Monday, 9 May 2011

Increase in Anti Social Cycling ?

Short answer: No.

The Cambridge Evening News Reports:

The police report for Cambridge City Council’s west/central area committee said 2,025 incidents of anti-social cycling took place between December 2010 and March 2011, compared with 1,529 incidents during the same period the previous year.
Cyclists were caught by officers for riding anti-socially – for example, along the pavement or the wrong way along a one-way street or cycling without lights.

Police have created a new city centre squad to tackle the problems and have warned if cyclists persist in dangerous cycling they will be dealt with robustly.

Chief Insp Dave Sargent said: “With extra officers policing the city centre it is only natural that the number of people caught committing this kind of behaviour will also increase.

Read the full story here (if you want to increase their hit count)

Oh dear. Another story to fuel the ignorance and generate a few more page hits and profit. Damn I am fuelling that again.

The main point here is that cycling offences is not going up, just the amount of monitoring. To be fair, the CEN do put in a tiny bit of balance like the quote from the Chief Inspector but these kinds of quotes are always lost near the bottom of the article.

If the author, Raymond Brown, had done 10 minutes of Googling, he could add something more to this story rather than churning out another copy and paste story.

If you want to read the source report, that is here: West/Central area profile April 2011 (PDF 408Kb). The relevant paragraph is on page 10:

Approximately 2,025 incidents of anti-social cycling occurred between
December 2010 and March 2011, compared with approximately 1,529
incidents during the same period the previous year. Hotspots during the
2010/11 period included Sidney Street with 481 (compared with 356 during
the 2009/10 period), Bridge Street with 325 (compared with 260
previously), Trinity Street with 298 (compared with 281 previously), Market
Street with 288 (compared with 186 previously) and Petty Cury with 237
(compared with 178 previously).

What a shame the numbers are not broken down further into the type of offence. If they were then perhaps the councillors could more easily home in on the problems and help to fix them. To be honest though, I doubt they are that interested in anti-social cycling once they read the rest of the report - about the violent crime, burglaries and needles left lying about in their ward. The recommended priorities are actually: alcohol related anti-social behaviour and cycle crime (ie cycle theft). A logical and correct solution in my opinion.

The eight police officers and six PCSOs ... and will crack down on night-time crime hotspots, cycle crime and retail offences.

If you've ever wondered about PCSOs, what follows is part of my 10 minutes spent Googling:

The Police have handily answered a question I had on my mind:

Given that PCSOs can deal with anti-social cycling such as riding on footpaths, can they deal with anti-social parking on footpaths and cycle lanes?

In Cambridgeshire, all our PCSOs are also appointed as traffic wardens and have full traffic warden powers. However, in some areas, illegal parking is the responsibility of the local authority. In these areas, PCSOs are unable to intervene, however they do work closely with the local authority to address problem areas. PCSOs using their traffic warden powers can and do issue fixed penalty tickets for offences such as vehicles being left in dangerous positions, obstructing the highway, certain yellow line offences or parking a goods vehicle on footpath. The law is very limiting in what it allows a PCSOs, even using traffic warden powers, to do with cycle lanes. For example at the moment our PCSOs cannot stop or ticket someone for driving in a cycle lane.

If you want to know what powers a PCSO has in Cambridge, handily rtaylor put in a Freedom of Information request to find out: Powers of PCSOs in Cambridgeshire

From what I understand, a PCSO can write tickets for cyclists and pedestrians, but if you are anti-social and moving in your motor car they can jolly well demand your name and address.

Parking offences are dealt with by PCSO where they are dangerous or obstructing, and for others the local authority deal with them. The Cambridge Cycle Campaign has long been trying to get somebody to issue tickets to mandatory cycle lane offenders but is failing.
[source] [source2]

I also wonder about traffic policing. I heard somewhere that Cambridgeshire has six traffic officers. It sounds unbelievable and I can't find a source for that. Mind you, I can't think when I last saw a traffic patrol car, but I do recall seeing them mostly on the motorway. They could be hanging out in unmarked cars though [optimistic].

When I am cycling, what really affects me on a daily basis is close passing and excessive speed whilst overtaking on out 40mph+ roads. Very occasionally you get close passing and speed combined which is at the very least extremely anti-social. I wish that could be targeted to balance out the policing effort.

Unfortunately, moving offences are exactly what the modern police force is not able to deal with effectively. What they do deal with is the yes/no offence. Was the driver speeding ? Seatbelt ? Mobile Phone ? Insurance ?

I've often wondered if there should be a maximum speed that an cyclist or pedestrian can be passed at. It would be clear what is unacceptable, and also the police could (rarely) enforce this with their excellent and existing radar guns. This would be somewhat easier to enforce than 3 Feet Please. I don't actually like that campaign, three feet is not enough at 60mph - it feels like you've just been shot at.

From the outraged comments you get in the CEN section you would imagine that there would be carnage on the streets of Cambridge due to the amount bikes with no lights and the amount of red light jumping. It is just not born out in the statistics. Students are obviously quite capable of assessing the level of danger to themselves. From what I see, where there are plenty of street lights you see plenty of no-(or hardly working)-light offenders, but where there are few street lights you see everybody with lights. There is no trail of cyclist-road-kill.

Red light jumpers (RLJ) have self preservation in mind and what I witness in Cambridge is not the London style of RLJ, it is mostly cyclists going through crossings after the pedestrian has crossed, plus cyclists using pedestrian phases to gain an advantage. If it is so dangerous to cross out of turn, perhaps it is time we controlled pedestrians too and clamp down on Jaywalking? (no I didn't really mean that, it would be ridiculous!)

The one way streets around Cambridge City centre are confusing to a new arrival and the one way signs are lost in a sea of bright lights and advertising boards, over zealous signage, pedestrians and other street furniture and if confused you will just copy what others do. It just doesn't surprise me that there are one-way offences. They don't appear to be particularly dangerous however.

My experience of policing is that, if I exclude fixed (and therefore predictable) speed cameras, my chances of being caught offending are equal when cycling, motorcycling and driving. The trouble is, I can do a lot more damage with a motor vehicle and prevention and prosecution should reflect that.

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