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Cycle groups applaud action, but both they and council cast doubt on rise in numbers

An increase of anti-social cycling cases in Cambridge is causing concern and has led police to launch a crackdown and hand out penalty notices.

Cambridge City Council recorded nearly 900 incidents of anti-social cycling between April and June, up from 689 in the previous three months. Police have launched a crackdown, handing out 27 penalty notices against cyclists contravening traffic signals in the city centre since the start of July, along with 17 for cyclists riding on the pavement. The penalty notices set cyclists back £30 a time.

The council’s city centre rangers make daily patrols to check that cyclists are following the rules, engaging in what they describe as “friendly chats” to those who are not. For the 883 cases of anti-social cycling recorded between April and June, Sidney Street and Bridge Street were the worst areas.

But cycling groups in the city feel the statistics are slightly misleading. A spokesperson from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign said: “Of course we'd expect such reports to rise at the time of year when there are more cyclists compared with January-March. It would have been more relevant to compare with a similar period last year. Remember these were not fines or prosecutions, but the City Rangers warning cyclists, not necessarily for specific offences.

“In both Sidney Street and Bridge Street there is ignorance among many users of the regulations. Better signing would help, but there is justifiable opposition to 'clutter' of street signs.”

Cycling and walking promotion and development officer in Cambridge Clare Rankin said: “Anti-social cycling is anything from cycling on pavements, and cycling without lights to cycling along pedestrian-only routes.”

But with regards the number of complaints about cycling she does not think it’s any different despite the rise in riders. “We haven’t had any more complaints from people about cycling than we usually have. It’s a perception thing – a lot of near misses cyclists will perceive as just cycling whereas pedestrians will perceive a near miss as more dangerous.”

The city is renowned for its enthusiastic cyclists with one in four residents said to cycle to work, and the city provides cycling maps, city locker hire and cycle parking, adult cycle training schemes, safer routes to schools, and cycle hire.

The anti-social use of cycles and vehicles in the city centre was made a neighbourhood policing priority in January following consultation with the public.
The figures on anti-social cycling are revealed in a report by the city council and police officers being presented to the council’s west/central area committee on Thursday.

The spokesperson from Cambridge Cycling Campaign added: “We support action by the police to clamp down on anti-social cycling. We also wish to see an extended period of enforcement to help get the message across, rather than merely just single days of action that have recently been held – the police can and should do more.

“We particularly urge them to concentrate on enforcement of cycle light offences when the clocks go back.”