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"Politcal correctness gone mad" - £50 fines issued to anti-social cyclists in Bolton

Two-day operation last week part of wider campaign aimed at improving safety among all road users

Nearly 40 cyclists were issued £50 on-the-spot fines in Bolton last week as part of a police operation designed to encourage all road users to share the roads safely. One of those fined, who seemed unaware of the law he'd been consistently breaking over the years, described it as “political correctness gone mad.”

A series of initiatives undertaken last week by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) included tackling illegal and stolen caravans, dangerous driving and uninsured vehicles, and ensuring drivers are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or distracted by mobile phones.

They also carried out ‘Operation Grimaldi’ in Bolton town centre, targeting cyclists riding on pavements or in pedestrian zones such as Victoria Square.

That specific operation was billed as being aimed at reducing the number of collisions involving cyclists, as well as reminding them about the laws applying to riding bicycles, with 38 cyclists issued with fixed penalty notices – 27 on Friday, and a further 11 on Sunday, according to The Bolton News.

Riders caught breaking the law were given the option of avoiding the fine by attending a 45-minute cycle safety awareness course at Bolton Central Fire Station, with 13 attending a session on Friday, the newspaper adds.

Attendees were shown CCTV film with examples of dangerous riding, given advice on how to ride safely, and provided with a hi-viz jacket.

Officers taking part in that operation stopped and fined three motorists for illegally using mobile phones at the wheel. Each was fined £100 in accordance with the new fixed penalty rules introduced last week.

Each will also have their driving licence endorsed with three penalty points – something that is likely to result in them have to pay increased insurance premiums.

Ahead of Operation Grimaldi, Inspector Andy Sidebotham of Bolton Central Police Station, explained: “There’s a lot of people getting into cycling but they might not have had any training or been on a bike for years.

“It’s about challenging the behaviour. Most cyclists are really considerate but a small number are unaware of the law. And some don’t pay any attention to the law – they are the ones who will be targeted.”

Jim Battle, Greater Manchester’s deputy police and crime commissioner, said: “It’s really important that we improve road craft for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. The worrying figure is 90 per cent of cyclists have no training whatsoever.”

Transport for Greater Manchester committee member Councillor David Chadwick added: “We at Bolton Council are always getting complaints about cyclists. I am a strong believer of education, it is the same for people in two wheels as it is for those on four.

“It might come as a shock to some of the people that they are being taken to task.”

One of the cyclists fined in Victoria Square on Friday was 45-year-old Alan Mulraney, who complained: “It’s political correctness gone mad, I’ve been riding my bike for 30 to 35 years and nothing like this has ever happened.

“I must have gone through the square countless times. A policeman came up to me and said you’re not allowed to ride your bike here, that’ll be a £50 fine. I’d never heard of this scheme I must admit and I thought it was wrong that they didn’t warn me at all.”

Following the end of the operation, traffic PCSO Gareth Walker was quoted by The Bolton News as saying: “We are pleased that we have enforced the road safety message for cyclists that don’t necessarily know what they are doing is wrong.

“It’s their choice whether they go to the road safety presentation or pay the fixed penalty notice.

“At the road safety presentation, there have been people upset that the fine was £50, but they did have the choice to listen to the presentation and try to change their cycling habits and get the ticket cancelled.”

According to GMP, there were a total 46 deaths in its area as a result of road traffic collisions in the 11 months from June 2012 to May 2013, compared to 59 in the same period in the previous year, a statistic they say is down to ongoing clampdowns on illegal road behaviour.

Since March last year, those have been co-ordinated under the umbrella of Operation Dice, and speaking about last week’s initiatives, Inspector Matt Bailey-Smith said: ““This week is about highlighting the dangers of using the roads illegally and irresponsibly.

“We want to educate drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists about checking their speed, making sure seat belts are always worn, ensuring drivers are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and they are not distracted by mobile phones or other electrical equipment.

He added: “We will be out this week clamping down on uninsured drivers, who are a risk to themselves and other road users, illegal or stolen caravans, plants and trailers being used on our motorway network and we will also be talking to and educating cyclists about riding safely, not running red lights and wearing the correct safety equipment.

“Our main objective is to see the number of killed and seriously injured on our roads continue to fall and to ensure the roads are safe for everyone.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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73 comments

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Ciaran Patrick replied to Bez | 10 years ago
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Bez. I was at a London Bike show where the Metropolitian Bike Squad had a stand. I asked them about cycling my 7 year son home. They informed me that it is perfectly alright to ride with your kids on the pavement providing you don't cause a nuisance or worse to other users of that space.

I agree the interesting point is that (i think 17 may have been a bit old) but the definitely said that up a certain age kids are not allowed to ride any vehicle even self propelled vehicles on the road.

The point was proven when the 4 coppers in there cars had to admit I was doing nothing wrong by cycling my son home from school one day. We were not causing a nuisance and we stop and were polite of other users of that space. They came back a day later saying they were doing to let it go after I pursued the issue with them

The problem here is I think that pavements are not understood, the law and cyclists and road users understanding of what is the law here (me included) has become a bit of an Urban myth in terms of what is allowed.

For instance a car can park on a pavement if there is no parking restriction ie yellow lines to indiocate otherwise. This means where there are no restrictions you can drive and cycle on the pavement. This is a fact. What stops pavements being driven on is the restrictions applied by the local councils. the yellow and red lines. That is why in shopping centre's there needs to be a specific detail on no cycling, skateboarding etc to indicate where you can and can't ride.

This is where the confusion lies in understand whether you can or cannot ride on pavements. It also means that people like colinth assumes all pavements can't be ridden on not true at all and this blanket belief the dictates all peoplke who ride on pavements are dickheads. As I said its the restrictions on the road also applied to the pavements.

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jonb | 10 years ago
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I had one experience recently, and one a few years ago, which make me despair over the attitude towards cycling "safety" and the law in the UK.

Last week I rode with my 3 year old (on his bike) down some narrow lanes in France. One time it was fairly busy with cars, all trying to get in or out of parking spaces and squeeze past each other. Every single one of them gave us plenty of room and I didn't ever feel he was any danger. The behaviour of the car drivers was absolutely one of sharing the road with cyclists, they waited, gave space, and were appreciative if you gave them space. Doing something similar in the UK would have given me kittens. Riding on my own the only cars that didn't give me more-than-adequate room were Belgians... but I suspect as a nation of drivers (particularly when outside their own borders) they are beyond help.

A good few years ago I was in Berlin for SSWC. Over a week we rode around the city a lot, and a lot of that riding was actually on pavements amongst pedestrians. No one had an accident, no one minded that they were shoulder to shoulder with a bike, we didn't get arrested, everyone was happy. If I'd done that through London on a busy Summer day the outcome would have been very different.

Enforcing these laws against cyclists without any real assessment of the risks and benefits does absolutely nothing to help road safety. IMO.

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Bez | 10 years ago
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Though it's interesting that a lot of cyclists' responses to this news have been along the lines of "haven't the police got proper criminals to catch" etc.

As per the linked blog above, I think doing this stuff is fine as long as it's (a) proportionate and (b) explained as addressing pedestrians' perceived issues (which are often valid, take note) rather than as improving safety. Because the evidence suggests that they worsen safety.

Once the police dress it up as a safety thing, they really should be able to defend it with real data and they also have to understand that it instantly raises the issue of proportionality when compared to the massively greater risk of motoring offences.

Link again, which covers it: http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/the-bolton-price-compariso...

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crazy-legs | 10 years ago
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What Bez said + about 1,000,000.

It's dead easy to stop a cyclist. They're not going that fast and, when stopped, they don't cause any congestion. Chances are they're breaking some kind of law, knowingly or otherwise - I mean, do you have amber pedal reflectors or wheel reflectors? Or maybe you've exceeded the stop line a bit.

So it's dead easy to pull you over and fine you.

Much more difficult with cars. Stopping them invariably causes a traffic jam behind, there's much more paperwork and it's hard work for the average police officer.

So they go after the easy option. Good headlines (tackling the scourge of the lycra lout). If you go after motorists the headline is always "haven't the police got better things to do than fine the hard-up, honest, down-to-earth, taxpaying motorist for petty infringements?"

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Actium | 10 years ago
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“Our main objective is to see the number of killed and seriously injured on our roads continue to fall and to ensure the roads are safe for everyone.” How does tackling cyclists achieve their stated objective? The answer is it doesn't. This is just the shouty ill informed public who moan on about lycra-louts to the PCC who then takes action in order to get votes. People should not be prosecuted or impeded in any way just for politically motivated nonsense.

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andybwhite | 10 years ago
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If they introduced this in the West Midlands they'd have to fine all the 'cycling' PSOs and police officers - they cycle through all the no-cycling zones with complete impunity, what an example to set!

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harman_mogul | 10 years ago
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Cruel but fair!

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Not KOM | 10 years ago
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Just one point on the 'money making exercise'. It probably costs more to issue and administer these fines than they collect in fines.

I have no problem with them as available tools for law enforcement (in fact, I would imagine they work rather well) but I'm not sure that they will ever turn a profit on them.

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Marky Legs | 10 years ago
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Can we have some fines handed out to pedestrians aimlessly walking into the road whilst on their mobile phone or listening to music through their headphones!!!!

They are also a DANGER to others

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Gashead replied to Marky Legs | 10 years ago
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Marky Legs wrote:

Can we have some fines handed out to pedestrians aimlessly walking into the road whilst on their mobile phone or listening to music through their headphones!!!!

They are also a DANGER to others

A recent development in London is pedestrians walking out who don't even have the "excuse" of being on the phone or lost in music. There is a set of temporary bollards outside Buckingham Palace in the middle of the road resulting in bizarre lines of pedestrians crossing between two nearby light controlled pedestrian crossings. The presence of taxis doesn't daunt them and cyclists are mere detail. This doesn't just happen on occasion but all day every day.

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caaad10 | 10 years ago
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Who the hell designed that Dicing With Death poster?!!

I just don't understand why people in the UK accept this rubbish, anyone who doesn't see the 'political correctness' argument must be already brainwashed into believing the spinning suits who churn out the same 'it's for your own good' poop.

WAKE UP and watch what's left of your freedom disappear into the state bank account, or just shut up & let the rest of us live a life worth living whilst you read the highway code as a bedtime treat.

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northstar | 10 years ago
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Quote:

If it's that bad then don't cycle that route. Or get better at cycling, since realistically it's not that difficult to ride safely within the confines of the law.

Heard it all now.

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eurotrash | 10 years ago
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Not sure how fining cyclists or anyone really for breaking the law is "political correctness gone mad".

And on another note, if you find roads dangerous to ride on, or junctions "badly designed", that's not a legitimate reason to break the law by riding on the pavement or jumping red lights. If it's that bad then don't cycle that route. Or get better at cycling, since realistically it's not that difficult to ride safely within the confines of the law.

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a.jumper replied to eurotrash | 10 years ago
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eurotrash wrote:

Not sure how fining cyclists or anyone really for breaking the law is "political correctness gone mad".

It's often a misuse of resources, picking on the easy target to be seen to do something, rather than target the bigger dangers of RLJing and mobile phoney drivers. Were there really only 3 of them in that city centre while they were fining 38 cyclists? Let's target resources in proportion to the potential for harm, please!

eurotrash wrote:

And on another note, if you find roads dangerous to ride on, or junctions "badly designed", that's not a legitimate reason to break the law by riding on the pavement or jumping red lights.

"I should stress that the issue is about inconsiderate cycling on the pavements. The new provisions are not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic, and who show consideration to other road users when doing so. Chief officers recognise that the fixed penalty needs to be used with a considerable degree of discretion and it cannot be issued to anyone under the age of 16." (Letter to Mr H. Peel from John Crozier of The Home Office, reference T5080/4, 23 February 2004)

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Bez replied to eurotrash | 10 years ago
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eurotrash wrote:

If it's that bad … get better at cycling, since realistically it's not that difficult to ride safely within the confines of the law.

This is true if you are experienced, fast, not carrying shopping, don't have a bad back, are very confident, are not towing a child, are happy to break into heavy sweat, able to accelerate to 20mph in under 100m, can hold a high speed up a hill, can look around you fully without any wobble to the bike, and are generally happy with the basic principle of being surrounded by vehicles that have at least 100 times as much kinetic energy as you, if not much more.

But for anyone else, that's utterly boneheaded "advice".

What next, women should just walk their most direct route home in the dead of night, no matter how dangerous that is, and if they feel scared they should "get better at running"?

Not everyone is a Mamil. Why should people have to ride like Cavendish just to get to work?

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Pjrob | 10 years ago
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Funny thing is the three safest countries to ride in, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, seem not to differentiate between a bike lane and a pedestrian walkway. All seem to share with apparently not too many accidents.
I must admit though that they have no problem getting off and walking through city squares, etc when there are alot of people about.

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Pierre replied to Pjrob | 10 years ago
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Pjrob wrote:

Funny thing is the three safest countries to ride in, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, seem not to differentiate between a bike lane and a pedestrian walkway. All seem to share with apparently not too many accidents.

I've only cycled in two of those, the Netherlands and Sweden, but they DEFINITELY differentiate between a bike lane and a pedestrian walkway. In the Netherlands there are mandatory bike lanes where you're not allowed to ride on the road (as there are in Belgium) and they're clearly separated from the pedestrian walkways. Also, bike lanes are either one-way or usually have a clear line down the middle; you ride on the right side of the lane or you have cyclists riding straight towards you because you're in the wrong.

Again, as with many articles about "cyclists", no differentiation is made between an idiot riding a bike and the average mostly law-abiding road cyclist. To be honest, I wish the police spent more time stopping and fining the chavs who ride up and down the pavement on their terrible wrecks, or the dicks who think they're so much more important than anyone else that they can ignore red lights.

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a.jumper | 10 years ago
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The worrying figure is 90 per cent of cyclists have no training whatsoever.”

Yeah, they just figured out how to ride a bike unaided? Or don't friends and family count for the police? OK, it's not the best training but it's still training.

Also, blue and white signs (comment above) are informative. No cycling signs are red, white and black.

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seven | 10 years ago
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Your man Alan Mulraney doesn't seem like the sharpest tool in the box does he? How is this "political correctness?"

Lacking in perspective? Yes. But politically correct? Not quite.

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banzicyclist2 | 10 years ago
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The highway code makes it very clear... you're not allowed to ride on pavements, and must must obey traffic signals I.e. stop at red lights, even if the way ahead is clear. It's not rocket sience is it?

Generally cyclists obey these rules of the road, "people who ride bikes" have a tendancy not to. They need some education, for some of them paying a £50 fine a few times is probably the only type of "training" they are bright enough to understand.

Anyone using the road should be aware of the highway code, including pedestrians!

Ignorance is not a justified defense in my opinion! So pay up, shut up, and stay off the pavements, and when required STOP AT RED LIGHTS! Then you can complain about careles motorists with a clear consience!  39 !

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Argos74 | 10 years ago
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Used to work in Sale, down the road from sunny Bolton, and the number of people on bikes* in the pedestrianised shopping area was scary. Blue signs indicating no cycling were scattered all over the place, and still they were swerving round old age pensioners and parents with small children.

Didn't say anything at the time, I'm older and a bit more militant now. So really don't have a problem with Manc Plod coming down on them like a ton of bricks (even then they were offered the alternative of a cycling safety course, something I'd expect to pay for).

* sticks in the craw to call them cyclists.

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moonbucket | 10 years ago
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A quick google shows the cyclists weren't cycling "on the pavement" as such but across a large pedestrian municipal square.

So basically Plod has targeted the easiest spot in which to nab as many cyclists as possible taking a short-cut.

Contrast that with their sterling efforts in catching a paltry 3 mobile phone drivers.

I hope they didn't work too hard as they've achieved sod all.

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davkt | 10 years ago
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Lets see the complaining guilty party is pretty much my age, I grew up knowing bikes belong on the road and not pavement as did everyone else I know. It only seems the last 10 or 15 years so many people seem to think it is OK to ride on the pavement to the extent I've seen what can only be described as pavement rage from some of them when pedestrians dare to impede their progress! Just like the red light jumpers another bunch of idiots giving us all a bad name!

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marobertson | 10 years ago
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Owen rodgers re the correct safety equipment - it does now state in rule 59 of the highway code what cyclist should wear- it is advisory as apposed to mandatory but I think this is where they are coming from

The other interesting quote is that 90% of cyclists don’t have training- currently the law doesn’t require them to – now there is an argument, which I agree with, that cycling training should be taught in school as part of wider road safety education but it does seem wrong to target a group for not having training when it isn’t legally required and fining them -I mean what percentage of pedestrians have had training ??? Will the police be targeting them?

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marobertson | 10 years ago
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Firstly can I say if cyclist are riding in a manner which endangers pedestrians in a shared space they deserve to be fined.
However I am a little confused reading this story as from a cyclist point of view in some pedestrianized zones – cycling is allowed and in others it isn’t so it can be confusing. In fact in this pdf from cycling England it names the areas where it is allowed and parts of Bolton are named ( I don’t know Bolton so have no idea if the area mentioned in the pdf is the one in this article)
http://www.ciltuk.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/The%20Hub/infrastructure/Cy...

Even if they are not from reading the article it seems to be normal behaviour to ride on this pedestrianized area – The question I have is it clearly signed that cycling isn’t allowed if yes then fair cop. Also fair cop if cycling to fast or you are behaving aggressively to other users.
But this is where it gets interesting as the department of transport recommendation is that cyclist should be allowed in pedestrian area.

http://www.ukroads.org/webfiles/LTN%202-04%20Adjacent%20and%20Shared%20U...

The link above takes you to the pdf and the details are in section 8.2. – but section 8.2.1 states:-

“Cyclists often need access to pedestrianised areas to reach their workplace, shops or other destinations. Studies by Transport Research Laboratory‚ have shown that
there are no real factors to justify excluding cyclists from pedestrianised areas ”

With this in mind if people are cycling safely across the zone it does appear pedantic at best to fine the cyclists if their only offence is cycling in a pedestrian zone.

I am also interested in the councillor’s quote about taking action after numerous complaints against cyclist – Our village has made numerous complaints about speeding motorists but while both the council and the police tell us that they agree they state they have no resource to take action. One rule….?

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didds replied to marobertson | 10 years ago
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marobertson wrote:

But this is where it gets interesting as the department of transport recommendation is that cyclist should be allowed in pedestrian area.

...

“Cyclists often need access to pedestrianised areas to reach their workplace, shops or other destinations. Studies by Transport Research Laboratory‚ have shown that
there are no real factors to justify excluding cyclists from pedestrianised areas ”

but nobody is stopping them from wheeling their bicycles and walking - along with the other walking pedestrians?

Or am I missing something?

didds

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crazy-legs | 10 years ago
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Quote:

Stuff like this misses the point that anti-social driving is main reason for people ride on pavement. Tackle the cause, not the symptom.

This ^^.

Why do people ride on the pavement?
cos the roads are dangerous

Why do cyclists jump red lights?
cos the junctions are badly designed

Sort out the dangerous driving, the rest falls into place. Or have the police not learnt their lesson from London - fining cyclists for riding along a bus-only lane, cyclists go the long (and dangerous) way round to avoid it, one dies under the wheels of a tipper truck.  2

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Chuck replied to crazy-legs | 10 years ago
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crazy-legs wrote:

Why do people ride on the pavement?
cos the roads are dangerous

Why do cyclists jump red lights?
cos the junctions are badly designed

That might be why most people ride on the pavements but I strongly suspect the real reason most people jump reds is because they can't be ar$ed to wait.

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CStar replied to Chuck | 10 years ago
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Chuck wrote:
crazy-legs wrote:

Why do people ride on the pavement?
cos the roads are dangerous

Why do cyclists jump red lights?
cos the junctions are badly designed

That might be why most people ride on the pavements but I strongly suspect the real reason most people jump reds is because they can't be ar$ed to wait.

Let's be honest some cyclists jump red lights to save the energy of slowing to a stop and then having to start off again. It is much easier to simply keep going if, and only if, it is safe to do so. No intelligent cyclist, given their own vulnerability is going to jump a red light if it is not completely safe to do so. For those that are particularly stupid and go through them when not safe then they cannot expect any sympathy if they get splatted.

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Bez replied to CStar | 10 years ago
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CStar wrote:

For those that are particularly stupid and go through them when not safe then they cannot expect any sympathy if they get splatted.

If only things were that simple  1

A while ago there was a case involving a cyclist who was injured at a traffic light-controlled junction in a collision with a taxi. The cyclist had jumped a red light.

(You're banging the gavel here, right?)

The taxi, however, was speeding and thus may well have (a) arrived at the junction much more quickly than the cyclist may have expected in terms of an event horizon when jumping the light and (b) been less able to avoid a collision.

The case was complex, of course, because both parties had committed offences and were thus attributed blame; but it had to be decided what balance of responsibility was correct.

You may still say the cyclist is fully responsible and deserves no sympathy, of course, and that's a tenable view. But it's worth noting that once you start mixing other people's misdemeanours into the equation, a decision that seemed safe can quickly become unsafe. Obviously, it's one good reason to err on the side of caution; but nevertheless, few things are black and white.

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