February update on work with police
Near miss and dangerous driving reporting
We are continuing to press the police to introduce a near miss/dangerous driving reporting system. They have agreed to do this but, as yet, have not started work on its introduction; however, they reported that they plan to appoint an officer to do so. We handed over information on existing schemes run elsewhere in the country and suggested that they need to talk to them about what works best.
One of the cases we have taken up demonstrates the need for such a scheme and its potential value. Dr B. was cycling down St Johns Lane, Totterdown when she had to jump out of the way of an Argos lorry which had decided to overtake her just where the road narrowed. She tried reporting the incident to the police but was told that since she escaped injury there was nothing to report.
We took up the case and the police have now interviewed the cyclist and say they intend to meet Argos to discuss cyclist awareness training for their drivers.
Harassment of women cyclists
We had previously raised this issue with the police and put Chief Inspector Andy Bennett, the police’s lead on all things to do with cycling, in touch with Kate Cooke, a Health Promotion specialist with Public Health who set up the Facebook page “Women Cyclists of Bristol” (currently 374 members). They are now planning to work together on this issue.
At present Victim Support is only offered to certain disadvantaged groups and those who are potential witnesses in court cases. We have argued that all pedestrian and cyclist victims of dangerous driving should be offered Victim Support from the time of the relevant incident and not from when the police decide to prosecute, if they do. The police claim that the issue will be resolved when certain procedures are amalgamated and updated. However, given that the current system struggles to provide support to the limited number of eligible victims, it is difficult to see this happening.
We did not make any real progress on the question of the Council, police and other agencies sharing information as to the occurrence of road traffic incidents. It seems incredible that the police spend a great deal of time recording the incidents, the Council expend resources analysing their reports and yet the resulting information is not used to target enforcement and infrastructure improvements. Their suggestion was that we should raise the issue in the Neighbourhood Forums and Partnerships. This is one of the aims of BCyC Neighbourhoods work.
A number of BCyC members have been involved in Community Speedwatch in their neighbourhoods. In some cases, high percentages of cars have been found to be speeding. The police we met with agreed that their camera vans should be redirected to areas where there were persistent problems.