Thursday 27 November 2014

The day I saw police mount a checkpoint and treat cyclists like motorists

– JMcD

Published 18/06/2014 | 02:30

A red stop sign was used to stop cyclists during the exercise.
A red stop sign was used to stop cyclists during the exercise.

SITTING outside our hotel in Berlin recently, my wife and I noticed police nearby.

Their purpose was to stop cyclists who had infringed traffic regulations at a junction some 150-metres earlier and had been reported by a colleague to the waiting uniformed police.

Several cyclists were stopped during our time there.

In all cases, ID was sought and checked by a policeman sitting in a police vehicle parked out of sight in a side street nearby while at least five minutes was spent chastising the 'culprit' and explaining the rules of the road.

Adults cycling on the footpath were also stopped but, in their cases, ID was not sought and the cyclists were allowed to continue after a lecture – but this time on the road. The average delay for each cyclist was 10 minutes. I cannot say whether 'tickets' were issued or summonses would follow.

It was evident that some cyclists became concerned when they noticed the uniformed police, probably because they suspected they had committed an offence. One got off her bicycle and walked on the footpath while her eight-year old daughter cycled ahead on the footpath. The daughter called back to her mother who could not avoid moving forward – into the arms of the law; and succumbed to a vigorous scolding, ID check and delay of 15 minutes.

I thought that if a similar exercise were to be introduced here, it may help to reduce the incidents of cyclists breaking lights and cycling on footpaths.

By the way, stopping a cyclist was a formal exercise. A red circular stop sign was held up in front of the approaching cyclist and he or she was directed on to the footpath. ID was sought and handed over to a colleague while the 'stopper' chastised the 'culprit'. It was a labour-intensive exercise (the 'spotter', probably a video cameraperson for evidence should it be needed, five on the footpath and one in the car – seven or eight in total) but the exercise took only 45 minutes or so and probably made its point.

*Let us know what you think

ecunningham@independent.ie

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