Zero tolerance for people cycling -
zero enforcement for cycle facilities?
Cyclists - welcome in the City of London?
London Cycle Network route 7 from Enfield via Finsbury Park stops abruptly on the edge of the City. Members of the City of London Police's Cycle Patrol Unit wait for cyclists entering the City behind the now infamous "ransom strip", an extension of the ring of steel security cordon, and pounce with their demands for £30 fines. Behind it lies a 20m section of the West Smithfield rotunda that is now one-way for motor traffic as well as cycles, despite the fact that cycles aren't, as far as we know, a terrorist threat. As the streets themselves are dead-ends for motor traffic the only possible point of conflict is the cycle gap (yellow bollards in the photo) which is placed dangerously close to entrance to St Bart's Hospital.
There are many far busier locations in the City where road users, including cyclists, engage in conduct which should face the full force of the law (particularly ploughing through pedestrians crossing during the 'green man' phase), where the law could be fairly applied and actually result in a reduction of collisions and near-misses. So why are there often three police spending their time at this sleepy backwater?
City Police issue more Fixed Penalty Notices to cyclists than any other police force despite being the smallest. But they have never prosecuted or issued any FPNs to drivers obstructing cycle lanes or Advandced Stop Lines. Senior police say it's simply up to the discretion of the officer at the scene. We say their discretion is in fact discrimination and it seems they're going for 'easy pickings' to reach their targets for fining cyclists. Many cyclists were pleased to see City Police get back on their bikes but now these feelings have changed dramatically as the new units' main task is to harrass cyclists.
One law for us - one law for them. City Police regularly double park on Wood Street illegally, blocking the main cycle route through the City.
It's not that cyclists have become less lawful in the last generation, it's that there are a lot more traffic signals and one-way streets put in to deal with the problems of large volumes of motor traffic but which are a real problem for safe and convenient cycling. Earlier last century there were many more cyclists and pedestrians on the streets who coexisted happily. See our campaign One-way? No way!.
City Cyclists support the fining cyclists who while failing to obey traffic signs etc., put pedestrians in fear of a collision, cause drivers to take action to avoid crashes, or worse. Otherwise a verbal warning is sufficient for a technical breach of the law. With the limited traffic policing resources available it would make sense to dedicate more of them to deal with offences committed by drivers which cause far more serious problems.
It is also sensible to offer a "caution plus" to all such offenders first time round where offenders would have to undertake training or road user awareness, which are infinitely more effective in changing behaviour than a financial penalty. At the same time the road network should to be adapted so that the legitimate needs of cyclists are considered alongside those of drivers and pedestrians.
Injustice at the home of British justice
Within sight of the Old Bailey is a gap and track for pedal cycles through a ring of steel exit point. However to access it you have to dismount and carry your bike for one metre or disobey the no left turn sign - the same offence (contrary to section 36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988) as failing to obey a traffic light or one-way sign and with the same £30 penalty. It's also a short cut to Snow Hill Police Station...
Working in partnership?
City Cyclists have attended public consultation meetings and been in regular contact with the City Police. However despite the glossy brochures and slick PR, the City Police don't even tell us in advance about events such as the cycle security roadshow, despite the fact we could publicise such events amongst hundreds of local cyclists. As for actually taking account of the problems faced daily in the City by those who cycle, everyone from the Commissioner downwards seems unable to listen let alone do anything. Considering more cyclists are killed on the City's roads than people are murdered, their priorities are muddled to say the least.
City Cyclists would still like to work with the City Police.
- Designing and distributing a leaflet (click here for an example from Canada) to encourage cyclists and drivers to respect and use properly Advanced Stop Lines
- Tackling cycle theft by encouraging all theft from cycles to be recorded using an easy on-line form (only about 10% is officially recorded at present)
- Dealing with cycles without lights at night or other defects making them not road worthy - by requiring cyclists to visit a police station with the same bike fixed or face prosecution
- Fining those who cycle through pedestrians on crossings during the green man, on the pavement or who put other people in immediate danger.
- Pressurising the Corporation to sort out its signs so that they are consistent and cyclist exempted from unnecessary one-ways etc.
Illegal cycle route
City Cyclists spent two years of campaigning to get the proper signs put in to make the straight on movement for cycles legal along the cycle bypass of the Aldgate Gyratory. If the police had helped us, the Corporation would have sorted it out within weeks.