CDF is fundraising to support cyclists contesting FPNs

CDF has agreed to support one cyclist’s challenge of a FPN he was given when he strayed out of a sub-standard cycle lane onto a shared use path. The cyclist, Kristian Gregory, had intended to cross a road that was sign-posted for cyclists but was stopped in his tracks by a Police Community Support Officer who slapped him with the £50 fine.

Watch Kristian’s helmet camera footage of the incident

While Kristian is pleased the Metropolitan Police have now agreed to put a stop to excessive fining at this location following his complaints, Kristian now wants to have not only his fine annulled but also those of other cyclists fined for similarly trivial ‘offences’.

He believes it is not in the public interest to prosecute him, or others fined at this same location, not least because the cycle track itself is poorly designed and signed, creating legal uncertainty.

h3. Reconsider policing priorities

He also wants the Met to reconsider the priorities of its ‘Operation Safeway’ crackdown on driving and cycling offences – launched following a spate of 6 cyclist fatalities in November 2013 – to focus on evidence-based enforcement that targets the real dangers cyclists face.

CDF is appealing for funds to help Kristian fight, and others like him, fight unjust fines, and to support CDF in its efforts to promote justice for cycling and cyclists. Please donate what you can at www.justgiving.com/FPNfightingfund

h3. Grounds for appeal

Kristian was fined by a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) taking part in Operation Safeway, a high-profile Met Police initiative aimed at improving both driver and cyclist safety following a spate of 6 cyclists’ deaths in November 2013. However Kristian believes that fining cyclists for minor alleged legal breaches has nothing to do with improving cyclists’ safety.

For one thing, the signing where Kristian was fined fails to show clearly where, if anywhere, cyclists are allowed to turn right from the cycle track to cross the road. Moreover, the crossing in question is a pelican rather than a toucan crossing – i.e. cyclists have no clear rights to use it either, despite the signing advising them to use it! Thirdly, the cycle track which Kristian allegedly strayed from is narrow, well below national design guidelines – there is even a phone box obstructing it at one point. Finally, if cyclists are required to turn tightly to reach the crossing, as the PCSO suggests he should have done, this would be a further breach of national design guidelines.

Alternatively, if Kristian did stray from the cycle track, this is at most a trivial breach of the rules (a ‘de minimis’ offence, in legal jargon), hence the PCSO should have exercised discretion in deciding whether to fine him, in accordance with advice from Ministers that fines for pavement cycling should not be issued to cyclists using pavements in a considerate manner for their own safety.

Kristian said: “Despite showing consideration for all other users of the path, and in spite of instructions to ‘use discretion’, I was handed a fixed penalty notice for £50. I fail to see how this fine meets with the objective of the operation. I also believe that FPNs should serve some public interest, but what is the public interest in fining me for this?”

h3. Local Council backing

Kristian has been backed by Cllr Mark Williams, transport portfolio holder at Southwark Council. After Kristian’s fine was issued, Southwark Council wrote to the Met and to Transport for London. In response, the local police and Boris Johnson’s cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan have both agreed to put an end to what Williams describes as “over zealous” policing at this location. However, Kristian’s own fine has yet to be cancelled.

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