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Cyclist fines down in Manchester - but campaigners say poor infrastructure gives no choice but to flout rules

Cyclists are complaining of 'being picked on and singled out' admit police...

Police in Greater Manchester say that fixed penalties for cyclists flouting road laws have dropped by 18%, with 90% of those issued at the time of a major operation to encourage consideration on the roads.

Figures obtained by Mancunian Matters through an FOI request to Greater Manchester Police show 121 fines were issued from June-December 2014 compared to 147 the previous six months.

The top two penalties were for ‘cycling on the pavement’ and ‘contravening traffic sign/road sign markings’.

In October last year we reported how GMP had launched Operation Considerate, beginning with two events geared towards raising awareness of the rules around advanced stop lines (ASLs) at traffic lights.

ASLs provide an area for cyclists to wait in front of traffic when the lights are red, ensuring they are more easily visible to motorists and have space to move off when the lights turn green. Drivers shouldn’t enter ASL boxes when the lights are on red – although if the traffic light changes from green to amber and they cannot safely stop before the first line, they may cross it, but must then stop before the second line.

Explaining the philosophy behind Operation Considerate, Greater Manchester’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Jim Battle said:

“Everyone has a right to feel safe on the road – pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. We all share the road and we all need to obey the rules that help us get safely from A to B.

“Advanced stop lines provide an area of high visibility for cyclists and visibility is critical to cycling safety. GMP will be urging motorists to obey the rules of ASLs and reminding cyclists to maximise their visibility using bike lights and bright clothing – especially now the nights are getting darker.”

Cyclists who were caught under Operation Considerate were given the option of attending a cycling safety course or paying a £50 fine.

Inspector Paul Rowe of the GMP said: “It is fair to say that various groups from the cycling community contacted the Police Senior Leaders Team feeling that they were being picked on and singled out, even though motorists were prosecuted for offences.

“Those involving cyclists were able to attend an ‘Operation Considerate’ training session, where the aim would be to educate all road users to be considerate to each other.

“The operation commenced with two weeks of engagement and education with all road users and then two weeks of enforcement.”

He added: “We, and a number of other forces, are looking to a national online course for cycling offenders but unfortunately this will not be free."

Operation Considerate overtook the unpopular Operation Grimaldi in Manchester, in which hundreds of cyclists in Manchester were issued £80 fines for “dangerous and irresponsible” cycling on the city’s Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road.

In just ten days of activity in 2013 officers issued 415 fixed penalty notices for a range of offences including riding through red traffic lights or on the pavement, using a mobile phone while riding, and riding without lights.

Cyclists issued with the fixed penalty notices were also then given the opportunity to avoid paying fines by attending cycling awareness courses.

Traffic PCSO Gareth Walker commented: “The aim of the operation was not to fine all offenders but to educate them, offer training and promote road safety.

“Many of the cyclists we spoke to were not aware of the danger they put themselves and others in by the actions they were taking while failing to stop or being distracted on their phones.

“The number of killed or seriously injured on the roads has fallen over the last two years but we need to continue to educate road users of how to share the roads safely in order to ensure these numbers continue to fall.”

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