Chief Inspector Kenny Buchanan, of Lothian and Borders Police Traffic Branch, responds to Malcolm Wardlaw's criticism of the force's autumn cycle safety campaign.
RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS
The primary aim of all the road safety campaigns that we run is to raise public awareness to a problem and hopefully educate the road using public by offering advice in relation to that problem.
You may well be aware that we have regularly and successfully run such campaigns aimed at drink and drug driving, the wearing of seatbelts, speeding, the use of mobile phones and vehicle safety.
The success of all of our campaigns relies on the assistance of the media in highlighting the campaign in newspapers and on radio and television.
Having seen no decrease in the number of pedal cyclist casualties over the last few years it was felt prudent to highlight this problem by our usual means.
Mr Buchanan says everyone has a role to play in road safety
The aim of the campaign was therefore to highlight the measures that cyclists can take in order to reduce the risks to themselves; including the wearing of a helmet and bright clothing and the use of lights in darkness or poor visibility.
Allied to this we wished to highlight the fact that cyclists are subject to road traffic law in much the same way as motorists. Again by obeying the law cyclists will reduce the risk of being involved in an accident.
The timing of the campaign coincided with the start of the new academic year and the reduction in daylight hours with the onset of autumn.
As was pointed out in the numerous media releases, all road users have a part to play in road safety and it is acknowledged that driver behaviour is responsible for the majority of accidents on our roads.
There are numerous reasons for crashes involving pedal cyclists, one of the most common factors being error or illegality on the part of motorists.
As a police service, and in particular in the traffic branch, we deal with errant motorists 365 days of the year and they are the usual targets of our education and enforcement campaigns.
Please be assured that a great deal of effort is being put in, by myself and my colleagues in the traffic branch, to changing driver behaviour and prosecuting bad driving when the circumstances merit such action.
As the number of road users continues to rise we are all competing for a limited amount of road space and measures such as the red cycle lanes and boxes have been put in place to try and separate vehicles from pedal cycles.
However, there is anecdotal evidence that a minority of pedal cyclists are putting their safety at risk by disobeying some of the basic rules of the road; this includes riding through red traffic lights.
It is interesting to note that some of the pedal cycling public who were interviewed by the media on the first day of the campaign were quite vigorous in highlighting the number of fellow cyclists they see breaking the law.
Therefore, as enforcement has an important part to play in promoting road safety it is only prudent that we are seen to be taking action against offenders.
The aim of the campaign was not to persecute cyclists but to raise public awareness of the problem through our usual methods.
The media interest at the start of the campaign was very encouraging and there was good coverage on television, radio and in the newspapers. From this point of view the campaign has been a success, igniting debate on the issues raised.
Click through to Malcolm Wardlaw's article to have your say.