What reward do you get for cycling in London? Well, under new proposals by Westminster Council you could be fined £100 (up from £30) for doing the things cyclists sometimes do.
- Jumping red lights
- Riding on the pavement
- Ignoring one way signs
It doesn’t matter if the traffic light has absolutely no one crossing, or if you don’t take the one way street you have to go down a busy, dangerous road or if you ride slowly on an empty pavement to avoid getting crushed by cars.
Nor does it matter than cyclists cause less than 1% of injuries to pedestrians or that in the past 8 years in London a cyclist has not killed a single person.
Angela Harvey, who is apparently chairman of Westminster’s scrutiny committee and probably not one for creating liveable streets that we can all enjoy, had this to say:
“We’re always getting little old ladies who are knocked down and abused by a cyclist, who leaves them on the ground as they ride away.”
Is it just me who has never seen a “little old lady” run over by a bike? And if it does happen is this really done more by cyclists or by motorists?
The truth is the UK road system is designed around cars with no real regard for cyclists which is why we are forced to “break” these rules. As recently quoted by Freewheeler regarding the campaign to get cyclists to stop at red lights:
‘Stop at Red’ completely misunderstands the problem – rather than campaigning for road laws which accommodate cyclists, they are campaigning to force cyclists to conform to the current laws – which are designed for cars.
Many (although not all) riders who jump lights have simply seen the truth of this, and choose to take responsibility for progressing when it is safe, just as pedestrians do. The elephant in the room is that bikes are *not* cars.
The fact that the law largely requires cyclists to obey “car laws” is a problem which should be addressed by new laws. Pedestrians already treat the ‘red man’ as a ‘give way’ sign, and there is no reason why cyclists should be persecuted for the equivalent. If cyclists are cutting up pedestrians on crossings they should be hit with fixed penalties – but not for jumping lights when there are no pedestrians.
Luckily there has been some progress with trials of allowing cyclists to ignore one way street signs.
Westminster council should be doing everything in its power to encourage cycling not to fine people who choose to brave the London roads. How many more people will be discouraged from cycling after hearing stories about the £100 fines people have received?
I for one am glad I live just outside the Westminster council boundary and while I definitely don’t make a habit of skipping red lights and cycling down one way streets I will be less than happy if I receive the proposed increased fine.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.