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New Kent Road cycle lane: are police being ‘overzealous’?

London SE1 website team

Southwark Council has asked the Metropolitan Police and TfL to review its enforcement action against cyclists using the westbound cycle lane parallel with New Kent Road.

For the past two weeks the Metropolitan Police has been running its Operation Safeway road safety initiative with police officers and police community support officers stationed at major intersections during peak hours.

Cyclist Kristian Gregory received a £50 fine on Thursday morning as he approached the end of the westbound cycle path along New Kent Road and has uploaded a video of his encounter to YouTube.

Cllr Mark Williams, Southwark's cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: "Although this is not a Southwark Council managed road, we've already contacted the police asking them to review enforcement action on this stretch as cyclists are forced to cross the pavement to get safely across the New Kent Road.

"We want to encourage and increase the number of cyclists in Southwark, but need to get the balance right between what looks like overzealous action in this case and the safety of others on roads and pavements.

"I am also asking Transport for London to look urgently at the design of the cycle path on the New Kent Road which appears to be the cause of these problems.

"This highlights how we need better design for cyclists across London, which is why we are leading the way by bringing in Danish and Dutch experts to help come up with the best and safest solutions to get more people to cycle and significantly reduce casualties at the same time."

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "It would be inappropriate to comment on this individual case however the cyclist has the right to challenge this ticket through the appeal process.

"Operation Safeway takes place twice each month and sees hundreds of officers deployed at junctions across the capital, enforcing road safety and giving advice to all road users during rush hours.

"It is designed to reduce risks to pedestrians, motorcyclists and pedal cyclists, and enforce road traffic laws including cycling on the footpath.

"Operation Safeway is an intelligence-led operation, with deployments determined by collision data. There have been a number of personal injury collisions along the New Kent Road, making it a suitable location for Operation Safeway."

The pedestrian crossing of New Kent Road near the Meadow Row junction forms part of the Elephant & Castle cycle bypass and was formerly a 'toucan' crossing where cyclists could ride across legally.

Two years ago Mayor of London Boris Johnson publicly acknowledged that cyclists use the crossing as if it still had toucan status.

Answering a question from London assembly member Jenny Jones in 2012, the Mayor said: "When a bus lane was introduced on New Kent Road approximately 10 years ago, the toucan crossing was converted to a pelican crossing following concerns about the reduction in capacity caused by the removal of a lane for general traffic.

"Since then, cyclists have continued to use the facility as if it were a toucan crossing.

"To enable construction works to take place at the major development site on the corner of Elephant Road and New Kent Road, TfL has temporarily relocated the pelican crossing 50 metres eastward.

"However, there was no plan to install a new toucan crossing [and] an unintentional error was made in some of the consultation materials which referred to a 'relocated toucan' when in actual fact it is a 'relocated pelican'.

"TfL is continuing to discuss the long term plans for cycling facilities in the local area with Southwark Council and their regeneration partner, Lend Lease.

"This includes investigating how the eastern cycle bypass could be improved and, will consider whether a toucan, pelican or puffin crossing facility should be reinstated."

• Southwark Council's chief executive Eleanor Kelly this week said that a draft version of the borough's new cycling strategy will be published for consultation in the autumn.

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