Numbers of careless and dangerous cyclists rise, but fewer drunk riders


The number of cyclists fined in Edinburgh for offences such as careless or dangerous riding has almost doubled since 2010. In that year, police issued 99 fixed-penalty notices to cyclists, a figure that rose to 193 in 2012/13.

The information  was obtained by a freedom of information request from The Herald, but only figures for the Lothian and Borders police were available prior to the creation of a single Scottish police force, because of differences in methods of recording the data.

However, separate statistics for the number of "reported cycling offences" within Scotland showed a 24% increase from 298 in 2010/11 to 369 in 2012/13.

Of those 369, there were 96 offences of "carelessly or inconsiderately riding a bicycle", up from 50 in 2010/11, and 36 reports of dangerous cycling, up from 27. The number of riders pedalling drunk fell from 44 to 38, while 199 offences were classified as “other”.

Reactions from motoring and cycle campaigning groups to the increase in reported cycling offences were mixed.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said that the near-100% increase in Lothian and Borders was "quite striking", but an increase in cyclin would lead to an increase in reported offences. He said: "The crucial thing is whether that's down to increased policing or more offences taking place.

"I don't think it's helpful to blame one group or another. All road-users have a responsibility to abide by the highway code, whether that's cyclists cutting through red lights at junctions or motorists texting at the wheel."

Neil Greig, director of policy for the Institute of Advanced Motoring, said the figures would reassure motorists. He said: "I'm pleased to see a rise in cycling prosecutions to match the rise in cycling. Cyclists must exercise responsibility if they want to be taken seriously as a mainstream form of transport.

"For me, it shows that the police are aware of cycling casualties and they're reacting to that. Motorists often feel that cyclists get away with bad behaviour, whether its cutting through red lights or putting themselves at risk in other ways."

John Lauder, national director of sustainable transport campaigners Sustrans Scotland, said: "It stands to reason that as more people cycle there would be more fines issued to cyclists, although it's disappointing. But it is good to see police using the law fully to penalise bad cyclists. Hopefully by doing so we'll see offences go down."

In a recent crackdown on poor driving and cycling behaviour, Edinburgh police spoke to 186 drivers and 129 cyclists and issued 15 conditional offers of a fixed penalty fine for offences such as using a mobile phone while driving, for cyclists failing to stop at a red light or for cycling on pavements.

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.