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Operation comes as CTC provides bike training to Oxford freshers

An annual crackdown by police in Oxford that targets cyclists riding without lights has resulted in 171 riders being given £50 fines in the space of three hours. The operation comes shortly after national cyclists’ organisation CTC began providing free cycle training to students at the University of Oxford.

Last Friday’s operation, which took place on Oxford High Street between 6pm and 9pm, follows a separate initiative by police in the city launched this summer that seeks to educate cyclists over the rules of the road.

As in previous years, the cyclists issued fixed penalty notices for riding without lights will avoid having to pay the fine if they can produce a receipt at a police station showing that they have bought lights for their bike, reports the Oxford Mail.

The latest campaign comes after the clocks went back, and also coincides with the arrival in Oxford of new students at its two universities, many of whom will take up cycling as a cheap, quick way of getting around the city.

It also follows a Thames Valley Police initiative running over the summer that sought to reinforcing to cyclists the importance of following the Highway Code, as well as highlighting ways to prevent bikes being stolen.

Last month, Sergeant Matt Sulley of Oxford’s city centre neighbourhood police team, told the Oxford Mail: “The idea is to keep people safe. We are here for their benefit.

“Ultimately we want to reduce casualties. Only by education can we do that.”

Under the campaign, called Operation Bike, riders were fined for ignoring red lights as well as riding through zebra crossings and no entry signs.

“We do find some cyclists just do not know what road signs mean,” said Sergeant Sully.

“Some cyclists consciously break the laws, but some just don’t know what is going on.”

He added that the initiative would return in spring next year, explaining: “We are going to keep it running indefinitely now. It has been working really well. There has been a massive interest from the public.”

Oxford has the second highest levels of cycling in the UK after Cambridge, with 28 per cent of people riding a bike at least once a week, according to a Sport England survey for the year ended October 2012.

In 2011, a total of 33 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in the two parliamentary constituencies covering the city, Oxford East, and Oxford West & Abingdon, down from 43 in 2010 and 36 in 2009, but above the 2005-10 annual average of 30.

Meanwhile, CTC has been providing cycle training to the new intake of undergraduates at the University of Oxford.

Free training was made available to students signing up to the CTC Commuter Tutor course at the university’s Fresher’s Fair.

The course is run by CTC chief training officer Greg Woodford, who said: “We will be developing on road cycling skills and learning how to deal with all traffic conditions during the training.”

The initiative followed an observation during September’s parliamentary debate on cycling from Oxford West & Abingdon MP, Nicola Blackwood that no training was available for students coming to the city for the first time.

Dan Tomlinson, Vice-President for Charities and Community at the Oxford University Student Union, commented: “Oxford is definitely a cycling city and we want our students to enjoy cycling safely during their time here.

“We have a good cycling focus at the Fresher’s Fair this year and are also helping students make sure their bikes are safe with a discounted bike lock scheme,” he added.

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.

36 comments

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andybwhite [250 posts] 2 years ago
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I'd like to know how many motorists were given fines for having defective lights (or unlit lights) during any similar period?

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jmaccelari [243 posts] 2 years ago
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A fantastic initiative. And well handled by the police. Let's hope those induced to buy lights now use them!

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Carl [138 posts] 2 years ago
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Good initiative. I wonder why they don't just get a bike shop involved and have a roadside light-fitting service so miscreants would have to get them fitted immediately. That would also save the considerable administrative expense of issuing and then cancelling penalties.

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Elcustardo [8 posts] 2 years ago
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Shouldnt need an initiative
Should be all year
lights are dirt cheap theses days for a basic set

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Joeinpoole [441 posts] 2 years ago
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Elcustardo wrote:

Shouldnt need an initiative
Should be all year
lights are dirt cheap theses days for a basic set

I agree. It's been a mystery to me for years why the police seem to mainly ignore breaches of such a fundamental law.

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colinth [191 posts] 2 years ago
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Good job by plod

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STATO [509 posts] 2 years ago
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They did this in Newcastle early in the year also, really need to prod them to do it again as going through the student areas (Jesmond especially) there are loads of riders on bikes with no lights.

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jollygoodvelo [1468 posts] 2 years ago
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There's no excuse not to have lights. There's also no excuse for driving a car with bald tyres or defective lights. I hope the police are enforcing all construction and use regs fairly: would be a shame if they were targeting one (relatively slow moving...) group, wouldn't it.

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700c [956 posts] 2 years ago
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think they have 'crackdown's' and campaigns don't they - sometimes car drivers on phones, or speeding, drink driving, sometimes cyclists 'RLJ-ing'/ without lights etc. If you accept that you can't police every infringement all of the time, then this seems an effective way to do it.

Nothing unfair about it, IMO, especially how the police are enforcing this with the 'rectification within x days' rule to avoid the fine

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Sandy_l [25 posts] 2 years ago
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I see wiggle getting bumper sales in lights this week... and bumper returns next week.

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Sandy_l [25 posts] 2 years ago
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they should have a "crackdown" in oxford on bus drivers driving like dicks!

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RichK [34 posts] 2 years ago
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Wouldn't be a bad idea to do this near any major university at this time of year. There would be a fair number of takers round here.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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andybwhite wrote:

I'd like to know how many motorists were given fines for having defective lights (or unlit lights) during any similar period?

As well as driving through red lights, this is classic victimisation and everyone laps it up as per usual.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1237 posts] 2 years ago
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Mixed feelings.

On the one hand, the law about compulsory lights seems a sensible one and as lights are now incredibly cheap I really don't understand why you wouldn't have them.

On the other hand I'm constantly irked by the one-sided and weirdly selective law enforcement I regularly see.

E.g. the policeman walking right past a car that just drew up and stopped in a mandatory cycle lane dangerously close to a junction on a double yellow line, and instead going and confiscating the booze of some entirely harmless Polish street-drinkers because its a 'no alcohol zone'.

Or the one stopping and searching some guy for unknown reasons while a white van drew up and parked illegally on the pavement right behind him.

Though giving people a grace-period to actually get lights seems quite reasonable.

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oozaveared [941 posts] 2 years ago
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Ok Fair enough. It's an offence. If I am driving my car with a defective or missing light chances are I get a "producer" though.

That would be a better use of the £50 than the fine. The bikeshop idea is a good one as well. ie you can have a £50 fine or go over there and buy some lights and get them fitted.

the fitting makes sure the bike has lights in the future and the fine does not.

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GoingRoundInCycles [133 posts] 2 years ago
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andybwhite wrote:

I'd like to know how many motorists were given fines for having defective lights (or unlit lights) during any similar period?

I doubt it was anything like 171 in the space of three hours in the entire country, let alone the centre of just one city.  13

Good grief, our brightest students supposedly go to study in Oxford and Cambridge and demonstrate such an alarming level of dimwittery when it comes to basic road safety.  35

The mind boggles.

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jmaccelari [243 posts] 2 years ago
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So the police do their job and you complain? When they don't do their job, you also complain. What WOULD you like them to do!!!???

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FluffyKittenofT... [1237 posts] 2 years ago
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jmaccelari wrote:

So the police do their job and you complain? When they don't do their job, you also complain. What WOULD you like them to do!!!???

Who are you talking to?

(and why does the 'reply to poster' function here appear to serve no useful purpose?)

Personally I wish the police would be a little more consistent and stop picking-and-choosing which laws to enforce and which to ignore. Or at least be consistently random about it - toss a coin or something.

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
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This get my full support. I cycle responsibly with hi-viz & lights. No excuses. Roll this out countrywide and it will do cycle no end of good.

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700c [956 posts] 2 years ago
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Nobody can complain about this, surely? It's for the cyclists' own good and is a sensibly targeted campaign which has a strong likelihood of making a positive difference.

As I said, the police can't enforce every law all of the time so specific campaigns like this are a good thing.

And yes, there are campaigns that target drivers also at different times of the year

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Leodis [405 posts] 2 years ago
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No thank you on the forced HiViz, nodders can wear it but no thanks.

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tourdelound [159 posts] 2 years ago
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If EVERYONE obeyed the rules there would be no need for crackdowns, in fact there would be no need for a police force.

Unfortunately EVERYONE doesn't obey the rules, and even if you have fully functioning lights, are they certified to British Standard 6102/3, 6102/2, and do you have amber pedal reflectors, and a red rear reflector?

If not you're technically not legal.

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Grubbythumb [61 posts] 2 years ago
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northstar wrote:

As well as driving through red lights, this is classic victimisation and everyone laps it up as per usual.

Victimisation?

What like when the Police stop perfectly safe car drivers in the run up to Christmas who have been to the office do and enjoyed a few 'sherbets' with their friends, but who are absolutely certain they are still safe to drive.

Is that the sort of victimisation you are talking about?

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Northernbike [229 posts] 2 years ago
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Grubbythumb wrote:
northstar wrote:

As well as driving through red lights, this is classic victimisation and everyone laps it up as per usual.

Victimisation?

What like when the Police stop perfectly safe car drivers in the run up to Christmas who have been to the office do and enjoyed a few 'sherbets' with their friends, but who are absolutely certain they are still safe to drive.

Is that the sort of victimisation you are talking about?

Areyou seriously comparing students without bike lights in a well lit city centre to drink driving which kills and injures thousands every year?

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Rouboy [93 posts] 2 years ago
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Quick get over to the big City and ticket Boris for NO rear light.

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sm [390 posts] 2 years ago
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Hoorah. Get down to London and boost your public funds with more of the same please. RLJs too. I'll personally volunteer to issue the fines if need be. Oh and cars in ASLs, might as well whilst I'm there.

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jug_23 [62 posts] 2 years ago
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I got fined for this when I was there - luckily it was only £30 at the time. No legitimate complaints because I should have chosen to walk the bike home. Only frustration is there are so people who clearly thought it was hilarious to a) nick the lights off your bike, or b) turn them on so when you come to use them they're completely drained.

The idea of a "producer" would seem a good one though - go to your LBS and buy some adequate lights to avoid a fine. I know the offence isn't directly comparable to cars where one of two headlights has failed, but if the idea is to educate it would seem commensurate.

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jug_23 [62 posts] 2 years ago
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Grubbythumb wrote:

Are you seriously comparing students without bike lights in a well lit city centre to drink driving which kills and injures thousands every year?

In spite of how emotive it all is, it's not an unfair point - cyclists who have lights are let through because they're able to identify those who are breaking the law. In random stop and check for drink driving there is no reason to specifically test that person - if a similar approach was taken to pulling over any cyclist incase they, say, had a tendency to jump red lights, we would rightly be upset about it.

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hoski [81 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm not against this, though there is much to say cyclists without lights in Oxford are at such a critical mass that all motorists look out for them the moment the sun is no longer visible...

However...

Two years ago I was cycling at around 10pm with a group of friends, some of which had no lights. A couple of police officers at the side of the road beckoned us to pull over so they could admonish the offenders (they weren't fined btw)...

They did however pull us over, across a busy junction with cars waiting to turn left.

TVP also decided to pull a van over, which if it hadn't been due to their being enough space to my left for me to escape, would have driven sideways into me.

I've also seen officers overtake cyclists with less than a foot to spare, slowly roll into ASL whilst the light was red and been tailgated by them fairly regularly.

I don't feel hugely confident about TVP lecturing people about using the roads...

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PJ McNally [591 posts] 2 years ago
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Good work, some Oxford cyclists really need to engage some brain, and get some lights. Agree it would be nice if road rules were enforced on motorists, too.

Sounds like this enforcement would pay for itself? 171*50=8550

(though hopefully most of them spend a bit on some lights, rather than £50 on the fine).

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