Police chief candidate ignores vulnerable road users – updated below, 3/3 responses.
Leicester Cycling Campaign Group (LCCG) believes that cyclists and other vulnerable road users are being ignored by one of the three police chief candidates. We contacted all three of the candidates for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections to take place on Thursday 15 November. The question posed on 8 November was simple: ‘On behalf of the Leicester Cycle Campaign Group, can you tell me your policy regarding road safety? In particular what will you do to protect vulnerable road users?’
The Labour candidate, Sarah Russell, replied within the hour. Suleman Nagdi (Independent) responded after a little over a day. Both their responses are available below. At the time of writing, nothing has been heard from the Conservative candidate, Clive Loader.
This is just not good enough. Safety on our city and county roads should be a crucial issue for anyone seeking to take responsibility for Leicester and Leicestershire’s police force. The high-profile incidents involving Bradley Wiggins and Shane Sutton have shown how any cyclist can become an accident statistic in the blink of an eye. And the recent tragic death of a cyclist in Bruntingthorpe illustrates how high the stakes can be.
It is therefore deeply concerning that one of the PCC candidates could not even take the time to respond to our enquiry on the subject. Apart from being discourteous, it suggests a total lack of regard for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.
The LCCG is not a party-political organisation, and we would not seek to dictate how, or even if, you should vote on 15 November. But if you have any interest in the safety of vulnerable road users on our streets, then we would urge you to view how the three candidates have responded to our question and take this into account when making your decision.
We sent the email below to the prospective Police Commissioners for Leicestershire Police Force on November 8th. They are Suleman Nagdi (Independent, firstname.lastname@example.org), Sarah Russell (Labour, email@example.com) and Sir Clive Loader (Conservative, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Dear PCC Candidate.
On behalf of the Leicester Cycle Campaign Group, can you tell me your policy regarding road safety?
In particular what will you do to protect vulnerable road users?
Leicester Cycle Campaign Group
We will update this page with their responses.
Sarah Russell replied just 40 minutes after we mailed her, with this
Thank you for your email. As a cyclist myself I understand the concerns you raise and think the answer is probably not very straight forward.
In terms of how the Police respond to accidents and near misses involving cyclists I think it varies, I have friends who have had a really positive and proactive response and others where sadly the responsive has been more dismissive.
I would like to see better connection between the Police, local Councils and cycling groups when planning road changes and looking at accident ‘black spots’ so that we engineer out problems wherever possible.
I would also like to see the Police make full use of ‘safer driving’ courses that can have a positive impact on getting drivers to have more awareness of other road user and also the powers to charge people when driving without due attention (using a mobile phone etc).
Whilst I wil not be able to influence operational decisions made by the Police if I am elected as Commissioner I would seek to work with cycling groups (I’m aware these don’t exists everywhere in the Force area but there are a number made up of casual, commuting and club cyclists), local Councils and senior Police officers to identify problem areas and responses and look at ways to improve them.
I hope this answers your questions, please don’t hesitate to come back to me if you have any further concerns or questions.
Update 2 – Suleman Nagdi
Suleman got back to us in a day and a half with this –
Dear Mr Scull,
Road safety is very important and we must ensure that roads are safe for all that use them including pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle drivers. We must work hard together to educate and inform those who have behaved irresponsibly on the roads through a process of education. Recently, I have liaised with Friends of the Earth over a proposal to introduce a 20mph speed limit.
As a community volunteer for over 25 years, my expertise lies in the ability to listen to the needs of the community and then relay this to government and statutory authorities by acting as the bridge between the community and statutory authorities. Should I become successful in my bid to be elected as PCC, I will continue to liaise with people from the community such as yourself on important issues such as road safety.
Thank you very much for contacting me regarding this very important issue.
At time of last update (10pm on 13th Nov), Clive Loader had yet to respond.
Update 14th Nov – response from Clive Loader, copied below.
Dear Mr Scull
I can only apologise that did not reply to your email before but, I have to admit, yours was in a ‘pile’ of over 50 received on one day to all of which I thought that I had responded; looking back, I found that I missed yours. Again, my apologies.
Of course, safely for cyclists on our streets is a very high priority for any PCC – particularly so at a time when, quite rightly, we are extolling the virtues of using old-fashioned ‘muscle power’ rather than increasing, even further, vehicle pollution. So we need to do all that we can to make cyclists as safe as possible.
How? There are several strands, I think.
One – the roads. We need, wherever possible, to encourage local authorities to allow bespoke cycle lanes etc – thus providing some physical separation between vehicle and cyclist.
Two – training. We need to ensure that training is available to reduce the risks – training for all road users. For the cyclists (I am old enough to remember passing my Cycling Proficiency Test – administered, as I recall, by the local ‘bobby’) it must include such dangers as those imposed by large lorries turning at junctions unaware that there is a cyclist alongside etc, or the stupidity of ‘jumping’ red traffic lights. And we also need vehicle drivers to have an increased awareness of the dangers to cyclists – this would imply, perhaps, an raised emphasis during the Theory and Practical Driving Tests.
Three – equipment. Firstly, there is still, I judge, an element of our society who feel that wearing a helmet is, somehow, ‘un-cool’. We need to address this – through teaching, through training, and through youngsters seeing those who they admire wearing cycle helmets (e.g. a photo of Leicester City footballers /Leicester Tigers players wearing them……?). And, secondly, there is the issue of proper cycle maintenance….. again, previously a part of the Proficiency Test in days of yore.
Four – police reaction. There is clearly a role for the police in helping here. Firstly, when they see people on bikes doing silly/illegal things (e.g. going through red traffic lights) they need to stop and issue warnings etc. Secondly, and most critically, they need to do the same when they see motorists endangering cyclists (overly aggressive driving, overtaking much too close to vulnerable cyclists, using mobile phones while driving etc); I will encourage them to do so.
There are doubtless plenty of other areas where you, as the expert, will feel that increased emphasis/action is needed. I look forward to hearing your ideas. All that I can say is that, if elected, I will work closely with groups such as yours, take your advice, and then act upon it to increase the overall safety of cyclists on the roads of Leics and Rutland.
I do hope that this goes some way to answering your questions – if not, pse come back to me either by email or on the mobile phone number below.
Best wishes, Clive