The Met Police’s Cycle Task Force has been given a boost with the arrival of ten new members, to help improve the safety of cyclists and to crack down on rule-breaking road users.
As we reported at the time, the squad was launched three months ago with 30 officers focused on tackling bike theft and vandalism in London.
The ten new arrivals are all specialist traffic officers, whose brief is to build on a six-week operation this summer that targeted road users who break the rules of the road.
Intriguingly, one area of focus for the team was cracking down on road users who used their mobile phones on the pilot Barclay’s Cycle Superhighways. It’s not clear whether these road users were just motorists or cyclists too – and, if the latter, whether anyone has thought to warn Boris Johnson, who has famously defended the practice in print.
In his A-Z of Dos & Don’ts of cycling in London, the mayor wrote: “P is for Phone: I see no reason why you should not treat your bike as your office. Provided you hug the kerb, as St Paul’s ship hugged the coast of the Mediterranean, you should be entitled to make telephone calls. It is probably safer to use a hands-free gizmo, but to all those who want to ban the use of mobile phones on bikes, I say this: are we so cruel and discriminatory as to forbid them from using a bicycle? We are not. What is a mobile phone user but a cyclist who has, effectively, only one arm? I rest my case.”
When we called Transport for London they weren't able to tell us whether or not any cyclists had been stopped during the six-week trial for using a mobile while cycling. "We don't have that data," said a spokeswoman. Carefully treading the fine line between disagreeing with Boris and remaining loyal to him, she added, "It is not illegal to use a mobile while on your bike but if you cycle carelessly because it's distracting you then the police might very well stop you, so it's probably something to be avoided."
Since its launch in June, the Cycle Task Force have security marked nearly 5,000 bikes, made nearly 20 arrests for bike theft and reunited some Londoners with their stolen bikes.
Transport for London says this summer’s crack down on rule-breakers resulted in:
Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s Transport Advisor, said: “The Cycle Task Force is a fundamental part of the cycling revolution the Mayor has delivered in London and has proven to be hugely effective. This task force, through both education and enforcement, has already helped thousands of London’s cyclists, by catching bike thieves, security marking bicycles and reuniting people with their stolen bikes. The real success of this team is that it is helping both cyclists and those Londoners who do not cycle by ensuring that there is better behaviour on our streets by all road users.
“However there is always more that can be done to make London the best cycling city in the world and these additional officers should reassure everyone who cycles in the Capital that making London safe and secure remains our focus.”