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.