Do fewer offences mean better bike behaviour or laxer policing?

Brompton bikeThe number of recorded traffic offences by cyclists on London’s roads fell last year, and on current data looks like it will be down further in 2015.

Cycling has grown dramatically in central London in recent years, by 173% according to the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling, and TfL estimates that 570,000 journeys are taken each day by bike.

Data released by the Metropolitan Police for offences from 2007 to May this year under a Freedom of Information request showed that traffic violations went up quite sharply as that popularity grew.

The most common offences are cycling on a pavement and going through a red light. Both are subject to a fixed penalty notice fine of £50.

The number of fixed penalty notices handed out rose steadily until 2010 and then began to decline. 2013 stands out and the high number may be the result of a massive road safety campaign, Operation Safeway, at the end of that year. Designed with cycle safety it mind it ended up giving out more than 4,000 notices to cyclists in around 8 weeks.

cycle offences

In 2014 Fixed Penalty Notices went back to 2012 levels, and up unitl May 18th this year just 1,300 have been given out, 370 for cycling on the pavement and 946 for going through a red light.

The data also reveals that cycling while drunk or under the influence of drugs remains a rare charge. Riding a bike while drunk is an offence under the Road Traffic Act, but the more commonly used law is the 1872 Drunk in Charge of a Carriage. For legal purposes a bicycle qualifies as a carriage.

cycle drunk

Prosecutions peaked in 2010 with 22 but fell back to 8 last year. Up to May 18th this year 7 people had been charged

The number of offences is driven by two things, levels of police enforcement and how well cyclists are observing the law. This data doesn’t tell us which of these or what combination is affecting the numbers.

Source data

See also

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