Friday 14 December 2012

Cambridgeshire Constabulary Hate Cyclists

So enough bellyaching about Cambridge Police targetting cyclists breaking the law on a pavement where they cannot reasonably be expected to know how not to because there is no sign saying the shared use facility ends.

I'm instead going to bellyache about yet more victim blaming crap from Cambridgeshire Police.

Lets be clear, I wouldn't advocate riding without lights or irresponsibly on the pavement. I wouldn't argue that if a copper sees such he shouldn't have a word, maybe issuing a fixed penalty notice or making an arrest if there is real danger. In fact I would happily and roundly condemn those who ride without lights as complete numpties. But I do feel that we need to put this into perspective.

On a daily basis, in Cambridge, I'll be passed too closely by three or four drivers. At every junction, at any time of day I'll see motorists speed on through red lights. Cycle lanes are routinely blocked by parked cars, thats when motorists aren't merely ignoring cycle lanes and ASL's and using them as if they're fair road space for them. Cambridge is not some magical place where the normal statistics of what causes cyclist injury are somehow suspended; the risks cyclists pose to themselves, each other and pedestrians here are as elsewhere a fart in a Jacuzzi next to the carnage caused by motor vehicle drivers. Antisocial cycling IS a problem. Its simply a far smaller problem than dangerous driving thats killing people.

We get these campaigns/clampdowns on 'antisocial' cycling here sometimes. Usually the Police wait until the clocks go back and there are suddenly darker evenings and they stand in Trinity Street or Bridge Street and net a few dozen baffled students who were riding on entirely lit roads about half a mile to their halls of residence. It doesn't impact in any way on road safety but it gets Plod in the local rag which in turn gets lots of hits as the normal frothing at the mouth cyclist haters rain hate down on anyone who dares suggest that maybe this is the wrong way to deal with things. Frankly, most students ride bikes for a bit in winter when its dark, before going home for Christmas, then as evenings start getting lighter quite fast in January the problem mostly goes away. The Police know that if they pick well lit, busy city centre streets they'll score a good total, and they get on with entirely ignoring the less well lit suburbs in which you might actually get some of the persistently unlit cyclists who may even be risking their lives. Put a graph in a report, come back next year for more of the same.

So don't lets kid ourselves that these 'crackdowns' do any good. Nor should we for the moment accept that in the complete absence of any Police work to deal with the specific risks posed to cyclists by motorists (go on, go to the local Plod with a report you've been hit by a car but are unhurt, and would like dangerous driving investigated) these are a good use of finite Police resources.

There are of course some token efforts by our Police to look cyclist friendly - they send PCSO's out on rather rickety looking bikes sometimes, for example. But don't kid yourself - Cambridgeshire Constabulary policing is BY motorists, FOR motorists. And this is yet another cynical example of the kind of victim blaming crap we see across the UK. Welcome to Cambridge, in some ways its as shit cycling here as it is anywhere else.


  1. Whilst I'm not quite sure about the language and conclusions, it is true that the police do the cycling lights thing as a PR stunt every year. And the pitiful amount of cyclists caught is a joke compared to the 158,219 drivers were seen speeding in 17 locations in a short part of 2011 ( Essentially, the police want to get people to behave rather than prosecute. Clearly this isn't working in the latter's case.

    1. If we're honest its not working for 'antisocial' cycling either. They pick things that give them good numbers and a good headline - the cycling crackdowns are easy, cheap, decent publicity, and both ineffective and pointless.

      I'd rather see an annual crackdown on close overtaking.

  2. This is likely to get worse before it gets better, with the advent of police commissioners. Politicising the oversight of the police means we are probably going to see a lot of police work governed by how it looks to public audiences rather than the impact it has in terms of crimes or improving the places we live in.