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Cambridge lights crackdown making cyclists more switched on, say police

Oxford ahead of Cambridge when it comes to number of fines handed out as police note cultural shift away from riding without lights in the light blue city

Police in Cambridge say a campaign to ensure cyclists use lights in the hours of darkness is working despite more than 300 bike riders being handed fines for failing to do so.

Under Cambridgeshire Police’s Lights Instead of Tickets initiative, people were able to avoid paying a £30 fine if they were able to prove they had bought a set of lights within seven days of being issued a fixed penalty notice. The inititiative is similar to that run by police in Oxford where a total of 354 fixed penaly notices have been handed out so far this year in two police operations. 

According to Cambridge News, police targeted riders on Arbury Road, Milton Road and Mitcham’s Corner during the month-long operation with a total of 304 people given fines and 151 others spoken to by police.

Sergeant Jason Wragg told Cambridge City Council’s north area committee: “PCSOs from the north area team have been active with the LIT campaign, which targeted various anti-social cycling offences.

He said it was “difficult to qualify” the effect of the operation, “but colloquially local culture does seem to be changing, for example more cyclists seem to have lights.”

He admitted that bike theft remained an issue, adding that officers were closely monitoring a group of youths believed to be stealing bicycles.

“As with the drug dealing, cycle issues are city-wide problems and other area teams have also prioritised similar work,” he continued. “Together with the east area team, we have carried out two warrants in relation to the handling of stolen bikes and arrested five individuals.

“We have recovered three stolen bikes as a result of pro-active targeted stop-searches and have been able to return them to their owners.

“Cycle crime is still high, with a couple of groups of youths targeting cycles on pretty much a nightly basis,” he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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John Smith | 9 years ago

Now can they do something about the latest "Thing" I have seen in Oxford, people holding touches and phones as lights. How on earth they brake safely I don't know. I wish they would have more crackdowns on this, and at the same time pull over cars with broken bulbs. Hand them all fines with the same thing of "Fix the problem and you don't pay the fine" option.

Matt eaton | 9 years ago

I've no objection to the police stopping cyclists for this sort of thing but it does feel like another example of taking the easy option when it comes to road policing.

Maybe they are doing just as much work with drivers and we just don't hear about it.

Airzound | 9 years ago

I was in Bridge Street a few days ago getting ready to ride off on my bike, had noticed a cheap Schwinn road bike near by me propped up against a lamp post. A crappy set of lights front and rear had been left on and both tyres were totally flat, the front left STI unit was bent around and the hood was a bit damaged. Anyway after 10 minutes of my faffing to get ready, this very young looking bloke and woman scruffily dressed came up to me and said,

Bloke cop : "We have been trying for hours to get this bike nicked".

Me: "Sorry?"

The guy briefly flashed a police warrant card from his jacket.

Bloke cop: "You wouldn't think it would be this hard to lose a bike in Cambridge, a nice bike like this."

Me : "But it's not a nice bike. For a start both tyres are totally flat so no one will get very far on it and front brake/gear lever is bent round, the bar tape is damaged so it's likely had a crash plus it's quite a cheap nasty brand".

Woman Cop : "Well even so …".

Me : "I think a thief and anyone who knows anything about bikes would realise this. Anyway can you not leave this bike here as it is inviting thieves to this area thinking there are bikes to steal. I work near here so leave my bike here and so do a few of my colleagues. We don't want our bikes nicked thank you very much."

Bloke Cop : "Oh right, sorry. We didn't think about that."

He takes the bike and they walk off slowly toward Sydney Street to presumably leave it somewhere else for some one else to be tempted to steal it.

As they walk off several cyclists ride past them in the dark, the wrong way up Bridge Street and Sydney Street, it is one way, and with no lights.

gavben | 9 years ago

No problem with targeting cyclists, but what about the same crackdown on motorists? Passed 9 cars with defective lights between Addenbrookes and A11 this morning (8am on a very quiet morning).
Roads Policing see no issue with this at all, despite it being far more dangerous.

Airzound | 9 years ago

Yeah only 304 fined is a tiny amount. I see so many cyclists without lights in Cambridge. And before any one starts you must have seen them so they don't need lights lark, there is something called street lighting ambient light but they still need lights on their bikes. And then there are the numptees who have a pathetic rear light with almost flat batteries or the light on their back packs facing the skies to warn aircraft and birds. Muppets.

Arbury and adjacent area Milton Road is a shit hole of a place - chav and drug dealers rife. I have seen deals/exchanges being done in broad daylight. No police ever around.

I wish the plods would patrol Sydney going into Bridge Street more often to catch and fine the tossers who ride the wrong way along these streets and who also on the adjacent narrow pavements causing pedestrians to scatter. Point this out to cyclists and you are routinely told to Fuck off or threatened with violence.

EarsoftheWolf | 9 years ago

450 people is a drop in the ocean in Cambridge, but at least they're doing something I guess.

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