Jumping red lights, talking on mobiles, cycling on pavements and driving into advanced stop boxes. All behaviours we are either guilty of or victim to. The message being spread by TfL is for all of us to be more courteous to each other on the roads and that nobody is above the law.
One of the ways of spreading this message is through stepping up police operations. This is likely to mean more fines for cyclists and drivers. Less serious offences are being given the option to either take the £60 fixed penalty notice or go on a safety education course that takes around 30 minutes. The definition of what constitutes a less serious offence is unclear.
Last year, the Met cut the total number of red light tickets issues by over a third. There are similar reports about less enforcement on the ban of mobile phones whilst driving. If you add to this the 20% budget cut for Met Police traffic officers then the evidence points towards less enforcement and more cowboys on the roads.
Decreased enforcements results in a less pleasant and safe environment to cycle, walk and drive. Of course, what is highly questionable, is the effectiveness in using police time to target cyclists. This is when you consider only one reported death from dangerous cycling in the past year as opposed to cars causing deaths on the UK road’s on a daily basis. The problem for police however is that their priorities have to filter down from community feedback and right now everyone is very angry at cyclists who disobey the rules.
It also seems a little unfair that community support officers are able to hand out fixed penalty notices to cyclists but not to drivers. While I stood at the TfL press event with police officers scattered everywhere buses were still happily pulling into advanced stop lines meant for cyclists. Whilst it is not actually against the law to stop in an advanced stop line it is an example of highly “anti-social” behaviour on the roads which this campaign is targetting.
The above picture shows the impunity which bus drivers receive.
When chatting to one of the officers I was also informed that in his opinion cyclists should not be on London roads if they don’t know what they are doing. It would seem to me that thinking such as this is quite alarming. Pointing out cycling to be an activity that only the brave and highly trained few can do does not help boost cycling in London.
Fortunately it’s not all bad news. There are a lot of positive outcomes from the Mayor’s Share the Road campaign and having better enforcement. For a start, the option to go on a training course is probably far more effective than handing out a fine. Also, it’s good to see that the official line is that both cyclists and motorists need to be targeted. The enforcement increase could have easily been focused just at cyclists.
Sharing the road and being a courteous road user is a message I can definitely buy into. It will be interesting to see if the crackdown on bad road users will have an impact around London.
Perhaps the best news from this press release and event comes from speaking with the Mayor’s Transport Advisor Kulveen Ranger. Fortunately, as a cyclist himself, he has experience of both perspectives. He recently asked the Department for Transport to review both the rules of the road and also the driving test to bring cyclists more into the equation. In the long term this might have the most positive outcome.