Notes from GBUG meeting with Surrey Police to discuss cycling issues .http://westsurreyctc.co.uk/blogs/g-bug-next-meeting-30th-january/
- Close passing #TooCloseForComfort Campaign: how can G-Bug help Surrey Police.
- How can people cycling help the police address the few deliberate aggressive people driving and also those who are perhaps unaware of their actions. What information do the Police need and in what format to take up the case.
- How can we break down the “cyclist vs car driver” mentality
- Does Surrey Police support better cycling and walking facilities and is there anything they can do to help push the case at a council level.
David Munro – Surrey Police & Crime Commissioner
David was invited at short notice (morning of the meeting day) but made an extra effort to attend and speak for a few minutes a the beginning of he meeting. He made the point that he is a cyclist, and believes cycling is an important factor in local transport, and that Surrey cyclists should get the priority that they are due. He made the point that in 2015 there were 10 murders in Surrey, but 31 people were killed on the roads. For that reason Surrey’s “Drive Smart” campaign is to be relaunched to improve road safety, and cycling is one of the main strands of the initiative.
Sgt Phil Dix – Roads Policing Unit (RPU), Surrey Police
Sgt Dix is known in Surrey, in the UK, and internationally for his contribution to road safety through social media, and he spoke in detail about how this works. The meeting was shown a clip of the promotional campaign by Cycling UK which outlined the campaign #TooCloseForComfort: the close pass mat
Following the lead of West Midlands Police, Surrey RPU decided to experiment with the use of Twitter to communicate with the public. They found that this is an effective tool to communicate having the advantage of allowing two way interaction and discussion. Currently the @SurreyRoadCops account creates about 3 million impressions per month.
Close Pass Mats
The RPU team is small, so they use the Cycling UK Close Pass Mats on an ad-hoc basis. The last instance was in Staines on Sunday. In this case the first close-pass was only about 30 seconds after they started their operation. In this case an officer was nearly knocked off their bike, and the driver received a ticket straight away.
In future, they hope to partner with other organisations such cas local councils, and the Fire & Rescue Service to spread the message. There will also be attendance at local events like Wings and Wheels at Dunsfold and school fetes.
Many cars have dash-cams these days, and cyclists sometimes wear cameras too. When these record incidents, the footage can be submitted online to the Surrey Police Traffic Process Unit for use as evidence. It should be noted that
- Evidence must be submitted promptly as there are strict time limits for notice of prosecution
- Original files must be retained
- Submissions should if possible include at least two minutes of footage before and after the incident: this is because drivers will often claim you were riding badly before and after
- The video must not be shared publicly to avoid prejudicing a potential jury
- Supporting evidence statements from independent witnesses are helpful: although statements from your fellow cyclists are helpful, ideally these should be persons not connected to you
- You must be willing to attend court if there is a prosecution
Surrey Police hope eventually to emulate Operation Snap in Wales which allows footage to be uploaded directly to the Traffic Process Unit (instead of sharing a link to a private YouTube clip).
Reported incidents result in either prosecution in court, a fixed penalty, a warning, or where there is insufficient evidence, no action. All reports are investigated.
Where Surrey RPU run a close-pass operation, any drivers stopped will have records checked for previous issues, their vehicle checked for problems, and they will be told the consequences of their actions. Often, if due contrition is shown, they are given the option of a fixed penalty, or roadside education which is provided immediately. Experience so far is that all drivers given education have been very receptive. It is expected that they will explain what happened to friends, which will spread the word about the close pass operation.
Surrey Police have a Casualty Reduction Team. They are currently working with Sussex Police and cooperating with partner agencies across Surrey and Sussex.
Pavements, red light running and parking
Bikes are not allowed on pavements and can be given a £30 fixed penalty (rare). Complaints are received by the police about cyclists on pavements, and the police need to remain unbiased. They will target people who present the most risk whether this is reckless cycling on a pavement or cars close passing cyclists. The same principles apply to cyclists and cars running through red lights.
Parking was decriminalised in the 1990s. Since then the police will only get involved where there is a danger to the public, for example along Stoke Park last year a long line of cars parked in a non-mandatory cycle lane were ticketed. (Question: doesn’t that rather contradict the idea that it is non-mandatory?)
His unit will only report the most dangerous pot holes, which they may also mark with a cone. Sam Jones from Cycling UK mentioned at this point that anyone can report a pot hole using the online web page or App https://www.fillthathole.org.uk/
What you can do
- Join G-BUG http://www.g-bug.org/join/
- Tell David Munro, the Surrey Police & Crime Commissioner what you think about policing and improving safety for cyclists
- Tell your local councillors and MP that you want to see cycle safety improved in Guildford.