The number of fines issued for ‘antisocial’ cycling offences like jumping red lights or pavement cycling has dropped by almost two thirds in five years.
Penalty notices handed to riders have fallen sharply despite an increase in cyclist numbers.
The fixed fines (FPNs) of £50 can be given by police for offences including ignoring traffic signals, a second person on a bike, failing to have lights after dark or riding on the pavement.
But some police forces did not issue a single FPN last year.
Research by the Times found that Cambridgeshire constabulary saw the number of fines issued to cyclists drop from 739 in 2012 to 49 last year.
Humberside saw a similar drop - from 482 five years ago to 13 last year.
Two police forces — South Yorkshire and Warwickshire — failed to issue a single penalty last year.
The Times obtained figures under the Freedom of Information Act from 34 out of 45 police forces in the UK. It showed that 11,289 fixed penalties were issued in 2012, rising to 15,297 a year later. The rise corresponded with a crackdown by the Metropolitan Police.
However, numbers fell to 8,893 the following year and again to 5,024 in 2015. Last year 3,590 were issued — down by a quarter in 12 months or more than two thirds in five years.
A spokesman for Cycling UK said: “We would far prefer to see the police targeting those crimes which result in deaths or serious injury.”
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire constabulary added: “We have to deploy officers in a way that tackles these areas most effectively. So we may have taken officers away from proactively tackling cycling offences to dealing with [other] crimes.”
Essex Police said: “Decisions on proportionate responses to offending on our roads are made after consideration is given to the level of harm offences could have on victims. Catching and bringing to justice those who commit offences which could result in life-changing or fatal consequences, such as drink and drug driving, will always be one of our highest priorities.”
At the end of last year we reported how council officers at Peterborough City Council backed down on threats to hand out fixed penalty notices to cyclists in Bridge Street, after discovering only police officers can enforce the law.
Council leader Councillor John Holdich had said that all council staff would have the power to give out the fines to cyclists in the pedestrian area, but as it is in fact a road traffic offence, they do not have the power to do so.
The council is now attempting to have the rules changed.
A council spokesman said: “Initially, only warranted police officers within the PES [Prevention and Enforcement Service] will have the power to fine cyclists on Bridge Street and will work alongside council officers.
“This is because cycling on Bridge Street is currently classified as a road traffic offence. The process is well underway to change this order to allow any PES officer to enforce the cycling ban on Bridge Street.”
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.