Cyclists are being stopped and given road safety advice as part of a new initiative to ‘engage and educate’ by Essex Police and Essex County Council.
Police officers are patrolling busy cycle routes in four areas of the county where riders are at higher risk of being involved in serious road crashes. Essex Police say they are determined to improve safety and reduce casualties.
‘Operation Bluenose’ is targeting both cyclists and motorists and officers are giving advice to both about how to ride or drive more safely and avoid collisions.
Essex Police says that January, February and March are the months when road collisions involving cyclists increase, mainly during dark evenings when people cycle home from school, college or work.
Through Operation Bluenose, the police are identifying what they see as at-risk riders and urging them to use safety equipment such as lights, helmets and high visibility clothing. Officers are also using social media to ask cyclists to identify which areas and cycle routes should be patrolled.
Riding without lights can incur a penalty of £50, while wearing reflective clothing and/or a helmet is at the rider’s discretion – but Essex Police are encouraging and advising riders to do so, to make them more visible and “reduce the risk of head injury should a collision take place”.
Sgt Graham Freeman, who is running the operation, said: “About 50% had no lights and were given verbal warnings. About 50% had no reflective clothing and 75% had no cycle helmet.
“The vast majority of people we stopped were very receptive and those who were fully compliant with the law were most impressed that Essex Police was tackling the problem.”
Daniel Carlin, Essex County Council’s senior road safety officer for cycling, said: “This engage and educate initiative is based on our cycle collision data, and local police are actively on the streets from lighting up time to about 7.30pm.
“We are using the THINK! ‘Look out for each other’ leaflet as part of the engagement and it is working well.
“In March 2014, Essex Police will be launching the ‘Cycle Improvement’ initiative which will give offenders the option – at the officer’s discretion – to either pay a £50 fixed penalty notice for the offence or complete an online cycle course at a lower cost.”
Click here to read the full Essex Police news release.