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Police stop 100s of law-abiding cyclists in 'safety' drive - after saying they don't have manpower to investigate close passes

Almost 500 riders stopped in Hampshire operation, with 34 fined as operation met by social media backlash

Road traffic officers from Hampshire Police have stopped hundreds of cyclists in the past week in a road safety drive – even though they had done nothing wrong. Earlier this year, the same force told a cyclist it had insufficient resources to take action against a motorist filmed making a close pass on him.

Under its Be Bright Be Seen campaign, Hampshire Police has not only been fining cyclists riding illegally without lights – at least 34 to date – but has also stopped nearly 450 others who were doing nothing wrong to offer them safety advice and distribute high-visibility gear.

According to the Twitter feed of Hampshire Roads Policing, last week in Southampton, 130 riders were stopped, with four fined for having no lights. In Basingstoke, 100 were stopped, with five fined. And in Portsmouth, officers stopped 250 riders, of whom 25 received fines.

The initiative was strongly criticised by many on social media, however, with Twitter user @BezTweets highlighting  a letter received by a cyclist from Hampshire Police earlier this year explaining why the force had not taken action on a video of a close pass that he had submitted to them.

Whitchurch close pass letter.jpg

 The footage was shot on Bell Street, Whitchurch, by Mike Stead just after 2pm on the afternoon of 18 January, but following an exchange of telephone calls and correspondence with Hampshire Police, he was told that the force had insufficent resources to investigate such cases unless they met the legal definition of 'dangerous driving,' and that they "had to prioritise incidents which involve injuries or fatalities." 

Contrasting his experience with the operation the force has launched in recent days, Mr Stead told road.cc: "My experience is that Hants Police have no budget to take road policing seriously.

“Therefore their idea of making cyclists 'safer' is to get a few cops out on a commuter run for a few hours, get some trite photos snapped, hand out a few FPN's, and job done, box ticked.”

He added that he believes there is “No chance of changing the culture where the driver of 1500kg of steel moving at 30+MPH gives a person on a bike mere inches of 'space'.

“They know they won't be caught, there won't be any investigation, and no consequences.

“Therefore people on bikes will continue to be maimed or killed, while cops hand out tickets to the survivors for trivial, beaten-up 'offences'."

Speaking about its Be Bright Be Seen campaign last week, Sergeant Rob Heard of Hampshire Police said: “During this week we will be speaking to cyclists and other road users about safe riding and driving tips and about sharing the road together for the safety of all.

“Cycling is a great way to keep fit and healthy, however cyclists are one of our vulnerable road users and when they are involved in a collision the injuries can be serious.

“As the light reduces and visibility diminishes it is always good idea for all road users to be bright and as visible as they can.

“Despite the dangers, some cyclists take the risk of riding without lights, which as well as being illegal, increases their risk of being involved in a collision.

He added: "We hope that this week of action will remind both cyclists and motorists that a little extra consideration of each other will make our roads safer for everyone."

The force’s approach is a stark contrast however from that adopted by road traffic police in the West Midlands, who in a widely-praised initiative are targeting and prosecuting motorists making close passes on cyclists, deploying plain clothes officers on bikes as well as using footage shot by cyclists.

> West Midlands police target close pass drivers

When the initiative was launched in September, receiving national media attention, West Midlands Police Road Traffic Unit said in a blog post that since cyclists were not to blame in most collisions that resulted in death or serious injury of a rider, “it would be a waste of our time, and thus public time and money to concentrate on cyclist behaviour. The figures speak for themselves ... drivers don’t let your prejudices get in the way of the truth…”

On the subject of high-visibility clothing, they said: “Don’t think hi viz clothing will keep you seen, although hi viz has a place in some circumstances such as low light conditions, it is contrast that catches the attention of the driver who might pull out on you, that, and movements the human eye and brain are wired to detect.”

Police in the London Borough of Camden and in North Wales have said that they will follow the approach adopted by their colleagues in the West Midlands, with other forces also studying the initiative.

Simon joined road.cc 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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60 comments

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beezus fufoon | 7 years ago
1 like

the police letter clearly says that they did not pursue the video footage because it was very obvious that nothing happened to the cyclist who became hysterical at a car giving him only a metre instead of two...

the letter was clearly a polite way of telling him to toughen up and stop whining, go do something more useful with your camera like filming two dogs shagging and post that on youtube!

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brooksby replied to beezus fufoon | 7 years ago
1 like

beezus fufoon wrote:

the police letter clearly says that they did not pursue the video footage because it was very obvious that nothing happened to the cyclist who became hysterical at a car giving him only a metre instead of two...

the letter was clearly a polite way of telling him to toughen up and stop whining, go do something more useful with your camera like filming two dogs shagging and post that on youtube!

Oh I see: so the police only do anything if something actually happened? Doesn't bode well for any proposed close-pass legislation, does it. Does that apply to other road traffic offences? Speeding? Well, they didn't hit anyone so that's fine. Mobile phone use? Ditto.

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beezus fufoon replied to brooksby | 7 years ago
0 likes

brooksby wrote:

beezus fufoon wrote:

the police letter clearly says that they did not pursue the video footage because it was very obvious that nothing happened to the cyclist who became hysterical at a car giving him only a metre instead of two...

the letter was clearly a polite way of telling him to toughen up and stop whining, go do something more useful with your camera like filming two dogs shagging and post that on youtube!

Oh I see: so the police only do anything if something actually happened? Doesn't bode well for any proposed close-pass legislation, does it. Does that apply to other road traffic offences? Speeding? Well, they didn't hit anyone so that's fine. Mobile phone use? Ditto.

well, in my experience with riding on English roads (mainly due to the lack of space and the poor judgement of many road users - drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians - rather than any malice), this happens quite frequently and it would defeat the object for me to ride a bike in the first place...

what would it look like if I had to stop every 5 minutes to shake my fist at a driver, blow my top, call the old bill and fill out a complaint form? It would turn a 60 minute ride into a full day's work...

on top of that, as SuperPython59 points out - what do you expect from the police anyway?

I certainly would not wish to go to court 10 to 20 times to argue over half a metre, just from a 60 minute ride!

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KiwiMike replied to beezus fufoon | 7 years ago
1 like

beezus fufoon wrote:

the police letter clearly says that they did not pursue the video footage because it was very obvious that nothing happened to the cyclist who became hysterical at a car giving him only a metre instead of two...

the letter was clearly a polite way of telling him to toughen up and stop whining, go do something more useful with your camera like filming two dogs shagging and post that on youtube!

 

I wasn't hysterical. I was angry that had I not moved aside at the last second, the driver would have wiped me out at 30MPH. I have a wife and three kids. 

This is a polite way of telling you that your attitude to vulnerable road users is utter shite. Delete your account.

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Ush | 7 years ago
2 likes

As this particular police force is obviously understaffed and reeling from budget cuts it may become more necessary for concerned citizens to help them out by tackling the problems of illegal parking on the pavement.  Something like this Russian model perhaps?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aO1t8RxgiMc

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ianrobo | 7 years ago
2 likes

Hants police are a disgrace but with a quote from WMP on here lets see what a good police force does 

 

CMPG - Road Policing  @Trafficwmp
7m

#OpClosePass results today,14 drivers given immediate educational input, 3 reported for due care, 4 phone offences 10 other #fatal4 offences

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tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
1 like

Hmm. Still not sure if I have to stop if the police wave me down when I'm on the bike, if I know I'm not doing anything wrong. 

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fukawitribe replied to tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
2 likes

unconstituted wrote:

Hmm. Still not sure if I have to stop if the police wave me down when I'm on the bike, if I know I'm not doing anything wrong. 

If you're on the road, yes you do have to stop otherwise you are committing an offence.

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tritecommentbot replied to fukawitribe | 7 years ago
2 likes

fukawitribe wrote:

unconstituted wrote:

Hmm. Still not sure if I have to stop if the police wave me down when I'm on the bike, if I know I'm not doing anything wrong. 

If you're on the road, yes you do have to stop otherwise you are committing an offence.

 

Balls surprise

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Grumpy17 replied to fukawitribe | 7 years ago
1 like

fukawitribe wrote:

unconstituted wrote:

Hmm. Still not sure if I have to stop if the police wave me down when I'm on the bike, if I know I'm not doing anything wrong. 

If you're on the road, yes you do have to stop otherwise you are committing an offence.

 

You have to stop but it does not say you have to stay stopped or humour them with polite conversation. The legislation was not made so that the police could stop and detain anybody they like on a bike. The spirit of it is so that they can exercise control of traffic on the roads, not interfere with people's civil liberties.

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fukawitribe replied to Grumpy17 | 7 years ago
0 likes

Grumpy17 wrote:

fukawitribe wrote:

unconstituted wrote:

Hmm. Still not sure if I have to stop if the police wave me down when I'm on the bike, if I know I'm not doing anything wrong. 

If you're on the road, yes you do have to stop otherwise you are committing an offence.

 

You have to stop but it does not say you have to stay stopped or humour them with polite conversation. The legislation was not made so that the police could stop and detain anybody they like on a bike. The spirit of it is so that they can exercise control of traffic on the roads, not interfere with people's civil liberties.

I highly doubt it's that binary or that 'spirit' had much to do with it's inception.

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Rigobear | 7 years ago
2 likes

Will they start stopping motorists with headlights out? I believe this is also illegal (correct me if I am wrong).

I see at least one to five per day with either a head or tail light out.

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peted76 | 7 years ago
0 likes

Walking through leafy Leamington town on Tuesday night... deliveroo bikes everywhere, maybe half of them had no front light. Some no lights, some just a rear one. Helmets from all walks of life. 

As a driver, it annoys me, there is no doubt it's hard to see cyclists in low light or in the dark, as a cyclist I believe it's down to us to edumacate our tribe. However saying that I don't believe that 'deliveroo' cyclists are of our tribe. They are mostly maruaders passing through, here to give us a bad name, probably get us some uncomfortable laws or restrictions in place and then move on to driving once Uni's over.

 

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to peted76 | 7 years ago
4 likes
peted76 wrote:

Walking through leafy Leamington town on Tuesday night... deliveroo bikes everywhere, maybe half of them had no front light. Some no lights, some just a rear one. Helmets from all walks of life. 

As a driver, it annoys me, there is no doubt it's hard to see cyclists in low light or in the dark, as a cyclist I believe it's down to us to edumacate our tribe. However saying that I don't believe that 'deliveroo' cyclists are of our tribe. They are mostly maruaders passing through, here to give us a bad name, probably get us some uncomfortable laws or restrictions in place and then move on to driving once Uni's over.

 

I don't believe there _is_ a 'tribe'. Just random people who happen to be using a bike at any particular moment.
As an internet poster, do you feel obliged to educate everyone who decides to post on the internet on any site for any purpose, lest they give you a bad name?

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Guanajuato | 7 years ago
4 likes

Wonder if they're handing out long dresses to women in min skirts too.

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j@n | 7 years ago
2 likes

I have very little time for Hampshire constabulary. I've reported two seperate cases of harrasment by particular motorists, with video footage, and they couldn't be bothered. I've since had to change my commuting route to country roads, as I do not feel safe on the main roads and got sick of the abuse everyday.

I would welcome to police to pull me over, and have a "discussion" about road safety.

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TriTaxMan | 7 years ago
0 likes

I think the actions of the police are a bit questionable, but only in so far as they were stopping people who had done nothing wrong.

It does my head in when I come accross cyclists who don't have lights on, both on cycle paths and on roads, because they are not only a danger to themselves they are a danger to me and other cyclists/pedestrians/road users.  Cyclists like them give the rest of us a bad name.

On the flip side.... 1 in 10 people being issued with FPN's in Portsmouth, thats a pretty large percentage of cyclists disregarding the laws.  What do you think as a group cyclists would say if 1 in 10 car drivers were driving without lights?  Or 1 in 10 drivers were driving whilst on their mobile phones?  we would be outraged.  Just saying

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. . replied to TriTaxMan | 7 years ago
2 likes

craigstitt wrote:

On the flip side.... 1 in 10 people being issued with FPN's in Portsmouth, thats a pretty large percentage of cyclists disregarding the laws.

It was 10% of the ones they stopped.  We don't know how many they didn't stop.

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congokid replied to TriTaxMan | 7 years ago
4 likes

craigstitt wrote:

Cyclists like them give the rest of us a bad name.

Only in the tiny minds of those who assign collective responsibility for the behaviour of an individual to others using the same mode of transport. When you drive do you shoulder the blame for others' bad driving?

craigstitt wrote:

1 in 10 people being issued with FPN's in Portsmouth, thats a pretty large percentage of cyclists disregarding the laws.  What do you think as a group cyclists would say if 1 in 10 car drivers were driving without lights?  Or 1 in 10 drivers were driving whilst on their mobile phones?  we would be outraged

We should be, because they do.

Around 216,000 of London's 3.9 million drivers are on the road without insurance. That's a high level of criminality among people operating potentially lethal machinery in public spaces. The lack of insurance also suggests a tendency toward other law breaking activities such as illegal vehicles, unpaid VED, driving under the influence of drink/drugs, etc.

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wycombewheeler replied to congokid | 7 years ago
1 like
congokid wrote:

craigstitt wrote:

Cyclists like them give the rest of us a bad name.

Only in the tiny minds of those who assign collective responsibility for the behaviour of an individual to others using the same mode of transport. When you drive do you shoulder the blame for others' bad driving?

craigstitt wrote:

1 in 10 people being issued with FPN's in Portsmouth, thats a pretty large percentage of cyclists disregarding the laws.  What do you think as a group cyclists would say if 1 in 10 car drivers were driving without lights?  Or 1 in 10 drivers were driving whilst on their mobile phones?  we would be outraged

We should be, because they do.

Around 216,000 of London's 3.9 million drivers are on the road without insurance. That's a high level of criminality among people operating potentially lethal machinery in public spaces. The lack of insurance also suggests a tendency toward other law breaking activities such as illegal vehicles, unpaid VED, driving under the influence of drink/drugs, etc.

Perhas this problem could be a dressed by making them carry some sort of identification plate. :p

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IanW1968 | 7 years ago
3 likes

In a lifetime of cycling the worst incidents I've experienced have been deliberate acts.

Hi Viz just serves to make you a more visible target. 

The problem as we know is ignorance and bigotry.

So despite all the logical reasons to increase non motorised traffic most people including the police(who are also a bit thick ime) judiciary, councillors, cps etc love their cars and see anyone on a bike as a nuisance. 

Strong leadership is needed but we keeping voting for tories who are sponsored by car manufacturers, financiers, insurers, oil suppliers, road haulage firms etc so it wont happen.  

Best hope was EU legislation but thats unlikely now. 

 

 

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wycombewheeler replied to IanW1968 | 7 years ago
2 likes
IanW1968 wrote:

In a lifetime of cycling the worst incidents I've experienced have been deliberate acts.

Hi Viz just serves to make you a more visible target. 

The problem as we know is ignorance and bigotry.

So despite all the logical reasons to increase non motorised traffic most people including the police(who are also a bit thick ime) judiciary, councillors, cps etc love their cars and see anyone on a bike as a nuisance. 

Strong leadership is needed but we keeping voting for tories who are sponsored by car manufacturers, financiers, insurers, oil suppliers, road haulage firms etc so it wont happen.  

Best hope was EU legislation but thats unlikely now. 

 

 

I'm sure london cyclists are rejoicing that Khan has taken over from Johnson.

Also councils of all colours have a poor record on implementing cycle provision. Mainly from fear of losing votes from the moton masses.

Why is this always turned into a party political issue, when it simply isn't.

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ianrobo replied to wycombewheeler | 7 years ago
0 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:

Why is this always turned into a party political issue, when it simply isn't.

it is because the drive has to come from the top, they set the laws, they set the parameters and they set the cash available.

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RPK | 7 years ago
1 like

Well, you know "people don't like cyclists" so this should come as no surprise.

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bike.brain | 7 years ago
5 likes

Surrey Police also useless at prosecuting.  Decided that close pass, squeeze and then nudge of my front wheel wasn't grounds for a conviction depite high resolution video evidence.  Have a look at;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4fLYhcF_2Q&feature=youtu.be

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HarrogateSpa | 7 years ago
3 likes

It's a load of victim-blaming nonsense and will do nothing for safety. They do it because it's the lazy option, I imagine: people on bikes can't go as fast as cars, so they're easier to stop, and the police need less space to stock the cyclists they've stopped.

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Awavey | 7 years ago
3 likes

Could be worse, the Norfolk PCCs response to a rise in cyclist deaths on the roads, is to demand a new helmet compulsion law !?

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/politics/rise_in_cyclists_killed_and_serious...

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muhasib | 7 years ago
2 likes

Does s.163 (2) of the 1988 Road Traffic Act still apply? That does state you must stop 'on being required to do so by a constable in uniform' and now also 'or a traffic officer' as added by the 2004 Traffic Management Act which appears to cover Highways Agency employees.

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wycombewheeler replied to muhasib | 7 years ago
2 likes
muhasib wrote:

Does s.163 (2) of the 1988 Road Traffic Act still apply? That does state you must stop 'on being required to do so by a constable in uniform' and now also 'or a traffic officer' as added by the 2004 Traffic Management Act which appears to cover Highways Agency employees.

Yes
JUST looked it up 163 (1) covers mechanically propelled vehicles 163 (2) covers cycles. pedestrians and horses would appear to be free to ignore police.

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Grumpy17 replied to wycombewheeler | 7 years ago
0 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:
muhasib wrote:

Does s.163 (2) of the 1988 Road Traffic Act still apply? That does state you must stop 'on being required to do so by a constable in uniform' and now also 'or a traffic officer' as added by the 2004 Traffic Management Act which appears to cover Highways Agency employees.

Yes JUST looked it up 163 (1) covers mechanically propelled vehicles 163 (2) covers cycles. pedestrians and horses would appear to be free to ignore police.

This would only cover situations where they need to stop traffic because of an accident or some obstruction or danger or for traffic control purposes.

The legislation doesn't mean they can stop anyone they like for no valid reason  and subject them to a lecture or cross examination  about the roadworthiness of their bicycle.Obviously you should stop but they can't then keep you from immediately getting on your way again.

As  DrJDog  correctly stated earlier...

 

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