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Police should focus on bad driving, not handing out hi-viz gear to cyclists, says CTC

National cyclists' organisation weighs in following police operation in New Forest...

CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation, has said that police forces should focus on combating poor driving instead of stopping law-abiding cyclists to hand out high-visibility gear to them.

As reported on this week, police in Hampshire have been giving reflective tabards and other hi-viz equipment to cyclists in the New Forest, but CTC campaigns director Roger Geffen insists that this is not the correct way to go about increasing their safety, according to a report in the Bournemouth Echo.

“Whilst we would obviously not recommend wearing dark colours at night on an unlit road, the limited evidence on the effect of fluorescent clothing is that it makes at best only a marginal difference to cyclists’ safety,” Mr Geffen explained.

“In any case, cycling is not a particularly ‘dangerous’ activity; you are less likely to be killed in a mile of cycling than a mile of walking.

“Handing out hi-viz vests to cyclists may earn the police a few headlines, but will do little if anything to improve their safety, and is if anything more likely to put people off cycling altogether, by exaggerating the risks involved.

“That in turn could actually worsen safety for the remaining cyclists, as cycling gets less safe the fewer cyclists there are.”

He concluded: “The police should spend their time tackling the root causes of the hazards cyclists face, notably bad driving.”

However, Julian Hewitt of the Hampshire Police’s Safer Roads Partnership, disagreed, claiming that there had been a rise in accidents involving cyclists in Hampshire and that most incidents took place at roundabouts and junctions.

“Many of these collisions will be motorists emerging or crossing into the path of cyclists,” he stated.

“It would therefore seem to be a sensible precaution for cyclists to wear high visibility clothing that makes them more visible to motorists.

“Wearing safe clothing is no more likely to put people off cycling than fitting seat belts and air bags to cars would put people off driving.

“Most cyclists will feel more confident if they know that motorists are more aware of their presence and that is why they have been so keen to take up our offer of free reflective clothing,” Mr Hewitt added.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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