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Almost 1,000 cyclists fined for jumping red lights in last nine months since City of London Police introduced "Cycle Response Unit"

"The majority of cyclists are safe and obey the Highway Code, however, we are educating, engaging and where necessary enforcing those road users who go through red lights, putting themselves and pedestrians at risk"...

City of London Police has handed out 944 fixed penalty notices to cyclists for riding through red lights since its Cycle Response Unit was formed nine months ago, the force has today revealed.

The authority — which polices the Square Mile area of the English capital home to the Stock Exchange, Bank of England and St Paul's Cathedral — said it would continue to fine cyclists who ride "through red lights, putting themselves and pedestrians at risk".

Cyclists in London stopped at red light outside marks and spencer - copyright Simon MacMichael

Releasing the figures as part of a "cycle roadshow" morning of action outside Mansion House, City of London Police said it would be "cracking down on anti-social behaviour and road offences" at Bank Junction, with "cyclists going through red lights and endangering pedestrians and other road users" to be "issued with an invitation to attend the free roadshow taking place between 8am and 10am". Refusal will result in a £50 fine, the operation somewhat mirroring the structure of other police force's close pass operations, where some drivers are offered roadside education to avoid a fixed penalty notice.

> Should cyclists be allowed to ride through red lights? Campaigners split on safety benefits

The Commander of City of London Police Umer Khan said that while "the majority of cyclists are safe and obey the Highway Code" it remains worth "educating, engaging and where necessary enforcing those road users who go through red lights, putting themselves and pedestrians at risk".

"Cycling operations around big interchanges have made a significant difference in reducing anti-social behaviour by road users in the City of London. The cycle team is one of our visible units people see on the streets, however, their vital work cannot be done without a wealth of dedicated officers and key partners such as the City of London Corporations Highways and Transport for London (TfL) working together, helping keep the City streets the amongst the safest in the country," he said.

The Chair of the City of London Police Authority Board, James Thomson, added that on the Square Mile's "small and dynamic" streets "we need to encourage cyclists to use them safely and to respect pedestrians and other road users".

red light CitizenM_Glasgow_Hotel_02

"This event is an innovative way to educate our communities on how different road users experience the City. We know most cyclists behave responsibly but, the City of London Police will engage with those who do not and seek to educate and enforce where necessary including issuing fixed penalty fines and seizing illegal e-bikes and e-scooters," he said.

A crackdown on illegal e-bikes and e-scooters is also part of the action, the force said, with the case of Jamal Ampomah cited as evidence of its success. Ampomah appeared in court earlier this month having been seen riding through two red lights and refusing to stop last August. 

> Bill Nighy thanks cyclist for stopping at red traffic light

The e-bike he was riding was illegal, with a motor greater than 250 watts and featuring a full throttle, but he challenged the roadside fixed penalty notice and was ordered to pay £1,050 in fines and costs and received six penalty points on his licence having also been found to have no insurance, something not required of cyclists riding bicycles or legal e-bikes.

"The enforcement of cycling offences has not meant that the force has taken its focus from road traffic offences by drivers, which have a higher rate of causing death and serious injury on our roads," City of London Police stated, highlighting that since July 2023 its Road Policing Unit has stopped and checked 3,852 vehicles, issued 1,678 traffic offences, made 92 arrests and seized 203 vehicles for no insurance.

It was also keen to point out that while part of the Mansion House cycle roadshow will involve education of cyclists who have jumped red lights this morning, there will also be partners registering cyclists' bikes, the opportunity to sit inside an HGV lorry "to see the road from the view point of a lorry cab", as well as talks from the London Fire Brigade about "the dangers of e-bikes and scooters" and neighbourhood police teams about crime and policing matters.

> "Cyclists see themselves as the centre of the universe," says actress Patricia Hodge in rant questioning why police "never" stop red light-jumping cyclists

Lord Mayor Professor Michael Mainelli said: "The Square Mile is a safe area – a world-leading business district and leisure destination that appeals to workers, residents, and visitors alike. It is a vibrant place for everyone to enjoy. Today's event is a great opportunity to educate cyclists about making their way around safely, for themselves, fellow pedestrians, and road users."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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39 comments

Avatar
imajez | 1 month ago
2 likes

The important distinction here is that traffic lights are only needed for motor vehicles cars to stop drivers causing dangerous accidents. Cyclists don't actually need them because the typical speeds, as well as mass involved are so very much lower. In the Netherlands after tinkering with various designs for a very busy complex junction, they removed lights and that turned out to be the correct solution. 
Not 100% sure if this is that particular junction, but either way, the constant flow of all kinds of road users, the lack of anatagonism and how chilled folk are  is remarkable. It also makes for a weirdly hypnotic watch
Why should cyclists be punished for not obeying laws specifically designed for dangerous drivers? 

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chrisonabike replied to imajez | 1 month ago
1 like

Link didn't work for me, did you mean eg. here:

https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2024/01/31/cycling-in-amsterdam-watch...

Agree with the general point but there are nuances. First we have to be very careful about straying into the failed concept of "shared space" (per eg. Hans Monderman etc.):

https://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/04/shared-space-revisited-hyp...

That only "works" under special conditions, particularly when motor traffic is involved. In the UK I suspect a generation or two would be needed to recalibrate social expectations and behaviour of drivers to allow that kind of thing, never mind reducing the motor traffic flow to something compatible...

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MattieKempy | 1 month ago
2 likes

Someone has probably already mentioned this, but it would be really interesting to see the statistics in the context of the total number of cyclists using the study area in the study timeframe as a simple '900 cyclists' could be misleading. It would also be interesting to compare those statistics to the numbers of drivists getting sanctioned for offences within the same area and timescale. 

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 1 month ago
3 likes

It's such a tricky subject - rules are rules and should be obeyed. I was waiting at a red light yesterday in London (on the bike) And as I waited a lady on a Brompton went through, a young guy on a hire bike, a lady on a 'shopper' and another young guy on a hybrid went through. Another lady on a TERN waited at the lights. Non of the 'Red light jumpers' did anything dangerous, they were cautious and no pedestrians or other road users had to scramble out of the way. The way was clear. Pedestrians do it all the time - they cross whenever they choose and do not always wait for the Green light or use the crossings provided - but there is no censure or outrage. I understand cycles can be more intimidating but watching these 'red light jumpers' yesterday I really couldn't see any danger for them or anyone else. 

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chrisonabike replied to BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 1 month ago
0 likes

A good point - cyclists are somewhere between pedestrians and motorcyclists (a few - electric motorcycles mainly, which are not legal) in terms of danger to others. More towards the lower end of that - certainly when it comes to "mass cycling" - should we achieve it here.

However in terms of vulnerability cyclists are just a vulnerable as pedestrians - or maybe more.

And of course we're still not properly designing for cyclists - even "world-beating" parts of the UK are 2nd class standard or less in global terms.

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ooblyboo replied to BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 1 month ago
0 likes

As a pedestrian in the City yesterday, I did notice just how many of my fellow pedestrians seem content to walk straight across a road when it is red for them. On one crossing in particular, which saw taxis, bikes and e-bikes coming around a corner (and as far as I could tell, all obeying the signals themselves), it put them in harm's way. I tend to agree that rules are rules and should be obeyed by all.

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chrisonabike replied to ooblyboo | 1 month ago
1 like

The questions would be "who / what do the rules serve?  What are we willing to pay / accept to maintain or enforce them?"

So - jaywalking: in theory it's there to keep the pedestrians safe - and spare motorists the trauma of "innocently killed".  If it saves one life...

...but we now know that in practice it actually did more to spare motorists inconvenience and shift the blame onto pedestrians for their own injuries.  (It actually did this by design, but that's a whole other sordid story - one of several in the history of mass motoring).  Plus it's debateable if it actually improved pedestrian safety at all.  Knowing "the roads were theirs" set in progress a cycle where designers were assuming none except at crosswalks, drivers were not looking out for pedestrians, speeds could be allowed to be higher etc.  And of course pedestrians were still being killed off the roads also.

I imagine it cost quite a bit to enforce also.

So - yes, we do need conventions and rules.  But people are people - so this would mean we:
 - accept rules will be variably adhered to (and perhaps acknowledge this in the rules - like we do in the Highway Code with e.g. lots of exhortations to motorists which aren't actually law).
 - bring in some pretty strong pressures to maintain compliance, which could be direct consequences / social / legal ones.  Perhaps jaywalking laws?  Perhaps those who step into the road / cycle on the pavement stand a fair chance of being shamed in the media?  Or abused and/or beaten by passers-by? Perhaps drivers can legally run over pedestrians if the green man is not showing (hmm... how different from now)?

It's not a panacea but I'd like to see more of a different approach - one we currently use a little of.  How about we also try to design out some of the problems the rules / laws are designed to prevent, plus mitigate the consequences if they are?

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Dnnnnnn replied to BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 1 month ago
3 likes

BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP wrote:

Pedestrians do it all the time - they cross whenever they choose and do not always wait for the Green light or use the crossings provided - but there is no censure or outrage

As far as I'm aware, pedestrians aren't legally required to wait for the green man.

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brooksby replied to Dnnnnnn | 1 month ago
3 likes

Dnnnnnn wrote:

BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP wrote:

Pedestrians do it all the time - they cross whenever they choose and do not always wait for the Green light or use the crossings provided - but there is no censure or outrage

As far as I'm aware, pedestrians aren't legally required to wait for the green man.

No jaywalking laws in the UK.

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Dnnnnnn replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
0 likes

brooksby wrote:

No jaywalking laws in the UK.

Almost - but apparently not quite. There are in Northern Ireland.

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Adam Sutton | 1 month ago
1 like

Good stuff. Now do it on cycleway C9 through Hammersmith to Chiswick.

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ktache | 1 month ago
5 likes

With reference to the DoTs own numbers on adherence to 20mph limits it would appear only a small minority of drivers abide by the highway code...

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MiserableBastard | 1 month ago
3 likes

ACAB.

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squired | 1 month ago
4 likes

I think anyone cycling in the City of London would freely admit that the vast majority of cyclists do indeed ignore red lights.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm the idiot for sitting there waiting while everyone else seems to sail through.

Having said the above it is disappointing how some of the changes meant to aid cyclists have probably done the opposite.  Bank junction is a perfect example.  As someone who used to work overlooking it (and thus cycled through it) for over a decade the previous format was fine after cars were banned.  The new layout and light phasing is terrible and these days I avoid cycling through it because you are guaranteed to be sitting waiting for a green light for what feels like an eternity as literally no-one is passing through the junction from any direction.

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marmotte27 replied to squired | 1 month ago
5 likes

"I think anyone cycling in the City of London would freely admit that the vast majority of cyclists do indeed ignore red lights"

Article (based on police statement) says otherwise.

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Simon E replied to squired | 1 month ago
2 likes

Red lights are frustrating but you either obey the rules or you don't. Like drivers (sorry!), you shouldn't pick and choose the rules you wish to obey.

If you are in a queue at the supermarket and see a number of people go past and steal some sweets - a victimless cime, for sure - do you decide you might as well do the same? Or will you only take home what you pay for?

Would you rob an honesty box on the roadside or (for us country folks) take a box of eggs or jar of jam without paying for it? I wouldn't but others would.

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imajez replied to Simon E | 1 month ago
2 likes

The difference here is that traffic lights are needed for cars to stop drivers causing dangerous accidents. Cyclists don't really need them. In the Netherlands after tinkering with various designs for a very busy complex junction, they removed lights and that was turned out to be the correct solution. 
Not 100% sure if this is that particular junction, but either way, the constant flow of all kinds of road users, the lack of anatagonism and how chilled folk are  is remarkable. 

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Rapha Nadal | 1 month ago
3 likes

FAO: Patricia Hodge.

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cyclisto | 1 month ago
6 likes

There are some laws that are not universal. The freedom pedestrians enjoy in UK is not ubiquitous for example on the other side of the Atlantic. The same happens for bicycles. At an increasing rate, bicycles are allowed, under certain circumstances, to cross red lights. The rate is increasing because bicycles are the most affected by red lights in energy loss from all road users (users, not vehicles) and people like to improve local air quality, reduce enviromental damage, improve citizen fitness levels blah blah blah...

So far though I don't know any country where there are free speed limits in urban areas. Yet, I see a lot of violations that with cameras would be easy to catch and profitable for the state.

Deaths of others caused by cyclists do happen, but are very rare. Deaths by excessive motor vehicle speed are much more common. I think we should focus better.

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JoanneH | 1 month ago
17 likes

What a shame that the Evening Standard's coverage leads with 'lycra lout'. I'd lay a bet that a high proportion of the red-light jumpers were not wearing lycra - delivery cyclists and people on hire bikes are, in my experience, just as if not more likely to jump a red light than commuters in lycra.

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Clem Fandango replied to JoanneH | 1 month ago
12 likes

Any piece of "journalism" that includes the phrase "lycra clad/lout" or "as a cyclist myself" within the headline or opening paragraph can instantly be discredited as culture war nonsense/ignored/laughed at.

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the little onion replied to Clem Fandango | 1 month ago
16 likes

"denim clad pedestrians" or "wool/cotton mix clad drivers" or "polyester clad scooterists" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

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Rendel Harris replied to the little onion | 1 month ago
4 likes

the little onion wrote:

"denim clad pedestrians" or "wool/cotton mix clad drivers" or "polyester clad scooterists" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

I coined the acronym MAMIPS a while ago to describe a particular type of Mondeo driving Home Counties motorist: Middle Aged Men in Polyester Slacks.

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john_smith replied to the little onion | 1 month ago
0 likes

Leather-clad motorcyclists has a nice evil ring to it though. 

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chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
1 like

john_smith wrote:

Leather-clad motorcyclists has a nice evil ring to it though. 

Apparently an erotic ring to it for some.

What about armour-clad Segway-ists though?

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I love my bike replied to Clem Fandango | 1 month ago
5 likes

Add 'push bike' to the list.

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Surreyrider replied to JoanneH | 1 month ago
2 likes

Yeah, I saw the Standard headline and thought 1 how many drivers have jumped red lights and been fined (after all they're the ones risking the most damage and destruction) and 2 whether the Standard would use a derogatory term or a more sympathetic one in the headline. 

There's also the issue of what falls under the term cyclst. There are many modified e-bikes on the roads more aking to motorbikes for example.

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Oldfatgit replied to Surreyrider | 1 month ago
0 likes

If you read the article, it tells you how many motorists were fined and or prosecuted in the same time period.

While I don't agree with the term, lycia louts is guaranteed to get readers ... cyclists not so much.

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qwerty360 | 1 month ago
5 likes

And no doubt someone will argue - "look how naughty the cyclist are"

 

While ignoring that just RLJ stats put cyclists at 2-4% over UK as a whole of offences (accidents, measured rates of road usage + rates of red light jumping).

 

London has more cyclists, so lets say its really high - that would still only be something like 20% of RLJ offences...

 

Yet fines for cyclists RLJ are ~1/2 of total for all motoring offences (not just cars RLJ)...

 

So who is it that they aren't enforcing laws against again... (because proportional enforcement would have easily 1,678 RLJ offences by motor vehicles prosecuted, ignoring everything else...)

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mitsky replied to qwerty360 | 1 month ago
3 likes

"... would have easily 1678 RLJ offences by motorists prosecuted..."
Unless the vehicles were self-driving/autonomous.

http://rc-rg.com

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