A new 'Cycling Discretionary Scheme' could be introduced in Cambridge which would see dangerous cyclists offered an online training course rather than a fine. The course would be available to those caught riding without lights at night, jumping red lights or riding on pavements.
As with speed awareness courses for drivers, cyclists would only be offered the course once within a certain time period. The Cambridge News reports that the scheme has come about partly due to the number of foreign students in the city, many of whom may not know the rules of the road.
Finola Carey, casualty reduction officer for the Cambridgeshire force, said that a national cyclists diversionary course could be ready by October.
"The main objective of this course will be to provide education, to change cycling behaviour and ultimately to reduce casualties on the road and to enable all road users to share the roads safely together.
"The course is more than likely going to be an online one which will take around an hour to complete. There will be a charge for cyclists to undertake this course instead of them paying the offence fine and cyclists would only be offered this course once within a certain time period.
"The sorts of offences it would cover would be for example cycling with no lights, contravening traffic signs and road markings and cycling on footways. Cambridgeshire Constabulary, along with Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire police forces, will be exploring the viability of being able to offer this course once the national product has been developed."
Cambridge police have an annual crackdown on those cycling without lights as the nights draw in with over 300 cyclists fined this year. Also, in October, Police Community Support Officers spent two days targeting what they described as “inconsiderate” cyclists on Hills Road, stopping 43 cyclists who had jumped red lights.
In all, 740 fines were handed out to Cambridge cyclists in 2013 against just 131 in 2011 as police increasingly crack down on dangerous behaviour.
Sergeant Ian Wood of the city's neighbourhood policing team said he was sure that Cambridge would benefit from the scheme.
"Cambridge is synonymous with cycling – with statistics suggesting that over 40 per cent of residents cycle more than three times a week. We have seen that the diversionary courses for motorists have been well received – and I hope that the forthcoming scheme for cyclists will be equally effective.
"These diversionary schemes are focused on educating road users, rather than being overly-punitive however, they are only offered under stringent circumstances. Similarly, as the system is now more automated we are able to highlight repeat offenders and hold them to account in a bid to improve road safety across the city. Personally, I wholeheartedly welcome this scheme."