Driving home rules of the road

November 29 2013

A SCHEME which aims to educate cyclists and motorists on road safety has been launched by police.

A SCHEME which aims to educate cyclists and motorists on road safety has been launched by police.
Officers have been out in force on Gloucester Road in recent weeks, and the Bristol West neighbourhood team hopes it will be able to improve relations between cyclists and drivers who often fail to see eye-to-eye on the city's roads.
Officers on foot and on bikes will be out during rush hour, three times a week, mainly operating around some of Bristol's main traffic routes, including Gloucester Road and Whiteladies Road.
The scheme comes after a recent spate of deaths involving cyclists in Bristol and London. It will concentrate on traffic junctions where most offences occur.
On November 21, officers recorded 65 motor vehicles stopping in cycle boxes, eight cyclists riding on the pavement and five cyclists stopping in yellow hatched boxes. A total of 25 cyclists were caught jumping traffic lights.
Sergeant Sean Underwood said: "The idea of the scheme is to help cyclists and motorists understand what is and isn't acceptable when it comes to riding and driving around the streets of Bristol. 
"It's been well documented that there are tensions between the two groups and it may just be down to genuine lack of understanding about the law in this area."
He added: "We'll be highly visible at key junctions. If we spot someone committing an offence then we'll give out a warning and offer advice.
"Depending on the seriousness of the offence we may also enforce the law which can result in a ticket, fine or three points on your licence.
"The feedback we've had has been very positive. Most of the motorists we spoke to didn't know about the cycle box offence, which just goes to show there is a lack of awareness about proper use of the road."­
Rob Harding, on behalf of Bristol Cycling Campaign - a group which aims to make Bristol a better place for cycling and encourages more people to cycle - said: "Gloucester Road has been identified as one of the six worst roads in Bristol for traffic incidents, resulting in injuries to cyclists.
"We welcome current efforts by the police to educate both motorists and cyclists in the safe use of the road. We hope that, combined with action by the council to improve provision for cycling in the area, it will lead to a reduction in the number of such incidents."
It was announced in the October issue of Bishopston Voice that the council will be investing around £400,000 in Gloucester Road to make the area safer for cyclists.
The money will be invested in "filtered permeability", whereby cyclists can be exempt from access restrictions to some residential streets, in a bid to provide cycle routes which are free from "rat-running" traffic.
A council spokesperson said: “Gloucester Road is one of the busiest routes for cyclists in Bristol with more than 1200 cyclists using the road during the daytime on Pigsty Hill."
According to the council, since 2010 there has been 125 cyclist casualties on Gloucester Road, six of which were serious.
The council is also encouraging road users to watch out for each other since mornings and evenings have become darker.
Road casualties peak in October and November after the clocks change and both cyclist and pedestrian casualties go up at this time of year, the council said. 
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) cycle accidents in the dark are more likely to be fatal.
Mark Bradshaw, Assistant Mayor for Transport, said: “Cyclists and pedestrians need to make sure they are visible in the dark and drivers should take extra care to watch out for them and give themselves more time to look and react.
”Now is a good time for cyclists to ensure that lights work and that you have as much reflective gear as possible."

Cyclist on Gloucester Road. Credit: Ian Chittick