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Police tell children to wear high-vis gear or get off their bikes and walk

Norfolk Constabulary launches initiative in response to local residents' concerns...

Children at a school in Norwich face being ordered by police to get off their bikes and walk on the pavement unless they are wearing reflective safety gear during the hours of darkness, although there is no legal requirement for cyclists, whatever their age, to do so.

Last Friday, pupils at Hellesdon High School were given reflective snap wraps to wear and stickers for their bikes as part of an initiative launched by Norfolk Constabulary after local residents complained about children riding without reflective clothing or lights at community policing meetings.

According to local newspaper The Advertiser, the Hellesdon and Horsford Neighbourhood Policing Team, which has launched the initiative, will be telling children seen cycling without reflective clothing or stickers on their bikes to dismount and walk instead. Police will also contact parents or carers to inform them that their child had put themselves at risk on the road.

PCSO Chris Rolph told the Norwich Advertiser: “The purpose is to work with the school and pupils to reduce the risk of being injured by not being seen by other road users.

“We were getting reports from worried members of the public not being able to see youngsters due to the colour of clothing they were wearing and not having any bicycle lights,” he continued.

“The school has been very proactive and taken responsibility to launch this scheme which I hope others will follow.

“Ultimately the youngster's safety is paramount, with such a simple preventative measure to reduce the chances of injury I would encourage anyone to adopt it, ” he concluded.

Hellesdon High School’s deputy head, Alastair Ogle, supported the move, saying: “We haven't had any serious incidents involving cyclists and we would like that to continue.”

He added:
“This scheme will hopefully remind all students about the dangers of riding a bike in a busy area such as Hellesdon and may even encourage more to cycle now that we are able to provide items to help them be seen more easily by other road users.”

The school told that it does not currently offer Bikeability training to its pupils, whose ages range from 11 to 18.

But cyclists' organisation CTC, which supports parents, pupils and teachers wanted to ride to school through its Right To Ride To School campaign,  believes that the initiative is sending out the wrong message.

CTC Campaigns Coordinator Debra Rolfe told “While it is great the police and the school are taking an interest in cyclists' safety, CTC is very concerned that asking children to stop cycling just because they are not wearing reflective clothing sends out completely the wrong message.

"By stopping the children they are merely blaming the victims rather than dealing directly with what causes the majority of cycling crashes - bad driving. CTC Campaigns for more traffic policing to make our roads safer for all. Cyclists are not required by law to wear reflective clothing, whereas drivers are required to obey the speed limit.
Ms Rolfe added; "If the school is concerned about cyclists safety, I would strongly suggest they offer Bikeability training to all pupils, as it would equip the children with the skills to deal with the demands of today’s roads and they should also ask the council to introduce lower speed limits near the school.”

According to the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989 (amended in 1994 and 2005), bicycles being ridden between sunset and sunrise must be fitted with a white front and red rear lights and a red rear reflector, and bicycles made after October 1985 must also have amber pedal reflectors. There is, however, no legal requirement to wear reflective clothing.

The Cycle Safety page on the Norfolk Constabulary website advises cyclists to “always use bike lights when travelling in the dark or in conditions of reduced visibility,” but makes no mention of wearing high-visibility clothing or other reflective equipment.

Simon joined 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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Jon Burrage | 14 years ago

done, thanks simon

Simon E | 14 years ago


You should file an Incident Report at the station or online here.

DaSy | 14 years ago

It wasn't me, I couldn't afford an Apollo in the end, a Virus yes, Apollo, too rich for my blood!

Jon Burrage | 14 years ago

It was reported to the nearest police officer who was with one of those pretend police officers (pcso) who said "you sure you didnt cut him up, I mean, its not likely he would react like that otherwise"

I explained what my job entailed and that I am an experienced cyclist...they said they would look into it. Strange that a "cyclist is being actively sought out in Bristol today because of a scuffle with a van driver"...he did leave his Apollo bike behind though  39

OldRidgeback | 14 years ago

There are lots of aggressive and even some unhinged car drivers around. the cops need to crack down on the loonies, not kids on bikes. Why try and punish the victim? It makes no sense.

Regarding the driver in the Peugeot, this incident should be reported to the police.

miffed | 14 years ago

Surly the difficult is with the drivers not paying attention and bad driving should be cracked down on hard especially around schools.

Lights I agree on, Reflective tops I think is down to personal preference. There should be education to why youd want to be seen and how vunerable you are but stopping cycling is going endager the kids who continue to cycle as people wont be looking as much.

Also by 8.45 isnt it getting light anyway? Its not as dark as it was a couple of weeks ago.

Jon Burrage | 14 years ago

Its all very well cyclists knowing how vulnerable they are and having that drilled into them by the police but its hardly going to increase cycling numbers or safety.

The police need to rip into drivers who abuse, drive dangerously and generally show no consideration for anyone else. For example, today, riding to watch a cycle training course (children aged 7 and 8 being taught) I was riding along a busy road in Bristol. A black peugeot 307 OY57*** starts coming incredibly close, I mean within a foot of my rear wheel. No matter what speed I went at, he kept that distance pretty much constant. At lights he wound down his window and shouted (substitute words...) "Oi, you, cyclist c**t, im gonna f*****g kill you you c**t, get off my f*****g road...c**t" This continued all the way down gloucester road until he cut me up and sped off toward the m32. I wasnt about to try and lose him down the gloucester road in the light of what happened to a fellow cyclist earlier this week.

Be aware that I work for a road safety department and am a cycle instructor within that isnt in my nature or best interest to ride badly, inconsiderately or to do anything other than maintain my own ground on the road.

My point is, it doesnt matter how bright you are, how well you ride, how safe you try to be or how much the police patronise you...nothing will improve until they start arresting and banning drivers for the way they act.

szegerely | 14 years ago

Outrageous, where do the police get the power to tell anyone to get off their bike and walk? Cycling is an inalienable right.
So as they don't have the time to enforce traffic law, all they can do is inconvenience potential victims.

And what will those young vicitms think of cycling in the future? Having been stopped by the police? They would rather be in a car surely.

andyspaceman | 14 years ago

To be honest, anything that makes cycling safer is a positive, even if not necessarily seen as best use of the Police's time.

What's slightly unclear is whether or not they're targeting kids with lights, but not reflective gear - I will assume they're leaving the ones with lights alone.

If that is the case, then there's value in what they're doing. Twice whilst driving in the past fortnight I've almost hit teenagers cycling along the road at night with no lights or reflectors. One was riding down a dark lane wearing a black hoody and grey jeans. He obviously didn't realise how hard he was to see, but if someone had hit him our local paper would have had a field day, not having a go at the driver, but in continuing their rant about this plague of irresponsible cyclists.

I do around 40 miles per week commuting by bike, on top of my proper riding, and I'm no fan of hi-viz tops or flourescent armbands. However, a proper set of lights and some key garments with strategically placed scotchlite, as well as some of the excellent Respro Black Diamond stickering (see links below) on the bike means you can take responsibility for your own safety without looking like a Belisha Beacon. - Respro Black Diamond, no light - Respro Black Diamond, with light

If the police want to help young cyclists learn how vulnerable they are and how to do something about it, then that can only be a good thing for everyone that cycles.

cat1commuter | 14 years ago

"Sorry, I didn't see you. You weren't fluorescent enough!"

I had the feeling when during the recent bad weather I wore an orange windproof shell, that cars gave me less space when passing.

therevokid | 14 years ago

how about reflective clothing for the numpty residents
too ... pillocks. How much more draconian ruleings are
we going to get ... disengage rant mode ...

jobysp | 14 years ago

Why don't police tell cars to slow down, give more space and look out for cyclists?

Also, whilst they're at it - get off your mobiles too?

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