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Rider pulled over for 'undertaking' by officer in car that had been in ASL box...

Northumbria Police have issued an apology to a cyclist wrongfully pulled over for ‘undertaking’ a police car that itself had illegally been driven beyond an Advanced Stop Line (ASL) at a set of traffic lights in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The incident, which took place on Grainger Street, was captured by rider Michael Smiles' helmet cam, as reported by Sky Tyne & Wear.

Mr Smiles had been pulled over by police shortly after passing the vehicle to the left as he moved through the ASL, known unofficially as ‘bike boxes’ or ‘cycle boxes.’

The policeman insisted the rider had illegally undertaken him.

But when Mr Smiles told the officer he himself was the one who had broken the law, the latter simply replied, “rubbish,” before getting back in his vehicle and driving off.

"I was so angry. He just didn't give me a chance to speak,” the cyclist said.

"I hadn't undertaken him, I'd done a perfectly legal manoeuvre.

"All I really want is for people to know what the law is regarding cycle boxes.

"It's a space cyclists need to get away safely from traffic lights."

Northumbria Police have accepted that their officer had made a mistake and apologised to Mr Smiles.

In a statement, they said: “All officers [apart from the one in the video, presumably - ed] are aware of the laws and rules of the road and we'll ensure they are reminded about this where necessary."

ASLs first apearred in Oxford in 1986. Their use is governed by Rule 178 of the Highway Code, which says:

Advanced stop lines. Some signal-controlled junctions have advanced stop lines to allow cycles to be positioned ahead of other traffic. Motorists, including motorcyclists, MUST stop at the first white line reached if the lights are amber or red and should avoid blocking the way or encroaching on the marked area at other times, e.g. if the junction ahead is blocked. If your vehicle has proceeded over the first white line at the time that the signal goes red, you MUST stop at the second white line, even if your vehicle is in the marked area. Allow cyclists time and space to move off when the green signal shows.

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.

25 comments

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paulrbarnard [182 posts] 2 years ago
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"In a statement, they said: “All officers are aware of the laws and rules of the road and we'll ensure they are reminded about this where necessary.""
That is obviously a false statement. If it was true the police officer WILFULLY broke the law and should be prosecuted. I would suggest that the Northumbria police spokesman be a little less pious and admit that not all police know the law and rather than "reminding" them they give them some proper training

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festival [107 posts] 2 years ago
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Well done to Mr Smiles,love the tin of Muc off on top of the fridge in the kitchen. A real cyclist.

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cidermart [489 posts] 2 years ago
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£100 fine or was this prior to that??

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fatty [77 posts] 2 years ago
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Never mind reminding them - send PC Rubbish a fine, that's what they'd do to anybody else.

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therealsmallboy [168 posts] 2 years ago
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The most frustrating part of that footage is the dismissive swipe of the officers' hands as he says "no firstly" and then turns his back on Mr Smiles. So rude.

AT LEAST LET THE MAN EXPLAIN HIS ACTIONS YOU IDIOT!!!

It's about time some of these officers were reminded that not all cyclists are dicks and that part of their job is to keep us safe by upholding road law, not breaking it.

Another anti-cyclist in a metal box. Shame that he was wearing the proud uniform of the Police. One bad apple can ruin the bunch.

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dp24 [201 posts] 2 years ago
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Police often talk about the 'attitude test' being important when it comes to stopping people on the road.

It'd be nice if officers like this might heed their own advice.

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amazon22 [258 posts] 2 years ago
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What is 'illegal undertaking'? PC Plod seems one step away from a road rage attack the way he came out of that car - totally out of order.

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dbb [34 posts] 2 years ago
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well that explains why the police don't enforce rule 178!

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Steezysix [27 posts] 2 years ago
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Rather than prosecute or fine the police officer, just take away his squad car and give him a shiny police bicycle for his patrols - he might learn a thing or two. Plus the exercise would do him some good...

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hampstead_bandit [614 posts] 2 years ago
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Spent some time talking to a bicycle mounted policeman on Thursday outside our bike shop in central London.

I specifically asked him about the law on ASL and london borough of Camden's two month old, 20mph borough wide speed limit, sad to say he was clueless about both.

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1750nick [11 posts] 2 years ago
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It's a simple case that he probably hates cyclist. Only difference is to every other driver on the road is that he is in a position to forcefully stop and challenge you. If you don't abide then he is also in a position to arrest you. I work for the ambulance service and it is the same there. I've worked with people who clearly don't have the time of day for cyclist and if they are called out to them during shift, following being knocked off etc... then they show it (including the police that are are also on scene).

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1750nick [11 posts] 2 years ago
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....and surely it should be the Police Officer apologising not someone sat in an office!

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paulmcmillan [97 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't want to have to wear a helmet camera but........  102

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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paulmcmillan wrote:

I don't want to have to wear a helmet camera but........  102

+1

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kitkat [382 posts] 2 years ago
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Interestingly, the light turns orange just as he reaches the back of the car. Personally I wouldn't have tried passing the car given the light had just turned to green and the limited space to pass squeeze through.

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Kinky aggro [4 posts] 2 years ago
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Agree with kitkat. It's all well and laudable videocam cyclists performing this manoeuvre to prove a point, but I doubt that will be much consolation to his mother when we're all on YouTube watching a video of the day a poor driver decides to turn left too sharply without looking...

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therealsmallboy [168 posts] 2 years ago
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Kitkat, Kinky aggro, that is true and undertaking a left-turning vehicle is idiotic.

However, if the Police car wasn't in the ASL Mr Smiles would have been able to use it correctly for the purpose it is meant- to protect cyclist from bigger vehicles when the lights change. The car would have been so far back from the junction that the cyclist would have had adequate room for safety. As it happened, the car was too far left and too far forward.

Then to make matters worse the PO pulled him!

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Geoffroid [17 posts] 2 years ago
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I used to commute past Gateshead Police Station, and both on duty and off duty staff would regularly come out of the car park and drive straight into the cycle box.

I am not a fan of the ASL and cycle box, but it is irritating that the police themselves either didn't know or didn't care what it was for.

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Kinky aggro [4 posts] 2 years ago
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therealsmallboy wrote:

Kitkat, Kinky aggro, that is true and undertaking a left-turning vehicle is idiotic.

However, if the Police car wasn't in the ASL Mr Smiles would have been able to use it correctly for the purpose it is meant- to protect cyclist from bigger vehicles when the lights change. The car would have been so far back from the junction that the cyclist would have had adequate room for safety. As it happened, the car was too far left and too far forward.

Then to make matters worse the PO pulled him!

I think you're absolutely spot on. The only person on the wrong was the police officer. My point was merely that if you risk serious injury or worse just because you think you're in the right, then you're not using common sense. You then become a danger even if you aren't breaking the law. Example: what is the minimum speed limit on the motorway? There isn't one, so can you assume it's safe to drive at 25mph?

There are times to take a stand and times to shake your head and get on with your life.
Hitler invades Poland: take-up arms and fight for human rights.
PC invades ASL box in front of you: take a picture, send it in & move on.

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therealsmallboy [168 posts] 2 years ago
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Haha! Good point.

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bendertherobot [1145 posts] 2 years ago
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But he was happy to move on. He got pulled by them.

I guarantee this, if he hadn't had a cam he'd have been absolutely berated by the coppers for this. And, given the quick climbdown on seeing the camera you can bet the officer in question just ignored the law.

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philbo [20 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't speak Geordie but got the jist of what's being said.
Fair enough the police get it wrong sometimes as do cyclists but this coppers attitude was poor and aggressive, he should have a reprimand for that alone. Total embarassement to the force.
He also looks like he needs to get on his bike and lose a few pounds. Too much time eating donuts in his panda car.

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qwerky [184 posts] 2 years ago
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Its things like this that discredit the police, I sincerely hope that the officer has been seen by his professional standards department and told to stop;

a) breaking the law (entering the ASL)
b) being ignorant of the law (cycling on the left)
c) incivility and total lack of respect for a member of the public

Sadly it seems to me that this isn't a one off, its more the norm than the exception.

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fatbeggaronabike [823 posts] 2 years ago
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With reference to the quoted statement, “All officers are aware of the laws and rules of the road and we'll ensure they are reminded about this where necessary."

IF they are aware of the rules & laws of the road WHY would they need to be reminded about them?  39

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Simon E [2774 posts] 2 years ago
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Sadly, when you put an ignorant tosser in uniform it always makes them a bigger tosser than before.

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