I saw something quite unusual today as I walked from Waterloo to my firm’s London office and perhaps is a sign that cyclists can no longer ‘expect’ to be exempt from the same laws that plenty of motorists fall foul of every day.
Walking across Blackfriar’s Bridge I was aware that an unusually large contingent of cycling commuters (no better indication needed that the economic downturn is forcing some people to take to their bikes regardless of roadworthiness) had stopped at a redlight – let’s face it there are always the odd few that will go through them. A few paces further on and it became clear why.
A female police cyclist (POLICE emblasoned right across her backside was a nice touch!) was lying in wait to catch unwitting perpetrators jumping the lights. Sadly for her though, she hadn’t reckoned on how quick they were speeding past her and how quick they put the hammer down thereafter when she shouted “Oi” rather loudly. Jumping off the pavement into the road to stop a crim cyclist, probably wasn’t the most logical thing either – the traffic lights were red for a reason Mrs police lady, ma’am!
That is not an anti-authority remark, just an observation that they may need to review their stinger tactics (or recruit heavily!).
Further along the road, I did witness her colleague dishing out a ticket to a chap on his rather neglected road bike, though for what offence I do not know. So is the ‘humble’ cyclist now the focus on new persecution, do the police see the inevitable rise in the number of cyclists on our capital’s streets as an easy (I say easy!) way of meeting stringent targets they are no doubt forced to meet, or is it simply that as a cyclist you should be observing the same laws as every other road user has to in that situation?
Quite possibly it is all three, it is certainly the latter. I would well imagine (and I’d support this view) that the Police probably see this as a way of also educating the cycling fraternity at large of the dangers to them and other road users.
There’s no doubting that as cyclists we remain one of the most vulnerable groups of all road users (why is it then that so many still don’t wear helments? – mini rant) but in my view when you are on the road you should be expected to observe the rules of the road regardless of whether you are on two wheels or four. That said, I know of a recent incident involving a cyclist where they have ended up the aggressor in the authority’s eyes despite quite clearly being the innocent party. So perhaps cyclists just can’t win either way?
So what do you think? Personally, I would happily dip my own genitalia in burning chip fat before cycling through London (I was knocked off my bike three times on a previous (reasonably safe you’d think) commute to Esher) so I can’t comment, but I know there are a few of us out there that do. Perhaps I’m being overly critical, but anything that ultimately deters the risk takers and the madmen, has got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?