Police in London have today launched the next phase of their Operation Safeway road safety campaign after a threefold rise in deaths on the city’s streets in the opening weeks of 2015 compared to the start of last year.
According to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), 29 people have lost their lives on London’s streets – three of them cyclists – since the start of the year, against 10 in the comparable period of 2014.
From this morning, more than 600 officers belonging to the Roads and Transport Policing Command (RTPC), set up by Mayor of London Boris Johnson last month, will be deployed at key junctions throughout the city.
In an operation scheduled to last six weeks, they will target motorists and cyclists, with a “specific focus on mobile phone usage whilst driving, speeding, failure to wear seat belts, red light violation, failure to comply with advanced stop lines, vehicle defects and no insurance.”
Superintendent Robert Revill of the RTPC said: “As an organisation we are committed to road safety and must do everything in our power to influence road user behaviour to prevent people being killed or seriously injured on the roads.
“Every road death or serious injury is a needless tragedy that is devastating for the victim's family and friends. We must reverse this trend which is why over the next six weeks we will be focusing heavily on road safety.”
He added: “All road users have a responsibility for road safety and it is essential that everyone takes every step they can to keep themselves and others safe on the roads."
Launched by the MPS and Transport for London (TfL) in late 2013 after six London cyclists were killed in a fortnight on the capital’s streets, Operation Safeway has seen officers undertake spot checks on lorries in locations such as Vauxhall Bridge.
But the initiative has also come under criticism from cycling campaigners for issues such as officers stopping bike riders and telling them they should be wearing a cycle helmet or high-visibility clothing, neither of which are required under the Highway Code.
TfL’s director of enforcement and on-street operations, Steve Burton, said: "We care about every journey made in the capital, and are committed to working alongside our policing partners and other agencies to improve road safety.
"This phase of Operation Safeway highlights the benefits of the MPS RTPC - a highly skilled, flexible Command of over 2,300 officers who can be quickly mobilised to meet the policing needs of London's road and surface transport network.
“We fully support this phase of Operation Safeway, which focuses on balanced enforcement tackling risk and danger alongside education on the rules of the roads, to help make London's busy streets a safer environment for everybody," he added.
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.