The Bolton Price Comparison Site

19 August 2013

In Bolton last week, Greater Manchester Police were out and about having a bit of a jolly old crackdown on cycling.

Well, ok. Maybe it’s fine. But let’s see how it fits into the bigger picture.

The whole business of a “crackdown” on cycling (usually pavement cycling) feels a little uncomfortable, because it can often have a knock-on effect.

For example, in late June in Spalding, police staged a crackdown on pavement cyclists in Spalding and just two working days after the start of the operation, two cyclists were injured in separate collisions. The police responded to this side-effect by stating, somewhat stubbornly, that “Operation Oatmeal will continue so we can improve road safety in Spalding for all road users.

Perhaps more disturbing was the death of Alan Neve in Holborn in July, at a cycle-unfriendly junction which many riders avoided by illegally using a bus lane, as Andy Waterman carefully points out. Neve’s death occurred, again, just days after a police crackdown on cyclists using that lane.

British infrastructure, sadly, often makes legality and safety mutually exclusive choices.

So whilst on one hand it’s pretty hard to complain about being nicked for riding illegally, when you look at the bigger picture it’s quite wrong to assume that these crackdowns are beneficial to safety.

Anyway. We’ll come back to that.

The fine for cycling across Victoria Square in Bolton was £50. If you were a bit stupid and you got nicked both on the way to work and the way home you’d be £100 lighter.

Which sort of seems a bit stiff when you compare it to the fine awarded to Ronald Finney, who—also in Bolton—drove his car with eyesight so impaired that he was medically unfit to drive. He hit a cyclist, breaking his back in four places, fracturing his skull, breaking 30 other bones, causing a brain injury and placing him on a life support machine.

Finney was fined £95.

Now, you tell me if that equates—in terms of safety—to two trips across a pedestrianised square on a bicycle.

In Bolton, getting in your car with medically defective eyesight, mowing someone down and all but killing them costs you the same as a couple of hundred yards on a bike across some paving slabs.

Who says motorists are the cash cows of British justice? They’re getting great deals on their traffic violations! Wilfully ignore your medical conditions and bring a fellow man to the brink of death and you’re paying not far off the same as someone dodging cars on their way to work.

Obviously, people getting a bollocking for breaking the law isn’t generally something that can be easily argued against. But if the aim of law enforcement is people’s net safety and wellbeing then there is a problem with pushing people away from routes that are safe—even though they are a cause of irritation to others—into the paths of drivers such as Finney, and onto woefully unfit infrastructure that sees some of them end up under the rear axle of a tipper truck. And, therefore, there is a problem with dressing this process up as a safety matter. And it’s barely comprehensible that it’s ticketed up with a price that puts it on a par with actually causing injury and death, which—and here’s the point—is precisely the thing that these people are trying to avoid.

For the police to nick people, fine, that’s their job. But be sure of one thing: a crackdown on pavement cycling is not about improving safety. It is detrimental to safety.

And if the police say otherwise, it’s time to question their evidence.


  1. Gary Dawes (@gazza_d) 19 August 2013 9:19pm #

    Top post!.

    There is Home office “guidance” that states that pavement cycling should only be targetted IF it is reckless and endangering others.

    And what about all the bloody cars that park on pavements – Have Bolton & Spalding plods been ticketing them? No, cos driving a 2 ton+ metal box onto the pavement and leaving it there often forcing people into the road is seen as socially acceptable.

    Plod are not supposed to do the popular thing but uphold the laws fairly and sensibly.

    This is all bollocks

    • radfahrarzt 22 August 2013 10:20pm #

      You are spot on Gary.
      Its easier to pick on the soft targets.
      Never mind the more than 50% of drivers who ecceed the urban speed limits by a good margin, ignore the prevailing risk factors and then finish their journey by parking all over the footath .
      Well eveyone does it so it must be ok……

  2. triptogenetica 29 August 2013 2:09pm #

    Crystal clear reasoning as always; good stuff.

    The police in Bolton even had a leaflet with the text “Sharing the road” “Dicing with death?”. This seems to be part of Greater Manchester Police’s “Operation Dice”. Seems to be aimed squarely at drivers, but they’ve obviously failed to see the implications for cyclists. If they’re serious that sharing the road is dicing with death, at least for more vulnerable road users, then what sane person wouldn’t cycle off road where possible?

  3. Ivorcadaver 30 August 2013 2:05pm #

    Blimey, I wasn’t aware of this. I live in Bolton and often cycle very slowly across Victoria Square. Yes I know its an offence but I also believe its illegal to be drunk in a pub. Some common sense please! and how many motorists get prosecuted for stopping in ASLs (nil I suspect as when I wrote and asked the new Manchester Police Commissioner the response was ‘they don’t collect the statistics’ yeah I’m sure…..

  4. John F 9 April 2015 11:50am #

    Belfast is getting a bike rental scheme, which will be operational in a few days. Annual subscription is £20 and you only pay more if you use your bike for more than 1/2 an hour, so lunchtimes are going to be interesting. Belfast’s city centre has very few useful cycle lanes and lots of one-way systems, so I foresee lots of people cycling on the footway because most people simply don’t know the details of the highway code. Those who do know will generally make a risk assessment of getting nicked vs sharing a bus lane with buses or getting rear-ended by drivers who stop inside the ASL boxes.

  5. Dave Holladay 26 May 2015 1:40pm #

    Alan Neve was travelling from Poplar to Soho, and was coming West along High Holborn, not Theobalds Road. He would either have gone straight over Kingsway or turned down to make a right turn on to Long Acre to head West towards Soho, rather than turn North to use Bloomsbury Way.

    The CCTV recording from the truck showed Alan and other cyclists who had the green light from High Holborn filtering past the truck which had run through the red signal on Proctor Street, and was blocking the box junction.

    It has taken 18 months to get the Traffic Commissioner to review the failure of the Operator Alan John Drummond (hence vanity reg S 77 DHL in truck?) and transport manager Colin Drummond, called in to explain their failure to deliver due diligence on their undertakings to maintain records of drivers and vehicles under their control to ensure both were fit to be operating on the public road. This has only arisen because both LCC and TfL Cycle Safety Unit have written to the Traffic Commissioner requesting this case is considered.

    Drummond holds a standard national licence (blue disc seen in windscreen on pictures from crash scene) and has a licence for up to 5 trucks, from a base which has moved around East London frequently since he first obtained an O licence.

    Worth making regular checks on the fortnightly Applications & Decisions published by the Traffic Commssioner (London & SE Area) to see when Drummond appears as an entry, in Section 5 (Disciplinary hearings and determinations)

  6. severs1966 2 June 2015 1:11pm #

    “precisely the thing that these people are trying to avoid.”

    You seem to labour under the assumption that the Police are trying to avoid injury or death to people when they happen to be on bikes.

    I’m not sure what it is like in the area policed by your local constabulary, but in my neck o’th’woods, the Police attitude to bike riders is somewhere between disdain and outright hostility.

    Keep in mind that most cops patrol in cars and fall into the same traps of irrational bike-hating as Jo Average.

    Motorcyclists can usually pause at this point in a tirade of vitriol and add “except motorbike cops”… Sadly, I cannot add “except bicycle cops” because those are an irrelevantly tiny population.

  7. Si 10 May 2016 3:02pm #

    Operation Considerate had a similar effect in Manchester (I think 2 cyclists died after it was first started). There is too much coincidence here?

    The question is though, how are all these cyclists being fined when they have no license plate or driving license. Oh yeah, perhaps because neither are in any way relevant to enforcement.

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