Free lights for kids as Dorset & Cambridge police tackle unlit cycling

Adults get seven days to light up in annual autumn crackdowns

by John Stevenson   November 7, 2013  

Time to light up (CC licensed image by B-Nack:Flickr)

Oxford recently had its annual crackdown on unlit cycling - now it’s the turn of Cambridge and Dorset.

Cambridge police will deploy special constables today as part of ‘Operation Pedalo’ to crack down on “dangerous” and “anti-social” cycling.

In Dorset, police will focus on unlit cycling, and will give children and young people caught without lights a free set. Adults will be issued with a fixed penalty notice, but in both areas police will give riders a chance to buy lights rather than be fined.

In Cambridge, the specials will patrol hot spot areas to reduce cycle crime, and target lighting and pavement offences.

Cambridgeshire police said: “Operation Pedalo is about educating people and enforcing anti-social cycling and cycling offences to make Cambridge safer for all road users.

“The aim of the operation is to reduce road deaths and casualties amongst cyclists, and reduce cycle crime and anti-social cycling in the city.”

The targeted “hot spot” areas include Market Street, Sidney Street, Downing Street, Regent Street, Drummer Street, St Andrew's Street, Arbury Road, Milton Road, Mill Road, Silver Street, Fitzroy Street, Burleigh Street, Hills Road and Elizabeth Way Bridge.

The campaign will focus on red-light offences and cyclists riding without lights. A LIT (Lights Instead of Tickets) scheme will provide unlit riders with a chance to redeem themselves by buying lights within seven days.

Special Superintendent John Haslop said: "This is another chance to educate cyclists and enforce the law.

"There is a lot of dangerous cycling within Cambridge and we have heard frustration from local residents at neighbourhood meetings where anti-social cycling has been named as a priority.

"We want to tackle this problem and reduce the number of collisions and more than 15 Specials will be working on this operation."

Meanwhile, in Dorset

The Dorset initiative is simply termed ‘Bike Lights’ so as to not lead people to think it’s a crackdown on anti-social boating.

Officers will stop unlit cyclists. Children and young people will be issued with a suitable warning on the consequences of riding without lights and visibility clothing.

Traffic officers will then fit a set of front and rear lights to the cycle and issue the rider with ‘No Excuse’ reflective snap bands and a fluorescent bag. This will be free to the child or young person and has been funded by Dorset Road Safe.

Adults will be issued a £50 fixed penalty notice and a defect notice, but the ticket will be cancelled if they take their bike to a police station within seven days with lights correctly fitted.

Inspector Matt Butler, of Dorset Police Traffic Unit, said: “No Excuse is about recognising vulnerable road users and the behaviour that leads to collisions.

“Cyclists are a vulnerable road user group and this initiative aims to reduce the risk of harm posed to them, making sure cyclists – in particular children and young people – can be seen.

“All cyclists should wear a helmet, light coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight and reflective clothing with bike lights in the dark. This will make sure that they are seen by other road users.

“Officers working on ‘No Excuse’ continue to target all road user behaviour that can lead to collisions - be that the poor driving of a motorist or the poor riding of a cyclist, including failing to stop at red lights.

“I have seen many serious and fatal collisions involving cyclists. Irrespective of fault, in a collision between a car and a bicycle, the cyclist will always come off worse.”

12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Overalll I applaud this approach but the comments made by the police officers show that they stilll don't really understand the issues.

e.g. Special Superintendent John Haslop said: "There is a lot of dangerous cycling within Cambridge ....."

In light of that comment I wonder whether the police are able to spot "dangerous cycling" more easily than they seem to be able to recognise "dangerous driving"?

Shay

posted by shay cycles [211 posts]
7th November 2013 - 13:32

like this
Like (12)

shay cycles wrote:
Overalll I applaud this approach but the comments made by the police officers show that they stilll don't really understand the issues.

e.g. Special Superintendent John Haslop said: "There is a lot of dangerous cycling within Cambridge ....."

In light of that comment I wonder whether the police are able to spot "dangerous cycling" more easily than they seem to be able to recognise "dangerous driving"?

In Cambridge our problem is probably less the police, more our Police and Crime Commissioner, tory loon Sir Graham Bright, it's him who sets the priorities. The man has a vendetta against bikes, he must have fallen off one as a kid or something, they're pretty much the only thing he ever talks about.

While there is undoubtedly some atrocious cycling in Cambridge, seriously it makes me petrified and furious by turns, there is also some awful driving: I probably see at least one driver using a handheld mobile each day, infringements of ASLs are the norm, ludicrous speed and homicidal manoeuvres seem to be qualifying criteria for the taxi and HGV drivers plying their trade on our all-too-narrow streets, I have countless friends who have been knocked off by SMIDSYs (thankfully none seriously hurt). Yet letters to Sir Bright about this, don't even warrant a reply apparently, much less any action.

I applaud the police for trying to improve cycling standards in Cambridge, but the quality of driving needs at very least the same attention.

posted by Cantab [58 posts]
7th November 2013 - 13:50

like this
Like (11)

“All cyclists should wear a helmet, light coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight and reflective clothing with bike lights in the dark. This will make sure that they are seen by other road users."

What a tit. Maybe they should charge drivers who glance when pulling out and kill someone, that might get drivers looking rather than glancing.

posted by Leodis [176 posts]
7th November 2013 - 14:15

like this
Like (14)

How the fuzz pull over the cars that have faulty lights. I see loads every time the sun sets. Last weekend i was no further than 200m from home and I saw 3 cars running with one headlight. Never heard of anyone being nicked for it either.

posted by Guyz2010 [281 posts]
7th November 2013 - 14:17

like this
Like (9)

Wonder whether they're clamping down on cars with faulty lighting as well.

posted by eclecticcyclist [4 posts]
7th November 2013 - 14:20

like this
Like (5)

I have read several articles referencing Graham Bright and he does seem like complete bell end.

posted by IanW1968 [135 posts]
7th November 2013 - 14:27

like this
Like (17)

Quote:
All cyclists should wear a helmet, light coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight and reflective clothing with bike lights in the dark. This will make sure that they are seen by other road users.

It's good to see that the cash-strapped, resource-starved police have enough manpower to waste on promoting bogus safety advice.

1. All cyclists should not wear a helmet. They do fuck-all for anything except very minor injuries. They increase the radius of the head, possibly leading to more serious rotational injuries.

2. Light/flourescent clothing has not been shown to make much of a difference in daylight.

3. Bike lights are only one part of the equation, quality reflectors, especially those on the pedals or lower ankles have been shown to be recognized by motorists at much further distances than static reflectors or lights.

And the real kicker behind all this is that even if you do all that, it'll reduce your chances a bit, but they could put the effort into chasing down all the car drivers who regularly speed.

This "well meaning" "safety advice" needs to be seen in the context of a police force which is ill-equipped and unprepared to deal with the underlying problem on the roads (morons driving several thousand kilograms of metal).

By all means cyclists should take these measures if it makes them feel safer, but the diversion of scarce police resources into this initiative is questionable, at the least.

posted by Ush [379 posts]
7th November 2013 - 16:36

like this
Like (15)

Sounds like I need to get into the cycling light business! But in all fairness I love the idea of free lights for children. Even giving the opportunity to purchase a set rather than get a fine is pretty decent as long as they don't jack the prices way up

posted by jarredscycling [436 posts]
7th November 2013 - 17:59

like this
Like (10)

A few years ago I acquired a box of about 120 sets of those little backup lights that fit with an elastic strap for nearly nowt. I decided to give these out to anybody I saw riding about with no lights, after one winter about two thirds were gone. A lot of adults would tell me to F off but kids were always really pleased and often said they wanted lights but their parents wouldn't buy them for them. With that in mind I feel this is by far the best approach despite the somewhat ill conceived thinking behind it.

posted by drfabulous0 [274 posts]
7th November 2013 - 22:04

like this
Like (7)

Well I'm going to send my kids out without lights until they get nicked, I mean free lights. I could do with a set for my other bike...

posted by horizontal dropout [148 posts]
7th November 2013 - 22:10

like this
Like (8)

Why does nobody say or do anything until AFTER the clocks go back?

Surely prevention is better than cure.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1919 posts]
8th November 2013 - 17:28

like this
Like (6)

This is not motivated by cyclist safety, going by study referenced below. There's no annual police campaign focusing on zero tolerance towards ASL lawbreaking by those killer lorries mowing down well-lit cyclists every other day in London, is there?

This is about the pr end of the police setting priorities to flatter and reassure reactionary community councillors and tabloid readers that they're dealing with problem cyclists, anti-social youth and any other outsider groups (all one and the same, for many, clearly).

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/dec/15/cycling-bike-accidents-study

Quote:
"A tiny proportion of accidents involving cyclists are caused by riders jumping red lights or stop signs, or failing to wear high-visibility clothing and use lights, a government-commissioned study has discovered.

"The study, carried out for the Department for Transport, found that in 2% of cases where cyclists were seriously injured in collisions with other road users police said that the rider disobeying a stop sign or traffic light was a likely contributing factor. Wearing dark clothing at night was seen as a potential cause in about 2.5% of cases, and failure to use lights was mentioned 2% of the time.

posted by vbvb [225 posts]
8th November 2013 - 23:08

like this
Like (5)