Cambridge Cycling Campaign Question Commissioner Bright on Cyclist Crackdown

Thursday, January 17th, 2013. 1:16am

On the 10th of January 2013 Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner took public questions for the first time since his election in November 2012 during an appearance at Cambridge’s West/Central Area Committee.

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign submitted a question:

The Committee of Cambridge Cycling Campaign wishes to raise the issue of enforcement of dangerous driving and on cyclists breaking the law. Sadly none of us are able to be here tonight as we have our own Committee meeting tonight.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign supports efforts to tackle illegal cycling. Our website has a clear policy statement on this and most recently we have supported the police’s L.I.T. enforcement campaign which has seen an increase in enforcement against those without lights.

However, there is a large amount of dangerous driving in the city. Sir Graham will be aware that the STATS19 data collected by the police shows that collisions and deaths caused by cyclists are extremely rare – instead caused by dangerous driving. Stand outside the police station and you will see not only cyclists without lights but drivers on their phones and shooting through lights turning red and so on.

We are therefore puzzled at why cyclists seem to have been singled out as the first priority of the PCC. Evidence-based policing would surely mean most resources being used to tackle activity causing the most danger to the public.

Would you agree that both illegal cycling and dangerous driving should be tackled, and that the balance between these should reflect the relative level of danger shown in the STATS19 collision data?

Commissioner Graham Bright replied:

Yeah well I reacted to the Cambridge Cycle Campaign anyway because they were flagging this up about err cyclists.

Ermm there’s more to come.

Err in terms of looking at dangerous driving.

I would agree that probably the most dangerous thing are motorists using mobile phones and even texting whilst they are driving. I mean that is just a horrendous accident waiting to happen; and we’ve had accidents in different parts of the country on that.

I am so surprised that so few people have been called in for doing it because you’ve only got to stand alongside the road and see it yourself. I see it when I’m driving. So that has got to be dealt with.

All motorists have got to be disciplined.

Motorists parking on the pavement is something which causes a lot of problems. Pedestrians have to go into the road. Cyclists have to come off their cycle lane and out into the road. So it seams harmless, “oh I’ll just park there”, for two minutes but in that two minutes you can cause mayhem.

And so you know the whole question of people recognising what the rules and regulations are, recognising what the law is about, and actually behaving themselves. In some incidences there are even pedestrians that cause accidents as well by running across the lights just before .. they’ve changed and they’re still running across. Everyone has got a part to play in making our roads safe. I mean I am pleased the question of cyclists without lights seems to have had a big impact because I saw one tonight walking here from the car park but it was at one time very common, so I think we’ve raised the profile of that. One without lights, not one with lights, one without. It was one with lights at one time. I take their point, we’re not just looking at cyclists, it just so happens that was the first thing out of the hatch.

We’ve got to make sure that motorists as well, because I’m quite concerned that Cambridge is an attraction for tourists. It was interesting earlier on, some of the comments about tourists and visitors, that’s not going to diminish, it’s going to increase certainly with the Duke and Duchess, it’s raised the profile big time of Cambridge and Cambridge is beautiful city, and its nice to see people enjoying it but we want them to enjoy that safely and it’s up to visitors and those who live here to just obey the laws. Simple as that.

My View

The Commissioner hasn’t really addressed the question. He has not explained why he has decided to order a crackdown on dangerous cyclists in Cambridge rather than at least also setting a priority to tackle dangerous driving of motor vehicles.

Much of the Commissioner’s “answer” addressed points which were tangential to the question.

I would like to see policing efforts focused on behaviours which risk causing injuries and deaths.

Cambridge needs more, and better targeted, roads policing. One key problem I think we have is that we have PCSOs patrolling the city without powers to deal with things like driving while using a mobile phone, or dangerous and careless driving. I agree with Commissioner Bright that anyone walking in the City can see drivers on their mobile phones. I would like to see more PCs rather than PCSOs patrolling so that such offences can be tackled; I would also like to see specialist traffic police operating in the city to tackle the full spectrum of motoring offences.

I would have liked to see a commissioner come to councillors at the area committee and make clear to them that enforcement can only one, relatively small, part of what’s needed to make the city’s roads safer. I would have liked to see him urge councillors to ensure signage is clear and well maintained and to continue investment in infrastructure intended to improve safety such as new cycle routes and improving junctions to make them safer for cyclists.

Better information on accidents, and injuries, could if provided to councillors at area committees help them make informed decisions on police priorities and on spending money on improvements to city’s roads.

Councillors, and the public, ought have access to information from the courts on the outcome of cases where there have been incidents involving cyclists in the city. I would like accident investigation reports prepared by the police to be made public, and where relevant reported to councillors, their intended purpose and audience needs to change and the focus ought move away from solely being to support a prosecution but to also inform our decisions on changes to the city’s roads and how our traffic laws are enforced.

In the rare cases where deaths of cyclists occur on Cambridge’s streets the inquest process ought be truly public and its findings ought feed into decision making aimed at preventing recurrence of similar incidents.

I also would have liked to see the commissioner recognise that as Cambridge grows a key way to avoid traffic gridlock is to ensure cycling is a safe and attractive option.

Lastly my view is the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have no relevance to the question asked.

7 comments/updates on “Cambridge Cycling Campaign Question Commissioner Bright on Cyclist Crackdown

  1. Paul Lythgoe

    I have commented elsewhere about the content of Sir Grahams website, or rather the lack of content. This year he has posted just one peice on dangerous cycling and he links to the 2011 Cambridgeshire Joint Road Casualty Data Report. He uses the report to justify dangerous cycling, one presumes he is either deliberately or ignorantly misreading the data and misleading his constituents. The data maes no refernce to causes of accidents it just maps the type of transport involved in the accidents. You cannot conclude from this document that the issue in Cambridge is dangerous cyclists, you can, however, conclude that as a cyclist in Cambridge you are more likely to be the victim of an accident (60%) than any other transport mode. Given the emphasis on the dangers cyclists present to pedestrians there is an interesting stat that would suggest that the PCC and Cambs police campaign is poorly targeted. In Fig 7.4 of the document we can see that of 12 towns within Cambridgeshire Cambridge has the 2nd lowest accident rate for pedestrians at 12% and 4.2 accidents per10,0000 of population. Perhaps you could conclude from this that pedestrians are safer in Cambridge than in the other towns because of the higher level of journeys made within the city centre by bike.
    There is a comprehensive article on Sir Graham Bright statement at The comments are interesting particularly Cauld Lubster an old constituent of our ex-Luton MP.

  2. Paul Lythgoe

    Sir Graham Bright was on Radio Cambridge again today peddling his crackdown on cycling and cyclists in Cambridge. The tone is the same cycling is the problem for Cambridge, and not something to be properly accomodated and promoted. As ever his words are content light and based on no more than subjective judgements. As ever he uses the phrase that he is “looking” at the issues. In doing so he might be advised to back up his judgements not by indivual anecdotes, but by fully quantified statistics that are available to him. Today “looking” at the issues means standing outside Parkside with a number of Specials. He jokes that they felt it was not appropriate, or dangerous, for him to get on his bike. Perhaps he would have been better placed to understand why cyclists behave as they do by actually cycling through Cambridge. He could, for example, have cycled a few hundred yards along Mill Road to understand just how little room cyclists are given on this narrow road.

    Sir Graham supports his position on the basis that this was the most frequently raised issue during his campaigning in Cambridge. My recollection of his Cambridge campaign was on morning in market square where he spent sometime trying to ignore a prima donna! It would be good to understand preciesly how many people have raised any issues with him, and how many raised issues of cyclists. His campaign in Cambridge was I believe pretty unsuccessfull coming third with less than 2.5% of the electorate. It would also be interesting to know how many visited him for his Cambridge surgery held in Cambourne, and how many raised the issue of cycling.

    He continues to talk about anti-social behaviour as a priority. He uses this as a catch all and has never properly defined what he means, and how he differentiates this from criminal acts. I am not clear how he can discuss putting policeman on the beat, and at the same time dismiss the closure of a police station as an operational matter outside his remit. It would seem that issues with which he is uncomfortable are operational, for example Tasers. I guess the Cheif constable will be relatively happy that Sir Graham concerns himself with Parish councils and cycling while he gets on with the more difficult jobs that policing entails including major traffic incidents, drug dealing, thefts, violence, and murder.

    Sir Graham has delivered and had passed his budget, despite some misleading elements within it. His budget states that it is to support his policing plan, but this has yet to be published. I am sure we all look forward to the benefit of his extended research.

  3. Paul Lythgoe

    P.S. I note that the Prince of Wales is visiting Cambridge on Monday – perhaps this prompted Sir Graham to visit Cambridge today to ensure that the cities cyclists would be properly deferential. After all it is the visits of the royal personages that makes Cambridge truly great. Nothing to do with its past, its people, or its truly great buildings.

  4. Paul Lythgoe

    On the subject of the dangers of cycling in Cambridge and the wider county Paul Hollinghurst has made a freedom of information request first to the PCC, then to Cambridge Constabulary and finally to the County Council who provided some of the requested data.

    Whether Sir Graham Bright has actually seen this data can be a matter for conjecture but it has clearly not been instrumental in forming his views on cracking down on dangerous cyclists. The FOI response states,

    “During the five years 2007-2011 inclusive, six pedestrians were seriously injured in collisions with pedal cyclists in Cambridgeshire, five of these collisions occurred in Cambridge City. During the same period 45 pedestrians were slightly injured in collisions with pedal cyclists in Cambridgeshire, 40 of these 45 slight injuries occurred in Cambridge City.
    One of the serious injuries (that happened outside of Cambridge City) occurred when a cyclist was cycling on a pavement. Seven of the 40 slight injuries that occurred in Cambridge City involved a cyclists cycling on the pavement, as did two of the five slight injuries that occurred elsewhere in Cambridgeshire.”

    During the same period they reveal pedestrians were 7 times more likely to be seriously injured by a car and 4 times more likely to be slightly injured. In addition only 17% of pedestrian injuries caused by cyclists occurred on the pavement. Fault is not established within these stats, but the suggestion is that this information has been withheld.
    As a cyclist you are 18 times more likely to be seriously injured by a car than you are likely to cause injury to a pedestrian. You are also 20 times (872 incidents) more likely to be slightly injured. All these figures suggest that the framing of the debate from Sir Graham Bright is wrong and misleading. Both pedestrians and cyclists are more vunerable to death and injury from car users than they are from themselves. The figures suggest that there are no more than 10 reported injuries to pedestrians from cyclists per year despite the fact that cycling in Cambridge City compares to China according to Sir Graham. Given the mixed use of many of our pavements I would suggest that actually cyclists and pedestrians co-habit reasonably well given the high number of both in the City centre.

  5. Philip Shore

    For clarity, the STATS19 dataset does not distinguish between footway and shared-use for pedestrian casualties. [It does make this distinction for cyclist casualties]. I think it would be useful to learn if any particular pavements are problematic for pedestrians and validate and add weight to their anecdotal claims. With this information the Police could usefully target their resources.

    If somebody knows how to plot points over OpenCycleMap (shows shared-use paths) I can supply the locations of the pedestrian-cycle accidents.

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