1. In Bristol in 2019 A & S Police recorded 318 incidents of injury to cyclists arising from collisions with motor vehicles. What initiatives would you like to see pursued by the police to reduce this number?
That is a significant number of collisions and I would like to see initiatives implemented to get that number down. I think it is even more important to do more to prioritise cycling and pedestrians as we edge out of COVID, await a return to a fuller bus service and take measures to better share space. Promoting cycling is also important in consideration of air quality and climate emergency implications. More people need to be encouraged to cycle, but they must also feel safe and be safe in doing so. I note ‘Operation Close Pass’ initiated in the West Midlands but more recently trialled by Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police Alliance area. This initiative used undercover police cyclists to both monitor and pull dangerous drivers over. It has been clear that this has had an impact. ASP has piloted something similar in response to National Police Chief’s Council’s ‘2Wheels Campaign‘. It would be important to look at the findings and impact of this, review and continue with it if it works in reducing the number of incidents and indeed driver attitudes. ASP has also undergone ‘Operation Tramline’, generally tracking distracted drivers.
There needs to be a commitment to education and enforcement. I would like to do more with an extensive education and awareness campaign in the first instance. Reiterating the highway code would be a start as it is clear that many drivers are unaware of how much space must be afforded – 1.5m or a cars width – to a cyclist when overtaking them, for example.
2. Police records indicate that in the overwhelming majority of these incidents the motor vehicle driver was at fault, but in only 12% of these cases was any enforcement action is undertaken, e.g. warning letters sent, points awarded, education required or prosecutions initiated. How would you envisage ensuring that all incidents of careless or dangerous driving are thoroughly investigated and appropriate enforcement action taken?
It is quite clear that we need a change in attitudes in relation to understanding and accepting the seriousness of these incidents. We must share the highways without a hierarchy biased towards car drivers, particularly as we try to mitigate the effects of air pollution and climate change. Equally, in a post COVID world, we need a better use of shared spaces where we can continue to social distance when needed.
In order to raise awareness and change attitudes and behaviours, it is important that we do have enforcement and that an effort is made to follow up with every at fault driver (and cyclist where appropriate) because to leave it is a lost opportunity to challenge and educate. Messaging is important; it is a way of letting drivers know that their actions were not ok and have been dangerous; they must understand the negative impact on the victims life also. Leaving things unchallenged can mislead people into thinking they are not at fault and should do nothing differently. In terms of education, a simulator experience might be good so that more non-cyclist drivers can appreciate how many near misses there actually are on the roads and why! Appreciation for how scary cycling can be and how disregarded cyclists can be treated is necessary. To make road users safe, it is important that all road users also know and adhere to their rights and responsibilities.
3. In relation to near misses logged online by cyclists, the police take no action other than record the incidents. In the case of video submissions of close passes and other dangerous driving submitted by cyclists, the police do investigate but do not respond with information as to what action they will take. If elected, would you ensure that all such incidents, however, reported, were thoroughly investigated, appropriate action was taken and that cyclists were informed as to the outcomes.
Yes, because I believe in putting victims at the centre and education for offenders. Every victim deserves to have a follow-up. Communication is key. Cyclists should be kept informed because any accident can potentially be traumatic, and enabling a mental recovery may be dependent on getting a sense of justice and closure on the matter, so not being informed leaves things unresolved. A restorative approach should also be considered where agreed by the victim and practical. Victims matter, and they must feel like they matter. It is hard to see the point in logging something if nothing is to be done with that information. Maybe the logging can assist in identifying problem areas geographically, but again if nothing is done with this information, then what is the point of logging it! I do not understand why citizens who are cyclists are afforded less information about incidents committed against them. Surely it is in the public interest to know what enforcement or action has been taken? I would like to think that there could be capacity to run a significant road safety campaign and also spend more time fully investigating and monitoring all reported incidents. I would hope that this more committed approach would start to impact on and reduce the numbers of incidents.
4. Data on motoring offences is not regularly shared. If elected, will you ensure that data on roads policing activity and motoring offences is published regularly, that the number of injury collisions which result in prosecution is made public and that this data is broken down by vehicle type and local authority area?
Transparency is key. I do not understand the reason why this information and data is not regularly published or public, and so unless fully convinced otherwise, I would advocate that this information is published regularly and made public which in itself would demonstrate a shift in priority and messaging on the matter. This approach would be also be necessary if a major road safety and cycling campaign is to be launched as it would provide quantitative data on the findings. I note that Bristol Cycling has collected some data. It is good that there are a number of Cycling Forums who were meeting regularly in various authority areas; if needed, I would support better communication with the police’s Road Safety Department and team and the forums to reiterate a collective vision for the region’s roads and cycling which includes more local police on bikes as well.
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