Islington’s ‘danger’ riders targeted by cycle police

DANGEROUS cyclists and motorists in Islington have been targeted by police officers on bikes during a five-day blitz.

The Metropolitan Police’s Cycle Task Force – traffic officers entirely based on bicycles – came to Islington last week because residents are fed-up with anti-social riders and drivers.

Only two weeks ago NSPCC chief Dr Colin Hawkes died after his bicycle was in collision with a car in Carleton Road, Holloway.

Met cycle cops targeted problem areas such as Holloway Road, Blackstock Road, Highbury Corner, Upper Street and Pentonville Road. The Task Force made four other arrests and witnessed more than 200 offences. They even arrested a man who was wanted for attempted murder.

The Islington Gazette spent an hour with the cycling police officers last Friday.

Two officers on bicycles patrolled the busy junctions between Angel Tube Station and Rosebery Avenue while an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) vehicle checked the details of every passing vehicle. At least two cyclists were pulled over for ignoring red lights.

The Task Force issue a �16 fine for minor offences – which is a reduction from a �30 on-the-spot fine. Offenders can pay the �16 after viewing road safety information online.

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Sergeant Simon Castle, who is spearheading the Cycle Task Force, said “I used to work as a traffic officer and my job involved dealing with fatalities and serious collisions on a day to day basis.

“I dealt with too many incidents. My aim now is to prevent things happening. The goal is something positive rather than something negative. The key for cyclists is to be aware of everything that is going on around you. They must expect the unexpected.

“It is too late to be lying in the back of an ambulance saying I was right. Cyclists must ride defensively.”

Cyclists were not the only people falling foul of the law last Friday morning. One van driver – caught using a mobile phone while driving - was arrested after trying to drive off.

During the operation last week 11 vehicles were seized for having no insurance or due to licence breaches, and nine vehicles were found to be too dangerous to be on the road.

The operation was prompted by Islington’s top cop Chief Superintendent Mike Wise’s admission in November that police do not enforce 30mph speed limits. Caroline Russell, chairwoman of pedestrian group Islington Living Streets, said: “I showed Detective Chief Inspector Nick Chalmers, of the Met’s Roadsafe team, the Gazette’s story about the lack of enforcement. He did some research and found that Islington has a disproportionate number of cycling and motorcycling collisions and said there would be some enforcement.”