Cyclists in Salisbury have been warned that they could face fines for riding against a new one-way system, after police in the cathedral city say they “almost instantly” stopped a commuter flouting the traffic regulation during a targeted operation earlier this week, while branding the behaviour of both delivery cyclists and the general public “incredibly dangerous”.
However, the crackdown has been criticised by cyclists in Salisbury, with many questioning the police’s claim that using an alternative route would add “less than a minute” to journey times, while one social media user told the officers to “grow up” and questioned whether “cyclists are the most obvious issue” currently facing travel in the city.
Fisherton Street, a key route into Salisbury city centre, was transformed earlier this year into a temporary one-way system, as part of improvement works on Fisherton Gateway that will last until next summer and, Wiltshire Council says, “enhance the public realm and improve pedestrian areas”, making it “easier, safer, and more convenient to travel by foot into the city centre”.
However, Salisbury Police took to social media earlier this week to announce that, despite the ongoing roadworks, people on bikes “are still cycling against the one-way system leaving the city centre” and that an operation was carried out to crack down on such riding.
“This is both delivery cyclists and the general public,” the police said. “This is incredibly dangerous.
“Officers today visited Fisherton Street and almost instantly stopped a commuter cycling the wrong way. If this issue continues, fixed penalty notes will be given out to prevent this practice.
“Cyclists can use Crane Bridge Road; this only adding less than a minute to leave the city.”
While the police’s post and threat of fines was applauded by most Facebook users – with many claiming that cyclists “don’t think the rules of the road apply to them” – others were critical of the force’s actions.
“Yeah, because cyclists are the most obvious current issue facing travel in Salisbury,” one commenter said. “Grow up. There are real crimes unsolved and unpunished.”
“I agree with parts of this post,” another said. “But suggesting that the diversion only adds one minute to a journey is farcical.”
“All the multiple road works make Salisbury impossible, and I don’t actually blame people for wanting to cycle the wrong way! Sometimes I feel like driving the wrong way,” a motorist added, while another claimed that while “rules are rules”, the lack of a cycle lane towards the city centre has made life difficult for people commuting on bikes.
This type of police operation, targeting rule-breaking cyclists and usually accompanied by a social media post, is of course nothing new.
In September, Police in Scotland carried out a ‘Vulnerable Road User’ initiative which saw four cyclists fined in Edinburgh for riding through red lights.
The operation, which also saw cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers “spoken to and given advice” appeared to take place at a pedestrian crossing in the Scottish capital, with Roads Policing Scotland explaining that four cyclists and one driver were fined for going through red lights.
And in February 2022, police in Hackney said they had caught 18 cyclists jumping red lights in 90 minutes, each getting a £50 fine and a road safety lecture.
A week later questions were asked after another force, this time in Manchester, was keen to highlight its crackdown on people using bicycles riding through reds. Like the action in Salisbury this week, the Manchester post attracted a significant number of responses questioning why the force is “prioritising” less dangerous offences, while others called for a more effective use of police resources.
A campaign group dedicated to making the A56 in the north-west of England safer for all road users also suggested there are “far more serious” dangers on the road that police should be looking to target.
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.