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Met Police relaunch controversial Operation Safeway - fining motorists and drivers who flaunt road rules

Officers to fine cyclists without lights - then send them on their way with a brand new set

London’s Operation Safeway, a police scheme to improve cycle safety, has been relaunched as the clocks turned back - with a new focus on cyclist visibility.

The operation, launched late last year in response to a crisis in cyclist injuries and deaths on the streets, saw officers issuing Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) to offending cyclists and drivers who breached road rules like jumping red lights, cycling on footpaths and having no lights, or for drivers, driving without insurance and driving without wearing a seatbelt.

By January, more than 13,800 fines had been issued to drivers and cyclists.

The operation saw 2,500 officers from the MPS Traffic Command and Safer Transport Command deployed to around 170 junctions across London.

The most common offences included not having lights on their bicycles at night (1,598 FPNs/reports for summons) and contravening traffic signals (1,225).

Around 900 FPNs were cancelled when the cyclists agreed to attend designated points subsequently to show that they had now fitted lights to their bikes.

Motorists were issued with 9,733 FPNs or reported for summons during the period. Failing to wear a seatbelt (2,437) and using a mobile phone while driving (2,424) were the most frequent offences. However, 1,056 motorists also contravened traffic signals.

Now more than 500 officers will police key junctions in the city to avoid more tragedy as Christmas approaches.

In a statement the Met Police said: "This time of year - with the darker evenings following the clock changes last weekend - is a peak period for cycle fatalities and serious collisions. Cyclists used to commuting home after work in daylight may now find they do so in darkness."

During this phase of Operation Safeway, officers will be giving cycle lights - funded by TfL - to those caught without them in the hours of darkness, to allow them to legally continue on their cycle journey, as well as making it easier for them to be seen by motorists and pedestrians.

Cyclists riding without lights will also be liable to a fixed penalty notices of £50 - by law, a bicycle must have a working white front light and a working red rear light from sunset to sunrise. The MPS will also be extolling the Highway Code's advice that cyclists should make themselves as visible as possible and wear reflective clothing or accessories at night.

In support of Operation Safeway, the RTPC Cycle Safety Team will be running 'Exchanging Places' events which puts people, particularly cyclists, in the driver's seat of an HGV to get a better understanding of what a driver can and cannot see, especially with regard to cyclists on the nearside and directly in front of the vehicle.

A survey of the users of the Exchanging Places programme found that 97 per cent of cyclists said they would change their riding behaviour and 99 said they would recommend it to a friend.

Chief Superintendent Matt Bell, MPS Roads and Transport Policing Command, said: "Operation Safeway aims to reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on London's roads each year. Every road death or serious injury is a needless tragedy that is devastating for the victim's family and friends. 

"The operational activity began last year and has been hugely effective at raising awareness of road safety among all road users, reminding them to take care while out on the roads.

"With fewer daylight hours at this time of year, it is even more important that cyclists have good lights on their bikes - white at the front and red at the rear - so that they are visible to motorists and pedestrians. It is also a requirement by law that they do so. 

"I urge every cyclist to affix lights and make themselves as visible as possible. Our message is clear: BE SAFE, BE BRIGHT, BE SEEN."

Steve Burton, Director of Enforcement and On-street Operations at TfL, said: "The Mayor and TfL are passionate about improving road safety across London. This enforcement activity at busy junctions will further help build awareness and reduce injuries on the Capital's roads.

"By promoting road safety through enforcing the rules of the road and giving advice to all road users, we can further reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads, making them safer for all.

"As the days become shorter and we approach winter we want to remind all cyclists to check their lights are working, ensuring they are bright enough to be seen clearly in the dark."

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