Cambs Police Tsar Greatly Exercised By Cycling Offences

cyclist08:10 Friday 4th January 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[R]ONNIE BARBOUR: We’ve been talking .. you’ve mainly been talking about Sir Graham Bright’s initiative that the police should prioritise dangerous cyclists in the county. .. Let’s speak to Sir Graham Bright, who’s Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner. First of all, we’re just wondering where this initiative came from. Were you getting a lot of emails and complaint letters from some of the people of Cambridgeshire?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: The answer is yes. We’re looking at not just cycles, but anyone who fails to observe the law. I haven’t sort of suddenly made this up. The law is the law. I agree that there are motorists that need pulling in as well, particularly those that use mobile phones, and even text from mobile phones when they’re driving. But the cyclist .. because it’s Cambridge, Cambridge itself is a city where there are more cycles per head of population than any other city in the country. And obviously it’s something that concerns pedestrians. And yes, I’ve had a lot of people ..
RONNIE BARBOUR: When you say a lot, is that, what, hundreds of emails?
GRAHAM BRIGHT: Yes, I think during the campaign itself there were so many people who talked to me about accidents, then it was an issue. But we’re looking at safety as an issue, and observing the law. We’re not sort of inventing new laws. You should have lights on your bicycle to protect yourself. And obviously cyclists without lights can cause a car to swerve. They could be hit by a car. So I’m concerned about the cyclists.
RONNIE BARBOUR: Some of the response we’ve been getting this morning Sir Graham, is along the lines of, should we be taking police away from other things like burglaries and other crimes, more serious crimes?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well look, everything’s got to be tackled. And we’re not talking about every policeman in Cambridgeshire …
RONNIE BARBOUR: No I know you’re not.
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: .. there’s just a few that have been doing that.
RONNIE BARBOUR: Where would they be taken away from though, if you’re prioritising this? Where are they coming away from?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: The point is you’ve got policemen out on the streets, and that’s one of the things that people have asked me to ensure happens. WE want to get more police on the street, and they will be dealing with everything, whether it be a cyclist, whether it be a car parking on the pavement. It’s their job to ensure that streets in Cambridge are safe. In terms of priority, you’re only talking about four of five policemen in Cambridge city doing this, compared with the hundreds of policemen we’re got, who are looking after all the other areas of crime. But this is a question of safety, and it’s a question of observing the law.
RONNIE BARBOUR: How will you monitor this then? How will you know it’s been a success?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well, again, it takes time for this, and I think if the general attitude of people is that, yes, they’re in a safer condition now in the centre of Cambridge. One of the things that the City Council are doing, and I think this is great, is extending the 20mph zone. They intend to do that, so that we’ve got in the centre of Cambridge a real safety area, safe for cyclists, safe for pedestrians, and safe for motorists. But everyone’s got to observe the law as far as using the roads is concerned. It include the motorists. We’re not excluding motorists, I can assure you.
RONNIE BARBOUR: You’re saying that there are going to be more visible police on the beat. So they will be looking for things like motorists using mobile phones, and motorists driving without seat belts for instance.
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: They’ll be generally looking for that, and anyone creating a misdemeanour in any way at all. But it’s just a matter of course. It so happens that we’ve flagged this up as an issue, and I’m glad we have, because people are now aware of it, and conscious of the fact that they should be obeying the law. And if people don’t obey the law, then obviously something has to be done about it. And it doesn’t matter what the law is. You can’t cherry pick and say I agree with this, or I don’t agree with that. The law is the law. And it’s done in order to protect people and keep the area safe. And I keep .. you know .. safety is the big issue.
RONNIE BARBOUR: Air Graham, we’ve had a Tweet here from Peter Cox. He says it’s ridiculous targeting cyclists. He used to cycle to work and was constantly put at risk by motorists including bikers. What do you say to him?
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well I’m saying to him the same as I’ve just said to you. It’s got to be everyone, motorists as well. Motorists who park on the pavements are causing a nuisance. They’re causing people to step off the pavement to go round them. But you know jumping red lights, cycling on the pavement, cycling without lights. If a car is caught driving through Cambridge without lights they’re in serious trouble. And it’s got to be just the same for anyone who uses the road.
RONNIE BARBOUR: Are the police supportive of this then? Are they saying it’s .. they’ll .. you know, you’re the boss anyway, Sir Graham, so ..
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: I’m not in charge of operational matters.
RONNIE BARBOUR: Yes. You can prod them the right way.
SIR GRAHAM BRIGHT: I did say that it was an issue that we wanted to look at. And they’ve looked at it and I’m delighted.