Typical. It’s been quiet all week and then three absolutely cast iron blog subjects come along at once, like buses. It’s hard to choose just one but I’ll have to go for the one that will have all of you non-cyclists hopping up and down with glee: for I saw a cyclist getting arrested for running a red light. Yes – in London.
I was walking along Kew Bridge when I noticed a car with its hazards on, slowing down. It hadn’t come to a complete stop when the passenger door was flung open. Blimey, I thought, they’re in a hurry but no, it was just a low-tech equivalent of a stinger mat to bring a cyclist who was bombing along the pavement to a halt. That was when I noticed the Metropolitan police logo on the car door (it wasn’t a proper police patrol car) and the policeman getting out to accuse the guy of running a red light, hopping up onto the pavement and continuing on, presumably all with the police car in not-very-hot pursuit.
I couldn’t see the cyclist’s reaction to all this, but I can only guess that it was one of incredulous surprise. According to Matt Seaton in the Guardian only 4 cyclists in total were prosecuted for running red lights in 2005. I don’t know what the up-to-date figure is but I bet it’s not much higher. Do you think I just witnessed one-quarter of all the red-light-running cyclist arrests for 2007? Or do you think the police – equipped with a special snatch squad of vehicles – are running a new campaign to crack down on what is (according to most of you) the greatest menace to civilisation in Britain today? In truth, I think it was probably just that the local police’s monthly crime figures were looking a little shabby for August, and they needed some easy pickings to gussy up the month end. In that case, catching cyclists running red lights has got to look pretty tempting to your average plod. A quiet morning down by one of the pedestrian crossings would have to rack up some impressive looking totals.
Cyclists of London – we must act, and now. We must prevent the police from their dastardly attempt to criminalise us and our cycling ways. We must band together, present a united front, and commit to a campaign of civil obedience. Think of the disappointment on their little faces as cyclist after cyclist smugly stops at every red, and they see their targets slipping away with every moment that passes…
Maybe that way the police will even be forced to crack down on zebra crossing violating drivers instead?