Figures requested by the Gloucester Citizen under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that just five cyclists have been stopped by Gloucestershire Constabulary for riding while drunk in the last five years. The figures were requested after a Dursley man was arrested last August having attempted to cycle after drinking 16 pints of lager and a bottle and a half of liqueur.
Gloucestershire police said there was limited recorded information in their case management system for ‘drunk in charge of a pedal cycle/carriage/animal’ as it is not a notifiable offence under the Home Office charging rules.
The constabulary recorded three such offences in 2009, which resulted in two cautions and one charge; one in 2010, which resulted in a charge; and one in 2013, which resulted in a caution.
In August, Stephen Cosworth was ordered to pay £250 in compensation after damaging a car he cycled into in Gloucester, causing £1,000 worth of damage. Cosworth was said to have been so intoxicated at the time of his arrest that he was unable to answer questions.
He later told police that he had drunk 16 pints of lager and a bottle-and-half of Disaronno, the almond-based Italian liqueur. Edward Counsell, prosecuting, told the court: “He said he started drinking at 3.30pm and left the Northend Vaults pub at 9.30pm but could not remember riding up the wrong side of the road, except something clipping him.”
The father of 15 had been banned from driving and had appeared before a court 48 times over 152 charges. He admitted riding a pedal cycle under the influence of drink and riding a cycle on a road without due care and attention.
“He told police he was willing to pay for the damage and had taken medication which he should not have taken alcohol with,” said Counsell.
Last year, Sussex Police confirmed that they had arrested just one cyclist for riding a bike while drunk during the previous three years. The contrast with several other countries is stark. A 2009 BBC report highlighted how 2,000 Polish cyclists are arrested for cycling drunk each year. Also in 2009, a German student who was breathalysed at over three times the German limit for alcohol was banned from using a bicycle, skateboard or any other licence-free vehicle on public roads for 15 years.
Gloucestershire police also stated that since June 2013 nine tickets have been issued to cyclists for no specific obligatory lamps, five tickets for using a pedal cycle where front/rear position lamp/retro reflector are not fitted and 38 for using a pedal cycle on a road at night when front/rear lamps not lit.