The Bolton Price Comparison Site

In Bolton last week, Greater Manchester Police were out and about having a bit of a jolly old crackdown on cycling.

Well, ok. Maybe it’s fine. But let’s see how it fits into the bigger picture.

The whole business of a “crackdown” on cycling (usually pavement cycling) feels a little uncomfortable, because it can often have a knock-on effect.

For example, in late June in Spalding, police staged a crackdown on pavement cyclists in Spalding and just two working days after the start of the operation, two cyclists were injured in separate collisions. The police response stated that “Operation Oatmeal will continue so we can improve road safety in Spalding for all road users.” (Um… OK.)

Perhaps more disturbing was the death of Alan Neve in Holborn in July, at a cycle-unfriendly junction which many riders avoided by illegally using a bus lane, as Andy Waterman carefully points out. Neve’s death occurred, again, just days after a police crackdown on cyclists using that lane.

British infrastructure, sadly, often makes legality and safety mutually exclusive choices.

So whilst on one hand it’s pretty hard to complain about being nicked for riding illegally, when you look at the bigger picture it’s a complete fallacy that these crackdowns are beneficial to safety.

Anyway. We’ll come back to that.

The fine for cycling across Victoria Square in Bolton was £50. If you were a bit stupid and you got nicked both on the way to work and the way home you’d be £100 lighter.

Which sort of seems a bit stiff when you compare it to the fine awarded to Ronald Finney, who—also in Bolton—drove his car with eyesight so impaired that he was medically unfit to drive. He hit a cyclist, breaking his back in four places, fracturing his skull, breaking 30 other bones, causing a brain injury and placing him on a life support machine.

Finney was fined £95.

Now, you tell me if that equates – in terms of safety – to two trips across a pedestrianised square on a bicycle.

In Bolton, getting in your car with medically defective eyesight, mowing someone down and all but killing them costs you the same as a couple of hundred yards on a bike across some paving slabs.

Who says motorists are the cash cows of British justice? They’re getting great deals on their traffic violations! Wilfully ignore your medical conditions and bring a fellow man to the brink of death and you’re paying not far off the same as someone dodging cars on their way to work.

Obviously, people getting a bollocking for breaking the law isn’t something that can be argued against at a fundamental level. But if the aim of law enforcement is people’s net safety and wellbeing then there is a problem with pushing people away from routes that are safe—even though they are a cause of irritation to others—into the paths of drivers such as Finney, and onto woefully unfit infrastructure that sees some of them end up under the rear axle of a tipper truck. And, therefore, there is a problem with dressing this process up as a safety matter. And it’s barely comprehensible that it’s ticketed up with a price that puts it on a par with actually causing injury and death, which—and here’s the point—is precisely the thing that these people are trying to avoid.

For the police to nick people, fine, that’s their job. But just be damned sure of one thing: a crackdown on pavement cycling is not about safety; it is detrimental to safety.

And if the police say otherwise, it’s time to question their evidence.

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4 thoughts on “The Bolton Price Comparison Site

  1. Gary Dawes (@gazza_d) 19 August 2013 / 21:19

    Top post!.

    There is Home office “guidance” that states that pavement cycling should only be targetted IF it is reckless and endangering others.

    And what about all the bloody cars that park on pavements – Have Bolton & Spalding plods been ticketing them? No, cos driving a 2 ton+ metal box onto the pavement and leaving it there often forcing people into the road is seen as socially acceptable.

    Plod are not supposed to do the popular thing but uphold the laws fairly and sensibly.

    This is all bollocks

    • radfahrarzt 22 August 2013 / 22:20

      You are spot on Gary.
      Its easier to pick on the soft targets.
      Never mind the more than 50% of drivers who ecceed the urban speed limits by a good margin, ignore the prevailing risk factors and then finish their journey by parking all over the footath .
      Well eveyone does it so it must be ok……

  2. triptogenetica 29 August 2013 / 14:09

    Crystal clear reasoning as always; good stuff.

    The police in Bolton even had a leaflet with the text “Sharing the road” “Dicing with death?”. This seems to be part of Greater Manchester Police’s “Operation Dice”. Seems to be aimed squarely at drivers, but they’ve obviously failed to see the implications for cyclists. If they’re serious that sharing the road is dicing with death, at least for more vulnerable road users, then what sane person wouldn’t cycle off road where possible?

  3. Ivorcadaver 30 August 2013 / 14:05

    Blimey, I wasn’t aware of this. I live in Bolton and often cycle very slowly across Victoria Square. Yes I know its an offence but I also believe its illegal to be drunk in a pub. Some common sense please! and how many motorists get prosecuted for stopping in ASLs (nil I suspect as when I wrote and asked the new Manchester Police Commissioner the response was ‘they don’t collect the statistics’ yeah I’m sure…..

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