CROYDON COMMENTARY: Earlier this week, another cyclist was killed on the roads of south London, this time after a collision involving a local authority dust cart. When it comes to traffic control, KRISTIAN GREGORY, pictured left, believes the police have their priorities wrong
Earlier this month, I was pulled over by a PCSO on the New Kent Road while riding a bike along the designated shared pavement and given a £50 fine. The incident was captured on my helmet camera and on seeing the footage, Mark Williams, the cabinet member for transport for Southwark, asked the Southwark borough commander to stop carrying out enforcement there.
Jenny Jones, the London Assembly member, raised my case as an example of over-zealous policing with Matt Bell, the head of roads and transport policing, who has in turn sympathised with my case and suggested that I challenge the fine.
However, the fine has not been cancelled and I face a court case and legal costs ranging from £400 up to £2,000, depending on whether the case is dropped before going to court or not.
It is clear that such penalties are reliant upon the recipient accepting the fine, as it pales in comparison to the cost of challenging it. Few carry cameras, as I do, to use in their defence.
Pavements are not nice places to cycle. They are poorly surfaced, give way at side roads, are cluttered by lamp posts and signs and often blocked by pedestrians. So if at a given location a significant number of people are choosing to cycle on a pavement, then something has gone seriously wrong with the alternative.
When the one-way system at Upper Norwood was introduced, the Croydon Cycling Campaign opposed it. Speeding by motor vehicles is now commonplace, making the roads very dangerous. The one-way system forces cyclists around it, causing significant detours.
We were ignored and the inevitable has happened. People are trying to avoid going around the one-way system on a bike because it is inconvenient and very dangerous. Now the police are looking to fine people £50 for a situation that was imposed on them to their detriment.
This is the law, from the Highway Act 1835 that the Crystal Palace Policing team plans to fine people for:
If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon.
The fixed penalty notice for this offence was introduced by Paul Boateng in 1999 and he provided the following guidance for its application.
The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required
It is clear that targeting cyclists who are using the pavement to avoid dangerous roads around the Upper Norwood Triangle is not an appropriate use of this police power.
On Twitter, several people questioned Sergeant Diane Hill on how their priorities are decided, and raised some valid questions.
• Why was this policing team ignoring ministerial advice on the application of this power?
• Why were no cyclists consulted before deciding to go ahead with this action?
• Why isn’t roads policing determined by harm caused, using collision statistics?
The response to these questions?
At present, cycling is a mode of transport only used by a small group of people due to the dangers that make it an unappealing choice. I’m sure Diane Hill wouldn’t dream of increasing the number of stop and searches carried out on a minority ethnic group at the whim of a panel of white people, so why is it acceptable to do the equivalent thing with another kind of minority group?
The Crystal Palace policing team needs seriously to rethink how they determine their policing priorities. While they tackle cycling on the pavement, a problem which the council created and the council should fix, there are far more worthwhile things they could be doing.
Last year, Kremena Mersinkova was killed while walking on the pavement in Purley by Thomas Lee, who was driving at 50mph. Lee was high on cocaine, lost control of his car, mounted the pavement and struck her.
Our local policing teams must regain their sense of perspective.
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema: Tracks, July 24
- Lives Not Knives beer fund-raiser, July 24
- Fragile, Spread Eagle Theatre, July 24-26
- CODA’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Wandle Park, Jul 30-Aug 2
- David Lean Cinema: Locke, July 31
- Mind-Loosening Workshop, Aug 2
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Aug 2
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Aug 4
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 6
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 13
- Mind-Loosing Workshop, Aug 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Aug 16
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 20
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 27
- Upper Norwood Library well-being groups, Aug 30
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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