A police force which has set up a special unit to fine motorists who pass too closely to cyclists has all but given up prosecuting cyclists who break the law.
Figures obtained by “Loophole” Lawyer Nick Freeman under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that last year West Midlands Police fined just two cyclists for riding at night without lights, whilst between 2012 and 2015 its officers failed to issue a single penalty notice to those failing to stop at junctions.
In 2012, it fined 21 cyclists for riding on footpaths, yet only five of those paid. And, last year it gave up penalising pavement-cycling offenders altogether.
The figures were obtained under the provision of the Freedom of Information Act, and asked the number of fines handed down to cyclists in the years 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 for:
- Riding on a footpath
- Riding at night without lights
- Failing to stop at junctions
Last month, however, the same force declared war on drivers who failed to give cyclists a minimum of 4.9ft (1.5m) when overtaking them. These four-wheeled offenders will either be “spoken to” or prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.
Nick Freeman, aka Mr Loophole, today said West Midlands Police stood guilty of turning a blind eye to offences committed by cyclists.
This, he claimed, was down to a combination of officers paying lip service to the law, the anonymity of cyclists and a desire to punish drivers at every turn.
Mr Freeman said: “These figures demonstrate the low priority afforded to cycling offences.
“The area policed by the West Midlands force includes the cities of Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and employs 7,442 police officers, 527 special constables and 676 police community support officers, and, yet, astonishingly , last year they failed to fine a single cyclist for riding on footpaths?
“How many times do we see cyclists at night without lights on their bikes? How many times do we see cyclists riding on pavements forcing pedestrians to flee for their safety? And how many times do we see them ignoring junctions, zebra crossings and traffic lights?
“I would say the answer is frequently, and whilst the police continue to turn a blind eye, it will only get worse.
“Cycling on footpaths is a danger to pedestrians, and cycling at night without lights is a danger to all, yet countless do it on a regular basis.
“The laws are there for a reason and I don’t believe our police forces per se are taking them seriously.”
Mr Freeman added: “I find these figures truly unbelievable. West Midlands Police appear to ‘talk the talk’, but they really aren’t ‘walking the walk’.
“What we all want is safe roads for everyone. There is no question some cyclists are dangerous, unaccountable and ride with impunity because they know they are anonymous.
“Whilst dashcams record bad driving and help convict those committing motoring offences, they are impotent when it comes to bad cycling.”
Mr Freeman said: “For a number of years now I have been calling for bicycles to have identification plates so those riders who break the law can be caught and prosecuted.
“Yet, because they are unidentifiable, coupled with a dwindling number of traffic police who regard these offences as zero priority – they get away with it!”
Freedom Of Information Statistics
West Midlands Police
Riding on the pavement
Riding at night without lights
Failing to stop at junctions
About Freeman & Co.
Freeman & Co. are a specialist firm of road traffic and criminal defence solicitors based in Manchester but with nationwide coverage.
Freeman & Co. specialise in a wide variety of road traffic cases, ranging from drink driving, speeding and mobile phone offences, to name but a few.
The firm was created by Nick Freeman, who has been dubbed “Mr Loophole” by the press for his technical legal ability and robustly challenging the prosecution.
Nick is well regarded as an expert road traffic lawyer and has successfully represented many high profile clients for a variety of motoring offences as well as criminal offences.
The firm of Freeman & Co. embodies the way Nick works, with minute attention to detail and challenging the prosecution at every turn.
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Tel. 0161 236 7007