Greater Manchester Police (GMP) this week launched Operation Considerate, an ongoing campaign to encourage all types of road users to show each other consideration. The operation began with two events geared towards raising awareness of the rules around advanced stop lines (ASLs) at traffic lights.
In the morning, officers were outside the Palace Theatre on Oxford Street in the city centre, carrying out ASL checks and educating motorists and cyclists who failed to use the lines correctly. Later in the day, police and representatives from DriveSafe, Greater Manchester’s casualty reduction partnership, were in Piccadilly Gardens to provide an ASL demonstration using a life-sized mat.
ASLs provide an area for cyclists to wait in front of traffic when the lights are red, ensuring they are more easily visible to motorists and have space to move off when the lights turn green. Drivers shouldn’t enter ASL boxes when the lights are on red – although if the traffic light changes from green to amber and they cannot safely stop before the first line, they may cross it, but must then stop before the second line.
Inspector Paul Rowe of GMP’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit explained that a lot of motorists don’t appreciate what the ASLs are for.
“We were outside the Palace Theatre this morning and we stopped both cyclists and cars. A number of cars, including taxis, were actually encroaching into it, so they were stopped and they were all advised. Really it’s an engage and educate programme at the moment.”
The intention is to educate motorists and cyclists about ASLs at certain junctions around the city centre for two weeks. This will then be followed by enforcement work. Drivers who enter an ASL box when the lights are on red are liable for a £100 fine and three points on their licence. Cyclists who cross the second stop line while the traffic signal is red are liable for a £50 fine.
Explaining the philosophy behind Operation Considerate, Greater Manchester’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Jim Battle said:
“Everyone has a right to feel safe on the road – pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. We all share the road and we all need to obey the rules that help us get safely from A to B.
“Advanced stop lines provide an area of high visibility for cyclists and visibility is critical to cycling safety. GMP will be urging motorists to obey the rules of ASLs and reminding cyclists to maximise their visibility using bike lights and bright clothing – especially now the nights are getting darker.”
The launch of Operation Considerate has been timed for the week before the clocks go back, a time of year when there tends to be an increase in incident numbers.
Free sets of bike lights are available for University of Manchester students and anyone stopped for cycling in the dark without lights will be given a smaller pair to get them home after first being instructed to invest in some of higher quality.
During the morning’s ASL checks, which began at 7.30am and spanned peak commuter time, nine cyclists were stopped for having no lights on their bikes. Rowe emphasises the importance of having lights fixed to the bike, pointing out that some people rely solely on lights attached to helmets or clothing which may not be seen if they turn their head or body.
As well as the ASL demonstration, the Piccadilly Gardens event also saw Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) offering free maintenance checks to cyclists who brought their bikes along, as well as providing advice and information on free training courses and cycling safety. There was also an opportunity for people to have their bikes marked and registered free of charge.
Operation Considerate will be promoted on Twitter under #OpConsiderate and is fully endorsed by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).