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More than 1,000 fined in latest phase of Met's Operation Safeway

Officers out in force targeting law-breaking road users again in London last week

More than 1,000 fixed penalty notices were issued to road users in London for a variety of offences last week as the Metropolitan Police continued its Operation Safeway road safety campaign.

The latest phase of the initiative also saw 56 vehicles seized because they were either not insured or the driver did not have a valid licence, while 25 people were arrested on suspicion of having committed a variety of offences, some unrelated to motoring.

Operation Safeway was launched in November last year following the deaths of six cyclists on the capital’s streets in the space of a fortnight.

Officers belonging to the force’s Roads and Transport Policing Command took part in the initiative last week from 15-19 December and were deployed at major road junctions throughout the capital at peak hours.

Superintendent Robert Revill from the Metropolitan Police's Safer Transport Command said: “The aim of Operation Safeway is to reduce the number of people who die or are injured on London's roads each year.

“Every road death is a needless tragedy that is devastating for the victim’s friends and family. Every serious injury is life-changing and distressing.

“These targeted operations began last year and have been hugely effective at raising awareness of road safety among motorists and cyclists, providing a balanced operation which reminds everyone of their duty to take care of each other while out on the roads.”

Officers have also continued to run Exchanging Places which enable vulnerable road users, and especially cyclists, to get the view from the driver’s seat in a lorry to help understand what the driver can and cannot see.

Police say that according to feedback from 14,000 people who have participated in the scheme, 97 per cent said they would 97 per cent change their riding after taking part in it, and 99 per cent said they would recommend it to others.

Operation Safeway was launched in November last year following the deaths of six cyclists on the capital’s streets in the space of a fortnight.

Described as by London’s cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan as “a short term measure” when it was first unveiled, it was intended to target both motorists and cyclists who flouted the rules of the road.

However, it came under criticism after it emerged that riders were being stopped for issues such as not wearing a cycle helmet or high-visibility clothing, neither of which is a legal requirement.

The initial six weeks of the operation saw nearly 14,000 road users fined or summonsed, one in three of them cyclists.

However, the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) pointed out in May that less than 0.01 per cent of those fixed penalty notices or summonses related to the three types of careless driving most likely to injure cyclists – turning across their path, overtaking them too closely, or opening a vehicle’s door into their path.

Just 87 drivers were censured for those offences, and LCC’s chief executive, Ashok Sinha, said at the time: “We can all be careless if we don’t make an effort not to be, but when we’re driving such carelessness can kill – that’s why it’s a crime, and the law should be enforced.

“We welcome more traffic police on our streets, but they must use their powers to tackle carelessness, which is the biggest single factor in the deaths and injuries of thousands of cyclists in London every year,” he added.

No breakdown of the offences for which fines were issued in the latest phase of the operation have been released, nor have police issued a split between the numbers of cyclists and other road users who have been fined.

Last month figures obtained by the London Evening Standard revealed that cyclists in London had been fined a total of more than £1 million for a variety of offences since the start of 2013.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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