their status symbols.

I do wonder how countries like India and China manage these situations, where one can see thousands of cyclists and pedestrians mingling on congested streets every day.

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hairyairey [300 posts] 4 years ago
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We have exactly the same problem in Peterborough. Part of "Long Causeway" (that's the street name, we must lead the world in exotic street names - we even have a Beckingham!) has now been paved over but there are no signs saying not to cycle (There are still signs on Bridge Street which at one time was on the Millenium Green Wheel - of course there's no practical way round and the times of the restriction are bizarre 09:00-18:00 Mon-Fri some people can go to work down it but not ride home!)

Then add to the mix all the pavements where cyclists are allowed to share. It's a mess!