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.
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.