Police fail on fines for blocking cycle zones

POLICE have admitted they have not fined any drivers for blocking boxes designed for cyclists at traffic lights despite launching a crackdown against such offences.

Despite a police campaign, many motorists still encroach into the cyclists safe area. Picture: Greg Macvean

The revelation has met with an angry reaction from cyclists, who said the “safe zones” must be enforced for both cyclist and pedestrian safety.

Motorists who stop within the advanced stop lines (ASLs) face a £100 fine and three penalty points added to their licences.

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Police Scotland targeted drivers and cyclists committing offences such as blocking ASLs and jumping red lights in Edinburgh last November.

Officers announced during the two-week campaign that the focus would shift from education to enforcement in its second week, with “tough action against anyone we identify as repeat or blatant offenders”.

However, the force has now revealed, in answer to a freedom of information (FoI) request, that “the Edinburgh division of Police Scotland did not issue any £100 fines with three penalty points for invading cyclist space as part of the campaign/crackdown, or since then.”

The Scotsman understands there have also been few, if any, such fines issued elsewhere in Scotland.

Billy Rosendale, an Edinburgh web developer who made the FoI request, said: “I cycle to work every day and with my children at the weekends. ASLs are very commonly occupied by motorists. After a couple of months [after the police campaign], I noted no reduction in the number or frequency of motorists occupying ASLs within Edinburgh.

“The police statement was nothing short of an empty promise and an outrageous piece of PR work which has only led to loss of trust and disappointment within the cycling community of Edinburgh and the Lothians area.”

Dave du Feu, of Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, said ASLs must be protected because they also helped pedestrians and drivers by improving visibility at junctions. He said: “Motorists who deliberately block ASLs are endangering other road users.”

Neil Greig, the Scotland-based policy director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said: “The IAM support the enforcement of advanced stop lines but Police Scotland must be more open about their manpower commitments and the actual findings of the campaign on the ground.”

Dave Brennan, an organiser of the annual Pedal on Parliament event, in which cycle campaigners converge on Holyrood, said: “It is important cyclists feel safe to use them (ASLs) and they remain free of encroaching traffic. If the police are serious about making roads safer for vulnerable road users, they must back up their rhetoric with action.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police Scotland’s two-week city centre road safety initiative during November primarily aimed to educate road users.

“Over the course of the two weeks, more than 300 motorists and cyclists were spoken to or given warnings, including for motorists stopping or creeping into the advanced cyclist boxes.

“This remains an offence and drivers will be given a £100 fixed penalty notice and three points on their licence.”