I read in the ever excellent road.cc that Thames Valley police are issuing on the spot fines for cyclists with no lights in Oxford.
At first sight, fining cyclists for not using lights might seem fair. But when you consider the dangers that cyclists face on the road every day, and the aggressive and irresponsible behaviour from motorists, pedestrians and others, this is not fair.
During my time cycling, I have been spat at, had stuff thrown at me, had a taxi driver nearly drive into me in a cycle lane and faced all sorts of other anti-social behaviour. Perhaps Thames Valley police might look at these other types of incidents before they start throwing the book at cyclists.
Cyclists without lights are a soft target. It may be unlawful but it’s hardly murder. Most cyclists with no lights are more of a danger to themselves rather than other road users. Perhaps Thames Valley police might like to look at the figures in their county for cyclists killed or seriously injured on the road. I read in the Oxford Mail that last year, 159 people were killed or injured while riding bikes in Oxford. I wonder how many of those were followed up by Thames Valley Police? I wonder how many successful convictions there were for drivers who killed a cyclist through dangerous or careless driving? If the national figures are anything to go by, probably very few.
Every week I read about a cyclist who has been killed on the road in Britain. All too often, the police say they do not have enough evidence to charge the driver or the CPS say there is no realistic chance of a conviction.
Yes, cycling without lights is irresponsible but there are far, far worse events taking place on the road.
(Note to tutting police officers: The author always rides with two rear flashing lights and at least one strong front light in the dark. I am ever concerned that some lunatic driver will drive into the back of me and then utter the immortal words “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you there”.)