*Undercover bike police seek out dangerous drivers*
Undercover police officers wearing plain clothes and video cameras have
been sent out on bicycles to catch motorists who endanger cyclists by
driving too close or cutting them up.
The initiative was launched by the Metropolitan Police yesterday to
increase safety for cycling commuters in London, where more than half a
million daily journeys are made by bicycle.
Analysis from City of Westminster council in 2013 showed that more than two
thirds of collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles in central London
were the motorist’s fault.
Police have launched the programme to focus on motorists who drive
dangerously, but officers will also pull up cyclists who misbehave, with
one senior officer warning: “We can’t be everywhere, but we could be
Motoring groups have welcomed efforts to increase safety for cyclists, but
expressed concerns that resources could be better deployed by having more
visible traffic officers, whose numbers have been cut by more than a
quarter over five years.
The Met said: “Officers . . . will go to any location, at any time, in any
borough, based on intelligence and complaints, to ensure drivers properly
obey the rules of the road.”
The officers, riding unmarked bicycles donated by BMW, will prioritise
three common driving offences, including the tailgating of cyclists, unsafe
overtaking, and turning across a cyclist’s path.
“If officers encounter a driver committing any of these offences, they will
identify them to a nearby, marked police motorcycle rider, who will stop
and engage with them,” police said.
The motorist will be given a presentation on Highway Code rules governing
safe driving around cyclists and will have to provide insurance and licence
details and pass an eyesight test, while their vehicle is checked.
Professional drivers will be reported and may have to appear in court, as
will all motorists who are guilty of “particularly bad” driving. A similar
initiative in Edinburgh this year resulted in almost 70 drivers pulled over
in the first week.
Sergeant Andy Osborne said: “We want all road users to obey the Highway
Code. This tactic is about education and encouraging motorists who do not
comply with the rules of the road to start doing so, for everyone’s safety
and protection, theirs included.”
Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: “We know that
safety concerns are one of the biggest barriers to cycling in London.
That’s why we’re working hard to build high-quality safe routes to
encourage even more people to cycle, and why I’m so pleased to see the Met
tackling some of the dangers that we see on our roads.”
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said he
wanted to see improved safety for cyclists, particularly through segregated
cycle routes, but added: “Our members want to see more traffic police out
there. If you have enough manpower to have [undercover officers] out there,
then have them in uniform.”
Mr Greig said that motorists had become used to cameras mounted on bike
helmets and dashboards and would not be unduly concerned by the police’s
use of cameras.
Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “I think drivers are generally
quite considerate, but there are some who pass far too close and I don’t
think they understand the consequences of their actions, which could be