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Officer who heads London's traffic police says his orders were misinterpreted...

Police officers in an area of London were each ordered to issue fines to ten cyclists a month following the recent deaths of six bike riders in the capital.

A senior Metropolitan Police officer has said that his order was misinterpreted and that the force’s Operation Safeway initiative targets all road users, not just those on bikes.

However, concerns have been raised by cycle campaigners regarding bike riders being targeted and police setting targets.

The police operation, launched earlier this week, has seen officers take to the streets to target law-breaking road users and issue fixed penalty notices as well as giving safety advice to cyclists.

But according to an email seen by The Times, one senior officer instructed traffic police to specifically target cyclists.

In the email, Inspector Colin Davies from the Met’s South East Area Traffic Garage said: “All, can you please cascade this onto your troops. Officers have four months to do 40 cycle tickets. Ten per month, 2.5 a week. Most officers are nearing or have even achieved their other targets. This will give them a renewed focus for a while.”

The Times said that according to serving police officers, the order was tantamount to “discrimination” against cyclists and they also queried how handing out £50 fines to riders would improve safety.

However, Chief Superintendent Glyn Jones, who is in charge of the Met’s Traffic Command, said that while he had set the 40 ticket per officer performance target, it was meant to apply to a range of offences, not all of which can be committed by cyclists. He confirmed that he has now clarified his instructions.

Offences he highlighted include ignoring traffic lights and careless or inconsiderate cycling, but also stopping beyond Advanced Stop Lines at ‘bike boxes’ at traffic lights or on Barclays Cycle Superhighways.

“The e-mail from the inspector was a genuine misinterpretation of my direction,” he explained. “The offences that relate to the cycle highway and advanced stop lines can actually only be committed by motorists; and contravening traffic lights is dangerous regardless of who commits it.

“Our intention from the very beginning has always been to target dangerous road use by all road users and encourage everyone who uses our roads to be responsible and consider others around them.

He added that the inspector in question “has now issued a corrective instruction to his officers.”

British Cycling policy advisor, Chris Boardman, said that the police should be concentrating their efforts on larger vehicles.

“If you don’t have the resources to prosecute everyone who breaks the law, then it makes sense to start with the people who can cause the most harm and work down from there,” he maintained.

“The bigger and heavier the vehicle you have got, the more damage you are going to do.

“I certainly would not let law-breaking cyclists off the hook but they wouldn’t be top of my list.”

National cyclists’ organisation CTC’s policy director, Roger Geffen, also expressed concern, saying: “They may well nick cyclists for things which are not offences. If it leads to that sort of perverse enforcement then that would be very worrying.”

Others raising disquiet about police setting targets, irrespective of the type of road user, include home secretary Theresa May and shadow transport secretary, Mary Creagh, as well as AA president Edmund King, who said: “In terms of traffic policing, we do not think there should be targets for cyclists or drivers.

“It should be about targeting the most dangerous people on the road, irrespective of some arbitrary target.

“Targets put pressure on some police officers to give tickets when they are not required.”

On the opening day of Operation Safeway on Monday, police issued 150 fixed penalty notices to drivers and cyclists, mainly for using a mobile phone while driving or passing through a red light.

Some 650 officers were involved on the first day of the initiative, which will ultimately involve all 2,500 of the Met’s traffic police.

A similar initiative last week saw lorry drivers and cyclists targeted at several locations in Central London, with the latter given safety advice including being told they should wear helmets and hi-vis clothing.

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.

73 comments

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KiwiMike [1160 posts] 2 years ago
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...and people wonder why the police don't hold the respect of the public like they used to.

FFS.

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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and if the police were set targets for how many black youths they stopped and searched......

We know there are cyclists who break the rules, but to say you must catch X.....

I assume that the officers had a quota of car drivers they had to pull over....

Quote:

“If you don’t have the resources to prosecute everyone who breaks the law, then it makes sense to start with the people who can cause the most harm and work down from there,”

exactly.

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jasecd [388 posts] 2 years ago
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My last scrap of faith in the police has just vanished. Clear evidence of discrimination and then bullshit back-pedalling when called out on it.

The last few weeks have exposed the underlying prejudices against cyclists in London - the Mayor and the Met don't care about our safety or our rights. They won't tackle the real problems of dangerous drivers and poor road design - instead they make token gestures and obfuscate the argument with victim blaming distractions.

Tomorrow nights protest shouldn't just be at TFL HQ but take in GLC and New Scotland Yard.

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Legin [93 posts] 2 years ago
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That will be why when I stood at the junction of Commercial Road and Whitechapel Road, on Tuesday night for 40 minutes, the two officers on duty were stopping cyclists (not sure if they charged any), but seemed to miss all the motorists encroaching on the advance stop area and yellow box at the lights!

They even missed the minibus that having encroached in to the yellow box when queuing to turn right, then reversed backwards, causing a cyclist to take avoiding action, to switch lanes; appalling driving; oblivious police officers!

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Mart [110 posts] 2 years ago
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Improving safety my arse.
This is about trying to prove cyclists are the problem.

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notaclimber [12 posts] 2 years ago
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Great so not only do we have to look out for all the dangers normally associated with riding in London we also have to be extra vigilant looking for trigger happy police. I think that the police should have to ride at least once a month in London rush hour to realise just why cyclists make the decisions they do. I'm sure there are certain things I do which are not breaking the law but would in some eyes constitute a fine! Banging on the roofs of cars that cut me up is one!  19

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 2 years ago
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Even if it's a genuine case of chinese whispers - the very fact the Inspector was happy writing that email to his subordinates clearly means he saw it as reasonable - or else he would have double checked

Said it before and will say it again - plod has no interest in making the roads safe, just in a good arrest/case resolution record

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David Portland [83 posts] 2 years ago
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Not sure which I find more depressing -- the idiocy of the quota or the use of the phrase "cascade this to your troops".

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Username [169 posts] 2 years ago
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Shocking.

But then I'm not surprised.

"All, can you please cascade this onto your troops"

Even his use of English is offensive, 'cascade' as a verb, I ask you.

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wwfcb [85 posts] 2 years ago
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notaclimber wrote:

...... we also have to be extra vigilant looking for trigger happy police.....

Why's that ?  39

If your doing nothing wrong, then you don't have to look out for the Police.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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wwfcb wrote:
notaclimber wrote:

...... we also have to be extra vigilant looking for trigger happy police.....

Why's that ?  39

If your doing nothing wrong, then you don't have to look out for the Police.

Like getting pulled for not wearing a helmet?

Or getting pulled for listening to music?

What about being fined for "dangerous weaving"?

I suppose you are ok with police stopping people for riding cargo bikes too?

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bobinski [226 posts] 2 years ago
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should we not take some heart from the fact officers lower in the ranks questioned the initiative and then leaked it?

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Alb [127 posts] 2 years ago
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Well done the Police, well done  41

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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wwfcb wrote:
notaclimber wrote:

...... we also have to be extra vigilant looking for trigger happy police.....

Why's that ?  39

If your doing nothing wrong, then you don't have to look out for the Police.

I assume you have been reading and watching the news? cyclists being pulled for not wearing helmets or Hi-Viz? what about entering an ASL by any means other than the filter lane, or positioning yourself in front of a minicab that is occuping the ASL. Also remember that there may be no speedlimit for bikes but there is furious riding, now try and define that?

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oozaveared [936 posts] 2 years ago
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wwfcb wrote "Why's that ? Thinking If your doing nothing wrong, then you don't have to look out for the Police."

I have to say that this is a bit naive. In terms of road use the police can pretty much catch anyone out if they try. Just for example: If they don't see you look before crossing a give way line (whether or not you did look or not) that's an offence. How many times do you look behind you, see an empty road and them move across without using a hand signal (cos there is no-one back there - to see it.)? If you watch any road user long enough and hard enough or focus on one type of road user you will find something however innocuous or trivial to stick them on for. If your boss then tells you to find a certain number then that's when the "silly buggers" starts.

An old adage from the military describes how we should view this week's shenanigans by the Met. "never mistake movement for action." The police are not acting on road safety but they are moving around a lot to make the less observant and gullible think they are.

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Rouboy [90 posts] 2 years ago
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Congratulations to the Met decision makers for joining the we hate cycles brigade. What happened to fairness and transparency? Or is that just when it suits your personal selfish needs.
Remind me why did you join the police service?????

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Sevenfold [44 posts] 2 years ago
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Yet again...

David Bowie - "Life on Mars"

Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy

 102 2

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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Sad state of affairs when the police's 'focus' is on issuing tickets, whoever the recipient.

Call me old fashioned but I want a police force who just look out for the public and protect us from lawless and irresponsible behaviour when it happens.

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djcritchley [181 posts] 2 years ago
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Common sense from AA president Edmund King ... “In terms of traffic policing, we do not think there should be targets for cyclists or drivers. It should be about targeting the most dangerous people on the road, irrespective of some arbitrary target."

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cyclingDMlondon [483 posts] 2 years ago
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I confess to being somewhat amused that there is so much opposition to the law being applied to cyclists. OK, this particular article is about targets, so fair enough: that's not going to win any favours.

But again this morning, I had to dodge two cyclists. One went through on the red, cursing at pedestrians who were crossing on the green man (this was at the westernmost end of Cheapside), and another turned into a side street, shouting at pedestrians to get out of the way.

Caveat: I'm not a trolling motorist. My only means of transport is a bicycle, and I'm happy for that to continue. I cycle into London every day, and am gobsmacked at the almost complete impunity with which a *lot* of cyclists overtake on the left, go through red lights, cycle on the pavements, go the wrong way up one-way streets, barge pedestrians out of the way, and so on. This doesn't excuse motorists, and yes: they inflict far greater damage than a cyclist ever can. But that does not justify the outrageous behaviour of far too many cyclists. We can't take the moral high ground whilst so many of us act like complete knobs.

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Saratoga [32 posts] 2 years ago
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It's not just London that this happens in. My own local police force would regularly organise massive operations to target cyclists whilst ignoring all motorists committing the very same offences right in front of them. I saw one officer using a mobile phone while driving too.  39

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BikeBud [201 posts] 2 years ago
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Almost beyond belief, if it weren't for all the "plebgate" stuff!

Thank you Theresa May, Edmund King & Chris Boardman. Can you three run the Met traffic division for us please?!

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BikeBud [201 posts] 2 years ago
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cyclingDMlondon wrote:

I confess to being somewhat amused that there is so much opposition to the law being applied to cyclists. OK, this particular article is about targets, so fair enough: that's not going to win any favours.

But again this morning, I had to dodge two cyclists. One went through on the red, cursing at pedestrians who were crossing on the green man (this was at the westernmost end of Cheapside), and another turned into a side street, shouting at pedestrians to get out of the way.

Caveat: I'm not a trolling motorist. My only means of transport is a bicycle, and I'm happy for that to continue. I cycle into London every day, and am gobsmacked at the almost complete impunity with which a *lot* of cyclists overtake on the left, go through red lights, cycle on the pavements, go the wrong way up one-way streets, barge pedestrians out of the way, and so on. This doesn't excuse motorists, and yes: they inflict far greater damage than a cyclist ever can. But that does not justify the outrageous behaviour of far too many cyclists. We can't take the moral high ground whilst so many of us act like complete knobs.

Agreed - there are some/many complete a*****les on bikes. I'm happy for the Police to stop them and offer words of advice, fine them or charge them as necessary. I detest them, because they give cyclists a bad name.

But this story is about targets, prejudice, and a complete lack of understanding about what needs to be done to address the safety problem.

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Colin Peyresourde [1674 posts] 2 years ago
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The article title intones more of a bias than there is….I am guessing that there are targets for other crimes, including traffic offences by all road users. In fact the article says that the Chief Inspector did clarify this wasn't just aimed at cyclists. But I would imagine that they are under pressure to enforce the road rules for cyclists at this point in time after the high press coverage.

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cyclingDMlondon [483 posts] 2 years ago
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BikeBud wrote:
cyclingDMlondon wrote:

I confess to being somewhat amused that there is so much opposition to the law being applied to cyclists. OK, this particular article is about targets, so fair enough: that's not going to win any favours.

But again this morning, I had to dodge two cyclists. One went through on the red, cursing at pedestrians who were crossing on the green man (this was at the westernmost end of Cheapside), and another turned into a side street, shouting at pedestrians to get out of the way.

Caveat: I'm not a trolling motorist. My only means of transport is a bicycle, and I'm happy for that to continue. I cycle into London every day, and am gobsmacked at the almost complete impunity with which a *lot* of cyclists overtake on the left, go through red lights, cycle on the pavements, go the wrong way up one-way streets, barge pedestrians out of the way, and so on. This doesn't excuse motorists, and yes: they inflict far greater damage than a cyclist ever can. But that does not justify the outrageous behaviour of far too many cyclists. We can't take the moral high ground whilst so many of us act like complete knobs.

Agreed - there are some/many complete a*****les on bikes. I'm happy for the Police to stop them and offer words of advice, fine them or charge them as necessary. I detest them, because they give cyclists a bad name.

But this story is about targets, prejudice, and a complete lack of understanding about what needs to be done to address the safety problem.

It's really not difficult or complicated, but it requires a change in the law, and a greater shift in the mental state which excuses offences connected with the roads. A taster...

  • Go through a red light (or stop in a ASL whilst in/on a motor vehicle), and you incur an automatic three-month ban.
  • Be found in control of a vehicle within that three months, and you incur an automatic twelve-month prison sentence, and are banned for a further five years
  • Be found in control of a vehicle again, before the second ban expires, and you are banned for life, and imprisoned for ten years.
  • Cause an accident and you are immediately and irrevocably banned for life. If injury to another road user occurs, you are also imprisoned for five years, and forced to pay the victim's medical and legal costs for the rest of his or her life.

All of the above should apply to cyclists, although of course, finding a cyclist who is defying a ban is always going to be difficult.

But I can suggest these measures because I'm one of the good guys. I never go through a red light. I never ride on the pavement, and I give way to pedestrians where the law requires it.

But of course, none of this will happen. We are so in love with the road and so convinced that our national wealth is tied up with it, that we're willing to accept carnage.

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dp24 [201 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

“The e-mail from the inspector was a genuine misinterpretation of my direction,”

A pathetic attempt at trying to weasel his way out of the situation.

I'd have far more respect for him if he had the balls to simply say "yes, I have told my officers to target cyclists because I think there's a need to".

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Legin [93 posts] 2 years ago
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cyclingDMlondon wrote:

I confess to being somewhat amused that there is so much opposition to the law being applied to cyclists. OK, this particular article is about targets, so fair enough: that's not going to win any favours.

But again this morning, I had to dodge two cyclists. One went through on the red, cursing at pedestrians who were crossing on the green man (this was at the westernmost end of Cheapside), and another turned into a side street, shouting at pedestrians to get out of the way.

Caveat: I'm not a trolling motorist. My only means of transport is a bicycle, and I'm happy for that to continue. I cycle into London every day, and am gobsmacked at the almost complete impunity with which a *lot* of cyclists overtake on the left, go through red lights, cycle on the pavements, go the wrong way up one-way streets, barge pedestrians out of the way, and so on. This doesn't excuse motorists, and yes: they inflict far greater damage than a cyclist ever can. But that does not justify the outrageous behaviour of far too many cyclists. We can't take the moral high ground whilst so many of us act like complete knobs.

Spot on!

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Simon E [2613 posts] 2 years ago
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cyclingDMlondon wrote:

I cycle into London every day, and am gobsmacked at the almost complete impunity with which a *lot* of cyclists overtake on the left, go through red lights, cycle on the pavements, go the wrong way up one-way streets, barge pedestrians out of the way, and so on. This doesn't excuse motorists, and yes: they inflict far greater damage than a cyclist ever can. But that does not justify the outrageous behaviour of far too many cyclists. We can't take the moral high ground whilst so many of us act like complete knobs.

Rubbish. Some people will 'barge' with their trolleys in the supermarket or jump queues on the Tube or wherever. Some intimidate pedestrians and cyclists with 2 or more tonnes of metal.

But what's with the 'collective responsibility' bollocks?

I don't break the law or ride like a knob and I am NOT responsible for anybody who does, just as I wouldn't shoplift and don't ever expect to have to answer for someone else who does it, whether they ride a bicycle or not.

Infrastructure + education + enforcement is the answer.

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Joeinpoole [439 posts] 2 years ago
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wwfcb wrote:

If your doing nothing wrong, then you don't have to look out for the Police.

Beautiful! Just beautiful. Try telling that to Jean Charles de Menezes to name just one example.

Btw, you are abbreviating the words 'you' and 'are' so you should have used 'you're'.

2/10 _ See me!

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cyclingDMlondon [483 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon E wrote:
cyclingDMlondon wrote:

I cycle into London every day, and am gobsmacked at the almost complete impunity with which a *lot* of cyclists overtake on the left, go through red lights, cycle on the pavements, go the wrong way up one-way streets, barge pedestrians out of the way, and so on. This doesn't excuse motorists, and yes: they inflict far greater damage than a cyclist ever can. But that does not justify the outrageous behaviour of far too many cyclists. We can't take the moral high ground whilst so many of us act like complete knobs.

Rubbish. Some people will 'barge' with their trolleys in the supermarket or jump queues on the Tube or wherever. Some intimidate pedestrians and cyclists with 2 or more tonnes of metal.

But what's with the 'collective responsibility' bollocks?

I don't break the law or ride like a knob and I am NOT responsible for anybody who does, just as I wouldn't shoplift and don't ever expect to have to answer for someone else who does it, whether they ride a bicycle or not.

I'm not asking you to take responsibility.

I'm simply pointing out that whining, 'Ewwww.. why are cyclists being targeted, not fair, not fair, not fair!!' is not logical or coherent.

If you ride responsiby, then fine. I do, too, and I have never been bothered by plod.

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