Monday 4 February 2013

Cambridge Cops to Claim Credit for Spring!

I'm a cyclist in Cambridge. I'm public enemy number 1.

There is a veritable army (well, extended platoon sized detachment) of 30 PCSO's supported fully by the police generalissimo Graham Bright out to get us cyclists for riding on the pavements, going through red lights, and all the usual crap you don't do you're used to people whinging at you about.

Now I'll not go in depth into why this is a waste of police time - for further info see other entries here - suffice to say that this is not a priority based on recorded accident statistics. This may reduce accident rates but if it does it will be such a small reduction that it'll be within statistical noise - we know that because thats the proportion of accidents being caused by cyclists breaking said rules.

So lets be under no illusions - this isn't about saving cyclists lives. If that were the goal then the action would not be to prioritise having lights, it would be to deal with the driving that injures, maims and kills cyclists (and pedestrians) in such numbers. This is about being seen to be doing something, its about appeasing those who set police priorities through incessant moaning, and it is about getting some positive headlines from a local press who are so demonstrably anti-cyclist.

This is the predictable result of an out of touch police commissioner being elected (Tories knew they could put up a monkey with a blue rosette - I leave it to my readers to decide whether this is what they actually did) to enforce the priorities of the complaining minority - Graham Bright has shown himself to be on another planet, as far as cycling is concerned. And our police force? They're not daft - they've found a way of appeasing both Bright and the motorists - all they have to do is scapegoat the cyclists. And they don't even have to achieve anything.

Anyone who has ridden in Cambridge for a few years will be familiar with the annual cycle of bike light discovery - new kids come to town, the clocks go back, suddenly its dark at teatime and there's a horde of cyclists without lights. After a few weeks of winter many have got lights or have just given up riding through the cold season. This is usually when the police have their annual crackdown - all they're doing this year is extending it further out from the city centre and for a little longer. Soon enough there'll be a press release claiming they've achieve an (x) percent reduction in cyclists without lights, which of course will be completely coincidental with the lengthening evenings. 

Operation Pedalo (as they've called it) isn't about reducing injuries to cyclists or pedestrians - such would not be a rational response to how accidents and injuries are caused in this city. Its about the police looking good for their new commissioner, and appeasing those whose bias against cyclists blinds them to the real dangers on the roads. It exposes Cambridge Constabulary not so much as our enemy, more as a body willing to prioritise good PR above our safety. Which, in my opinion, is just as bad. 


  1. Police PR: I know just how much information I have fed to them about the causes of cyclist casualties in Cambridge. Their rep at the North Area committee was quite aware of the criticisms of the previous operation. However, they continue to say that one of their aims is to "reduce road deaths and casualties amongst cyclists".

    That aim is flawed and the Cambridgeshire Police are losing a lot of credibility by ignoring the statistical information and hiding behind the wishes of residents who make the most noise.

    We will hear excuses about local police don't do this, specials can't do that, traffic cops are helping on drugs busts, sorry not our department. Something needs fixing and the PCC Graham Bright and the Chief Constable Simon Parr are the people who sort it.

    The worst part is the fact that children and young adults are being injured in our city and the Police are ignoring that. Stop-de-Kindermord Cambridgeshire Police?

    1. In my opinion Operation Pedalo ought to be called Operation "low-hanging fruit". Given how easy it is to do, it probably gives the best number of tickets/man hour of any Police activity.

      At the same time we have the PCC telling us that "the law is the law" and "you can't cherry pick the law". Yet the (legal maximum) Speed limits have been "eased" by ACPO guidelines and the Police in Cambridge talk about not enforcing some of the 20mph limits.

      So my message to the PCC is don't cherry-pick which laws you choose to enforce, focus on what will genuinely increase safety for vulnerable road users.

    2. Of course the Police will say look, its just as bad again next year. Then they can put MORE resources into it, get MORE cyclists ticketed, present this as an even greater success, give another great headline for a basically cyclist hating commissioner to present to a public who are skeptical regarding cycling in Cambridgeshire as anywhere else in the UK.

      All along, this will completely fail to make things safer for cyclists.

  2. Total waste of police time. Operation Pedalo is farcical.