A POLICE crackdown caught more than 100 motorists and cyclists ignoring traffic signals and road markings during a four-day period on one city street.
New figures offer a startling snapshot of the daily lawbreaking that occurs on the city’s roads, with motorists caught ignoring cycle safety boxes at junctions and cyclists ignoring red lights and riding on pavements.
Officers stopped 106 motorists for entering Advanced Stop Lines (ASL) – red boxes designed to allow cyclists a head start at traffic lights – during an operation along North Bridge.
A total of 26 cyclists were stopped for jumping red lights and six more for cycling on pavements as part of the “Drive Safe, Cycle Safe” initiative.
On this occasion the drivers and cyclists were issued with a warning but when the education stage of the campaign finishes at the end of this month officers will begin enforcing fines.
A police spokesman said: “Drivers who stopped within cycle boxes were told that this was illegal and given advice to avoid committing the offence again to ensure the safety of cyclists.
“Over 20 cyclists were also given appropriate guidance after officers observed them cycling through red lights.”
All of the recorded stops could have been subject to £30 fixed penalty tickets. A £30 non-endorsable fine can also be issued for reckless cycling.
Police are particularly targeting drivers’ behaviour at junctions as, between 2004 and 2009, 74 per cent of cycle casualties in the city were injured at or within 20 metres of a junction.
Of the motorists stopped between April 2 and 5, 53 were private cars, 34 were black cabs, and 15 were public service vehicles (such as coaches), and four buses. The figures also reveal that male drivers were the worst culprits as they accounted for 85 of those stopped.
Seventy five per cent of those stopped committing cycling offences were also male.
Les McVay, chair of the Edinburgh Licences Taxi Partnership, said the group had taken steps to ensure its drivers were aware of the rules regarding cycle boxes at junctions.
He said: “Everybody wants to work together to improve safety for cyclists and we have been working with our members to ensure taxis and cyclists continue to co-exist effectively in Edinburgh.
“We have put the details regarding not stopping in the red box out to all of our drivers and will continue to work with the cab office to try to get this message across. We would point out that all road users, including car and taxi drivers and cyclists, should be obeying traffic laws.”
The city-wide crackdown has been welcomed by motoring and cycling bodies.
Dave Du Feu, chair of Lothians cycling group Spokes, said: “I applaud the police for their efforts to increase safety on city roads. This is an even-handed campaign and neither motorists nor cyclists can feel targeted as a result. The Highway Code is there for all to adhere to and I would ask all cyclists to obey it.
“Some feel ASLs are for cyclists only but they offer increased safety for all. They allow cyclists a head start but also improve visibility at junctions for pedestrians and allow motorists a better view also.”
Neil Greig, the Institute of Advanced Motorists director of policy and research, echoed this view. He said: “Education is key on this issue. Cycling is becoming more and more popular in Edinburgh and all road users need to become better aware of the rules of the road. I’ve always supported the idea of education first then enforcement. Anything to make the roads safer for all.”
“Drive Safe, Cycle Safe” is a joint safety campaign launched by the city council, police, fire service and NHS Lothian, and comes after a spate of fatal accidents on the Capital’s roads in the past 12 months.
A police spokesman said: “Lothian and Borders Police is committed to making our roads safer for all members of our communities.
“The ‘Drive Safe, Cycle Safe’ campaign is a partnership initiative that aims to reduce the number of Edinburgh road traffic accidents involving cyclists. The campaign focuses on the importance of motorists observing traffic signals and cycle boxes, and of cyclists stopping at traffic lights.”
Two motorists caught five times in Greenways in a week
AT LEAST two drivers were fined five times each in the first week of the Capital’s new bus lane cameras being fully operational.
The pair could be forced to pay up to £600 into city coffers after being snapped illegally driving in Greenways.
The city council is still collating the total number of fines dished out since the cameras went live on April 23 but there are known to be other cases where drivers have been fined multiple times.
Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “I’m a bit torn, but I think it shows that these are the type of people they should be catching. If they’re being caught that often, it suggests they’re ignoring signs. This should be about catching repeat offenders.”
Overall, around 5000 fines were issued by the council in the first five days of enforcement, netting the authority a potential £300,000.
Motorists caught illegally in the Greenways are fined £60, with the fee reducing by half if it is paid within two weeks.
Earlier this week, road users complained that the new cameras were causing gridlock and holding up buses, as drivers were unsure of rules and were avoiding Greenways, even when cameras were not operational.
Lothian Buses today said it needed more time to assess the true impact of the cameras. Operations manager George McKendrick said “There has been no negative feedback from our drivers so far, but we will need a longer period of time to assess the true impact under all traffic conditions.”
Les McVay, chair of Edinburgh Licensed Taxi Partnership, said that while the taxi trade had so far reported “very little difference”, drivers would be following the use of the cameras very closely in the coming weeks.
He said: “We do place a high importance on the bus lanes and hope that drivers will keep bus lanes clear to help public transport move people as quickly as possible, whilst allowing other traffic to flow.”
A spokesperson for Edinburgh City Council said: “Driving in bus lanes has been illegal for decades but evidence shows that drivers only stop flouting the rules when the restrictions are properly enforced.
“These lanes must be kept clear in order to keep public transport flowing so that people will continue to use buses rather than their cars, which will contribute to a reduction in pollution.
“Any income generated by fines will be ploughed back into running costs, with surplus being spent on local transport plans. However, it is expected that the recent awareness campaign, which involved warning letters, signs and adverts, will help educate drivers and lead to fewer people breaking the rules.”