If you’re silly enough to ride at night without lights, it’s not just regular police you’ll have to look out for (not that you’ll be able to see them, of course): under a bill currently before Parliament, Police Community Support Officers are to get the power to stop unlit cyclists too.
Part 11 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill would give PCSOs the power to issue fixed penalty notices to cyclists riding without lights. In fact, since the bill refers to cyclists “contravening or failing to comply with a construction or use requirement about lighting equipment or reflectors for cycles” you might even get nabbed for having taken off your pedal reflectors.
Dr Julian Huppert MP, the chair of the All-party Parliamentary Committee for Cycling spoke in support of this clause of the bill, saying that law-breaking cyclists were “one of the banes of my life.”
Dr Huppert said: “It is right to extend powers to PCSOs, allowing them to issue fixed penalty notices to cyclists riding without lights. I am a huge champion of cycling. I was delighted when the House passed a motion to get Britain cycling.
“One of the banes of my life in that context is cyclists who do not obey the rules of the road. Anything that we can do to get people to cycle safely and legally will make it easier for those of us who want to extend facilities for cyclists.
“There are sensible ways forward. In Cambridge we have been using a “lights instead of tickets” campaign to make sure that people get their lights. I welcome the new clause as a sensible step forward.”
The powers of PCSOs to issue fixed penalty notices are limited to minor offences such as pavement cycling, littering and dog fouling. They have no powers to deal with similar but far more dangerous motoring offences such as driving on the pavement. According to DfT figures, 27 pedestrians were killed on pavements in 2012. We can find no reports of pedestrian fatalities involving pavement cyclists in 2012.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.