West Yorkshire Police handed out only 17 fines for illegal cycling last year, new figures have revealed, prompting accusations that officers are turning a blind eye to bicycle users breaking the law.
Figures obtained by lawyer Nick Freeman, also known as ‘Mr Loophole’, reveal that the force has issued many fewer fixed penalty notices to cyclists in recent years than other similar-sized forces.
Statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that four of the country’s biggest forces have seen sharp falls in the number of fines handed out for offences such as cycling on the pavement and failing to stop at junctions.
In 2015, 17 fixed penalties were handed out by West Yorkshire Police to cyclists. The total is down from 23 in 2014, 39 in 2015 and 47 in 2012.
Merseyside Police handed out 369 fines in 2015 and 552 in 2014. Greater Manchester Police issued 114 fixed penalty notices for cycling offences last year, 150 in 2014 and 196 in 2013.
Mr Freeman, a specialist in defending people accused of traffic offences, said the lack of fines handed out in West Yorkshire was “astonishing”. He said: “Every day, I see a plethora of cyclists breaking a number of laws including riding on footpaths, riding through red lights and cycling at night without lights. Yet, because they are unidentifiable, coupled with a dwindling number of traffic police who regard these offences as low priority - they get away with it.”
Martin Stanley, chairman of Leeds Cycling Campaign, which lobbies for improved cycling provision in the city, described Mr Freeman’s comments as “incredibly hypocritical”.
He said: “He claims to be acting in the interests of safety but he has made a career of allowing dangerous drivers to continue driving by exploiting loopholes in the law. If Nick checked the statistics he would see that only two per cent of pedestrians injured on pavements are due to people on bikes compared to 58 per cent injured by drivers.”