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France plans crackdown on cyclists breaking traffic laws

Reduced fines will be levied far more often, says National Council for Road Safety

New plans from the France's National Council for Road Safety  (CNSR) mean good news and bad news for French cyclists who break the law: fines for offences such as jumping red lights will be reduced, but the CNSR wants ot see them handed down far more often.

According to news site The Local, French cyclists are rarely fined for breaking the road rules.

But after a trial crackdown in Strasbourg was followed by a reduction in crashes involving cyclists, the CNSR plans to change that.

Cyclists in Strasbourg have been fined €48 for riding in the wrong direction instead of the €90 the offence would cost them elsewhere in France.

Crashes involving cyclists went down 37 percent within a year; 833 fines have issued since 2012.

Cycling deaths in France rose six percent to 147 in 2013.

On Monday the CNSR recommended that the National Assembly “extend the principle of lower fines adapted to cyclists to urban zones”.

Jean-Baptiste Mathieu, the mayor of Strasbourg, said that it made no sense to fine cyclists €90.

"It is almost the cost of a bike," he said. "Reducing the fine to €45 is much fairer, and therefore a more realistic threat of punishment. It is a form of prevention."

But French cycling bodies are not impressed. Jean Chaumien, president of a local club said: "We must stop picking on cycling. €45 is still too much, as if cyclists are the worst danger, the biggest criminals in the city!"

Geneviève Laferrère, president of the French federation of bicycle users told Le Parisien: "Cyclists pose less danger to others and we have never seen a bike killing a motorist."

The CNSR acknowledged that it is "often difficult for law enforcement to monitor spreading deviant behaviour”. In order “to promote a more systematic application of sanctions” the CNSR suggested an “awareness campaign to encourage better respect of the rules”.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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