Bike action needs to be long term
Saturday 19th October 2013, 4:00PM BST.
POLICE crackdowns are rarely popular. They invariably involve what many would regard as harassment, albeit low-level, and a degree of inconvenience to those caught up in them. And no one wants to be stopped by the cops.
Yet the latest initiative to make sure that cyclists are properly lit is not only proportionate, it is to be welcomed.
Before the clocks change and the weather worsens it is timely to remind cyclists that they have a legal duty to be seen while on the roads.
There can be few motorists who over the years have not had a scare involving an unlit bike. Add dark clothing and driving rain and the cyclists become virtually invisible until a car or vehicle is on top of them.
It is so potentially dangerous that it is baffling to anyone bar the cyclist why they take the risk. Yet it is often only when cyclist becomes motorist and experiences their own first near miss behind the wheel that the penny finally drops.
So police finding the time proactively to try to educate cyclists on the risks they are taking is a good example of community coppering and one to be encouraged.
The message is also quite compelling: pay a £40 fixed-penalty fine if you’re nicked or else spend about half that by going to a participating cycle shop and buying a set of lights that are then certificated as meeting legal requirements.
It’s a compelling argument and one virtually guaranteed to produce long-lasting safety benefits.
Nevertheless, the individuals initially targeted in the initiative were largely office workers leaving Town at the end of the day and therefore more mature and sensible cyclists.
The biggest problem is with older schoolchildren and young adults who are not commuter traffic and therefore much more scattered.
Police have said that they will be checking schools and the PR effect of that and the campaign launch should be positive.
However, unless the word gets around the main offenders that it really isn’t worth the risk of cycling without lights, a good initiative will fail.
To be effective, this has to be community policing for the long haul.