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Red lights, cycling helmets and the police

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Tom Edwards Tom Edwards | 10:25 UK time, Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A very good friend of mine was pulled over by the police for shooting a red light on his bike.

Boris Johnson Cycle Helmet

Now, yes, he broke the law of the land and took his punishment like the hardy Scotsman that he is, but if you stand at most red lights in London you will see many cyclists doing the same.

In fact, the Mayor Boris Johnson has been filmed doing it himself. So it's not uncommon.

This time not only was he sternly told off by the police, he was also told his helmet and his bike were not safe enough to be cycling with.

Is that a new thing?

Are the Metropolitan Police now able to tell when a bike is safe, or indeed have the police been briefed on the controversial debate about helmets?

Is all of that, part of the training now at Hendon?

In my friend's words the officer described his helmet thus: "It's cr*p, look at the state of you. If a car hit you, it would come right off."

Anyway, I digress slightly.

I did wonder if there was a crackdown by police on cyclists jumping red lights.

Transport for London said, yes, there was a crackdown ahead of the launch of the bike hire scheme.

The press release says:

"The Mayor, Boris Johnson, Transport for London (TfL) and the capital's police forces are stepping up the number of operations targeting cyclists and drivers who disobey the rules of the road.

Over the coming months, police will regularly target key locations across the capital to crackdown on road users who disobey traffic signals, encroach on advance stop lines, cycle carelessly or on pavements, or use their mobile phones."

The old spin alert kicked off a bit at that so I thought I'd chase it up further.

Our Home Affairs producer Nick Beake called the Met and initially they were none the wiser.

However, once we sent them the press release from TfL they did say:

"In Westminster, Strand and Whitehall, Safer Neighbourhoods Team is supporting these operations by patrolling the streets around Trafalgar Square to tackle anyone using the road in a dangerous and irresponsible manner and to hand out advice to cyclists/motorists about the sensible cycling/driving.

Officers will also be on hand to offer crime prevention advice to bike owners, around cycle security and not becoming a victim of cycle theft."

They also sent us the latest figures about the extent of the issue.

These are the number of cyclists issued with Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) of upto £60 in Westminster. Many more get a dressing down, as happened to my friend.

  • In 2008/09 - 1051
  • In 2009/10 - 2225

So in just one year the number of offences by cyclists in Westminster where a FPN was issued has gone up by 112%.

That's even before this latest crackdown started...

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