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Cyclists dismount, and drivers get out and push. Photo: ned the head via Flickr.com
Cyclists dismount, and drivers get out and push. Photo: ned the head via Flickr.com
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Metropolitan Police - stop persecuting cyclists!

Donnachadh McCarthy

15th January 2014

London's Metropolitan Police have responded to a spate of cycling deaths by ... persecuting cyclists for cycling on pavements in order to avoid 'death junctions'. Donnachadh McCarthy wrote this Open Letter ...

The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic, and who show consideration to other pavement users.

Sir Hugh Orde
President ACPO
10 Victoria Street
London W1

14th January 2014

Dear Sir Hugh Orde,

Re: Ministerial Guidance on Pavement Cycling

Following the recent tragic spate of cycling deaths in London, the Metropolitan Police launched Operation Safeway. This included the targeting of cyclists for pavement cycling.

When we asked officers if they were applying the Ministerial Guidance on the issuing of tickets, they said they had been instructed to ignore the Guidance and fine offenders to the letter of the law.

This we believe is endangering cyclists' lives by forcing them off empty pavements or left-hand-turns such as the terrifying Vauxhall Cross and back into the line of lethal HGVs whose drivers are blind to adjacent road-users.

We sought a meeting with the Metropolitan Police but have not been granted one.

We then successfully sought a meeting with the Minister for Transport. As a result of this meeting the Minister for Cycling Robert Goodwill has re-issued the Department's support for the original Ministerial Guidance issued by Paul Boateng, following the introduction of fixed fines for pavement cycling.

This guidance states:

"The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic, and who show consideration to other pavement users.

"Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required."

We believe this is exactly the right approach to take. Cyclists should be fined for riding on the pavement if they are dangerous or in any way disrespectful to those on foot. Similarly, police should penalise red-light jumpers if they are irresponsible and put other road users at risk.

The Minister suggested that we bring his letter re-issuing his Ministerial Guidance to your attention, Sir Hugh. [see below]

We would be grateful if ACPO could indicate its support for this approach to all your Chief Officers and to the general public.

Operation Safeway as currently operated is in our opinion endangering lives.

We also object to its disproportionate targeting of cyclists, which has seen cyclists penalised at a rate 35 times higher than their comparable mileage and numbers deserves when compared to motorised vehicles.

A recent action by the police found over 70% of trucks to be in a dangerous condition. We would really welcome the targeting of substantial resources to reducing the number of illegally dangerous trucks on our streets to below 1% instead.

We look forward to a constructive reply from you and if you could encourage the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to agree to our request for an urgent meeting on cycle policing in the capital, we would be very grateful.

Yours sincerely,
Donnachadh McCarthy FRSA
Stephen Routley
Co-organisers
Stop Killing Cyclists Campaign

Attachment: Ministerial Letter from Robert Goodwill MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Stete at the Department of Transport, dated 9th January 2014. Relevant excerpt:

"Thank you for bringing the issue of cycling on the pavement around dangerous junctions such as Vauxhall Cross to my attention. I agree that the police should be using discretion in enforcing this law and would support Paul Boateng's original guidance. You may wish to write to Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, to draw this to his attention."

 


 

Also in The Ecologist today: Stop Killing Cyclists - the birth of a movement

Stop Killing Cyclists is the direct action protest group set up after the recent spate of cyclist killings in London. They arranged the mass Die-In at TfL HQ where 1,500 cyclists lay down in the road in protest at lack of safety investment in London.

 

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