Mandatory Cycle Lanes

22nd September 2005

Dear Sir

A letter from a reader expresses confusion over enforcement of regulations regarding cycle lanes. This issue does not confuse me, or Cambridge Cycling Campaign.

In the last year we have had correspondence with Government Departments, the Police, and other Agencies over the Law and Enforcement of such lanes.

It is true that currently Civilian Parking Enforcement Officers, our new ‘Traffic Wardens’ have no powers over those who park or drive in Mandatory Cycle Lanes. They can only deal with infringements of ‘yellow line’ regulations.

The Highway Code is clear about the Law, as it says:

You MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during its time of operation”.

Any driver infringing this rule is liable to a fine. Yet apparently no agency is effectively enforcing this rule, and this is not just a Cambridge issue, so it is not our Local Authority that is to blame.

Police, both local and traffic officers that I have spoken to seem unsure of the law, and consider that parking enforcement is no longer their responsibility, as now ‘Local Authority Parking Enforcement’ enables Civilian Officers to undertake that task.

It isn’t just cycle lanes that fall into this black hole, as I’ve seen Police Officers ignore other serious offences where there is similar confusion.

Similarly, enforcement against cycling offences is almost non-existent. We want to see much greater levels of enforcement against these and other traffic offences.

The recent Traffic Management Act will, we hope, eventually give suitable powers to Civilian Officers and close many of these gaps, but Government has told us that the section of the Act that extends powers to many such infringements is unlikely to be enabled either this year or next!

So it isn’t confusing, it’s simple: one set of Officers know it is illegal but have no powers of enforcement, and another set of Officers are not so sure, and don’t think it is their responsibility.

Of course both sets of Officers are under-staffed, yet without them lax, illegal, and positively dangerous behaviour by road users causes congestion, puts vulnerable road users at risk, and makes our city a far less pleasant place in which to live and work.

Jim Chisholm
Cambridge Cycling Campaign