Despite knowing full well that Bridge Street is a no-cycling area, many people decide to ride through there. As Police Sgt Nicky Hall explains to the BBC’s Paul Stainton, their journey could turn out to be an expensive one. Broadcast at 07:23 on Thursday 22nd July 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
PAUL: It’s one of the biggest gripes in the city centre, cycling on Bridge Street. Although banned between nine and six pm from Monday to Saturday it’s often ignored. You have only got to walk through the city centre and you can see people doing it. Well Cambridgeshire Police spent yesterday afternoon on Bridge Street, watching for cyclists. Sgt Nicky Hall led the operation. Morning Nicky.
PAUL: We get a lot of complaints. I was sat in Costa Coffee a couple of days ago. I saw people zooming by. What did you find yesterday?
NICKY: Well unsurprisingly we found quite a number of people breaking the law. It is a gripe that we’ve been told about quite a number of times now at our community engagement events, where the support officers speak to members of the public. We spent a couple of hours out there enforcing that law yesterday and we actually issued twenty four tickets, a thirty pound fine.
PAUL: Really? And that was just in a few minutes.
NICKY: That was about two hours worth. Twenty four people were fined, yes.
PAUL: Maybe you should be there for a bit longer and do it for a week. That might get the message across.
NICKY: Yes. We want to educate people really. But we felt yesterday that the people that we were ticketing actually knew what they were doing, and they were breaking the law. They basically got off their bikes when they saw us. So that indicates to us that they clearly knew that the signs are there. They clearly knew it was an offence, but they were doing it anyway. So we will be, over the next weeks and months, continuing to enforce that law now, and issuing tickets. We just want to get the message across. Don’t cycle along Bridge Street.
PAUL: It’s dangerous.
NICKY: It is dangerous, yes. We did have a lady a few weeks ago knocked down by a young lad. He was actually, because he was riding so recklessly, arrested and charged with common assault. So we will take action where necessary, to try and make sure that people do abide by the law, and make sure it’s a safe place to walk and enjoy shopping.
PAUL: Yes. You see it through Rivergate as well, cycling down there. I’ve even seen somebody trying to cycle through Queensgate. These people just don’t care, I think, some of them.
NICKY: I think, some of them, it’s probably true, and we need to make them care. And if we have to give them thirty pound fines, then that’s what we’ll continue to do.
PAUL: Yes. Did you get any big excuses?
NICKY: No. Just people fed up, clearly, that they were getting hit where it hurts really.
PAUL: You didn’t get one of these? You didn’t get a .. “What!”
NICKY: No. We got a “We didn’t know about it, we didn’t know about it.” But as I said, by the fact that over three quarters of them actually got off their bikes when they saw us ..
NICKY: .. I pointed out, as my officers did, you clearly know that you shouldn’t be cycling here. We got a few “I was only going really slow.” But that was the best excuse really, not much of one.
PAUL: Yes. On the way to the hospital probably, walk-in centre or somewhere.
PAUL: Well listen. The message is don’t do it, because you’ll get, what, a thirty pound fine. If you knock somebody over, you’ll get charged with assault.
NICKY: Well that’s it. If you’re reckless in your cycling, and we can prove that you weren’t thinking about what you were doing, and you weren’t looking where you were going, then we’ll take as severe action as we need to. We just want to say to people, we will be out there. We’re going to be doing it at random times of the day. If you see a police officer you’re likely to get a ticket now.
PAUL: Nicky. Good stuff. Keep up the good work, and stop people doing it. It really is dangerous, particularly for the old and the infirm as well.