Enforcement?

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1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 cars in ten minutes use the cycle lane in Shelford Road, Trumpington (08:30-08:40 Friday 5 March 1999).

Over some years I have encountered severe problems with vehicles obstructing a cycle lane on my daily journey from Stapleford to the city centre. I have written to both police and local authority on several occasions but rarely have I seen any enforcement (see To Bang or not to Bang in Newsletter 9). I have failed to get a satisfactory response from letters to the police and I know from I am not alone in finding this lack of response a problem. I have even encountered an officer in a police car who said no offence was being committed!

Although offences have reduced over the years, on all days when queues exist drivers can be seen using the cycle lane. On occasions when vehicles in the cycle lane are stalled by the adjacent queue I may politely say to drivers ‘Excuse me, but you are obstructing a cycle lane and that is an offence.’ Recently a driver’s response was to move so as to obstruct totally my passage, so I noted his number and reported him to Parkside police station.

‘…You MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line…’

I was told that no action could be taken unless I could give the name an address of another witness, although another cyclist, who resorted to cycling down the pavement, was also going to report the driver. I did obtain an incident number, and I gather this in itself is an achievement.

I thought I had lost yet another battle, but later that evening I had a visit from an officer who restored my damaged faith. He cycles into Cambridge and although the city is not his patch, he had seen the incident report, and decided to follow it up. He said he would visit and warn the motorist I reported and would also attempt to monitor the cycle lane. He has given fixed penalty tickets to cars parked in the Shelford section of this lane.

The following day, I photographed twelve cars using the cycle lane in ten minutes, some of them travelling for some 200 m down the lane. There is clearly still either widespread ignorance or contempt amongst motorists of cycle lane law and rule 119 of the new Highway Code (95 in the previous version) in particular …You MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line…

What’s the moral?

Complain. Although the system may not be sympathetic to complaints from cyclists, some officers are. If enough individuals report infringements, the system will have to take some action. The Campaign may make some progress with persuading the police to treat complaints such as mine seriously, but this is more likely if we all report locations where there is constant abuse of regulations.

I feel the best police action at some of these locations would be a day or two of warnings followed by fixed penalty tickets. Only by this action will motorists start to respect the space that has been allocated to cyclists to make their journeys safer.

Jim Chisholm