London police stopping cyclists without helmets in "advice & education" exercise

HGV drivers also being stopped in Road Safety Week project

Met Police stopping unhelmetted cyclists to provide “advice and education”

As part of Road Safety Week, the Metropolitan Police is stopping cyclists and lorry drivers in three locations in central, east and south London to offer “education and advice” to cyclists who are seen riding dangerously. Conrtoversially, the police are also stopping cyctlists who are not wearing helmets.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard told road.cc that cyclists were being stopped “where there are concerns about their behaviour - for instance cutting corners, performing other dangerous manoeuvres or wearing headphones while riding.”

He also acknowledged that officers were stopping riders who were not wearing helmets. While there is no legal requirement to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle in the UK, the spokesman said: “If you want to be safe it’s a very good idea to put one on.” That’s an opinion that some in the cycling community might perhaps take issue with.

London Assembly member Jenny Jones told road.cc she had contacted the Met and a superintendent had agreed that helmets and high vis are not required by law.

Baroness Jones said: "The Met’s ‘advice’ on cyclists wearing a helmet and high vis is not based on any scientific research. As an informed cyclist I ride my bike without either. Their efforts would be better focussed on enforcing the laws we have, for example on not driving vehicles while using a mobile, not driving a vehicle into ASLs when the lights are red, which would make our roads much safer. 

"Clearing our roads of illegal and dangerous drivers has to be the priority, not hassling cyclists who are obeying the law."

Scotland Yard said that the intention was not enforcement and when asked if, for example, a cyclist riding through a red light would be issued a fixed penalty notice, said that no fixed penalty notices had been issued to cyclists. “It’s about advice and education rather than cracking down,” said the spokesman.

A total of 45 officers are involved in the operation, and police are also stopping lorry drivers. Their vehicles have been checked for any issues and in one instance a lorry was found to have a dangerously over-inflated tyre that left it unfit to continue its journey.

According to LBC, police at one location have stopped 20 HGVs and found a total of 60 offences, including vehicles in dangerous condition and drivers who had been working too long. 

Chief-Superintendent Glyn Jones, who is in charge of the operation, told LBC: "If you're going to cycle in London, wear a helmet, wear high-vis, make sure your bike has the right lights, don't wear headphones and obey the rules of the road.

"That way you will be a lot safer."

In a ten-day period to last Thursday, five cyclists were killed in collisions with large vehicles on London's roads. It is not known how many of them were wearing helmets or whether their riding was a factor in the crashes.

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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