West Midlands Police has reiterated that it does not consider it to be in the public interest to proactively target cyclists. The comments come in response to comments made by the lawyer known as Mr Loophole, who has suggested that the force is “turning a blind eye” to cycling offences.
West Midlands Police has received plaudits for its close-pass initiative and is developing a training package so that it can be rolled out by other forces.
When it first announced the measure, it reasoned that “… it would be a waste of our time, and thus public time and money to concentrate on cyclist behaviour. The figures speak for themselves... drivers don’t let your prejudices get in the way of the truth…”
Manchester-based solicitor Nick Freeman, who has trademarked his Mr Loophole nickname, thinks otherwise.
Freeman, who believes that cyclists should be made to wear helmets and high-visibility clothing and display registration plates on their bikes, questioned why West Midlands Police hadn’t fined anyone for cycling on footpaths last year.
“How many times do we see cyclists at night without lights on their bikes? How many times do we see cyclists riding on pavements forcing pedestrians to flee for their safety? And how many times do we see them ignoring junctions, zebra crossings and traffic lights?
“Cycling on footpaths is a danger to pedestrians, and cycling at night without lights is a danger to all, yet countless do it on a regular basis.
“The laws are there for a reason and I don’t believe our police forces per se are taking them seriously.”
Superintendent Dean Hatton said evidence showed cyclists on the pavement do not often come into conflict with pedestrians and police therefore had other priorities.
“Over the last three years one person was killed as a result of such a collision nationally. In fact the majority of pavement cycling is done by youngsters or those who feel in danger on the road due to motorists or a lack of cycling infrastructure.
“We do not consider it to be in the public interest to proactively target such behaviour given the health and wider community benefits of cycling. It is also often the case that many pavements are shared paths, which cyclists can legally use.
“However, if we do see people cycling in a dangerous or inconsiderate manner, which threatens the safety of pedestrians, then we can and do take action accordingly. Our focus has and always will be driven by evidence about what poses the greatest threat of harm to road users.”