With the aim of tackling the rising number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in the county and defusing growing tensions between cyclists, motorists and residents, a new advertising campaign has been launched by Surrey Police and Surrey County Council.

According to Surrey Police, the county has seen a big increase in the number of leisure cyclists taking to its roads as a result of the Olympics, Tour of Britain and RideLondon events as well as a growing number of sportives in the region.

Part of the county’s Drive Smart initiative, the adverts appear on billboards, buses, local radio stations, social media and print media, including Cycling Weekly (August 22, p.27) and are aimed at encouraging mutual understanding and cooperation amongst different road users.

We’re asking people to know their capabilities, to cycle considerately, and in some areas not for example to cycle four or five abreast,” superintendent Chris Moon told Cycling Weekly. “We’re also trying to get motorists to slow down, to be more considerate and to give a wider berth to cyclists, and to be aware and to be tolerant.”

The campaign follows flyers handed out to cyclists around Box Hill in September 2011 which warned them of a potential £1000 fine for ‘careless and inconsiderate cycling,’ and a letter sent to cycling clubs earlier that year warning them of complaints of anti-social cycling (CW September 22, 2011).

“We’re always looking for innovative ways of getting in touch with people,” added Moon. “I think Police communication over the years in many areas has been very traditional [yet] the way that people access information is changing these days.”

Q&A with Superintendent Chris Moon, Surrey Police

Cycling Weekly spoke to Surrey Police’s Superintendent Chris Moon [right] to ask him some more questions about their advertising campaign.

Is bad cycling and driving a problem?
We’ve seen an increase in the frequency of cycling related casualities in the last few years. In 2008 we had 50 cyclists killed or seriously injured in Surrey and that’s risen to 124 in 2012. That’s coincided with an increase in the popularity of leisure cycling in Surrey off the back of the fantastic success of the Olympics and now RideLondon. But alongside the increase in casualties we’ve also had an increase in the tension between motorists and cyclists and local communities.

What message are you trying to get across?
We’re asking people to know their capabilities, to cycle considerately, and in some areas not for example to cycle four or five abreast. We’re also trying to get motorists to slow down, to be more considerate and to give a wider berth to cyclists, and to be aware and to be tolerant.

Who are you targeting?

Our focus primarily is on those new to the sport who don’t know the roads around Surrey and who potentially don’t know the capabilities of the bikes they have, and perhaps aren’t aware of how their riding is causing a nuisance or is causing some frustration amongst motorists.

What happens if I phone 101 to report bad driving or cycling?
If it is something happening now and it is dangerous, then we would look to respond to it as we would do anything else. If it is something that has happened, and we can say it is happening a lot in that area, then we can target some activity around there, whether it’s in terms of enforcement or education.

How will you measure the campaign’s success?
The main one is number of casualties. But we’ve got to be realistic that this is a long running national issue, and we want to encourage people to come to Surrey to enjoy cycling and not dissuade them. The second is a reduction in the number of complaints we receive both relating to motorists driving inconsiderately and cyclists riding inconsiderately.

How would you respond to those who would argue that resources could be better spent?
We’re out there trying to save people’s lives. That is the bottom line, and that is the main objective of this campaign.

Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!

  • Scott James

    Ha! What a joke this article is.

    I’ve recently moved to Surrey and the state of the roads are a mess with potholes and uneven surfaces the norm. I was out cycling the other day when a moron in a Megan sat on my back wheel and blasted their horn at me for no reason whatsoever, then sped off hurling abuse out of the window. Motorists regularly overtake cyclists on bends and blind hills and I live in a small village with a 30mph speed limit and idiots blast through it every day. If plod put up a speed camera they would cure the national debt! I’ve basically given up cycling after 30+ years.

    Surrey roads and their boy-racers in their mum’s Corsa with a big exhaust are not good for cycling and the police are not interested.

    I am a motorist and I don’t behave like this. Why do others? I guess it’s because there is no deterrent…

  • Jacky

    I Totally agree with Roberts comments…very well put.
    I cannot comment on the specifics of surrey but I have been a keen road cyclist for 35 years and a car driver for 30.
    what we need to appreciate is not only is there an increase in cyclists, but the volume of traffic has also increased dramatically. 35 years ago not every house had a car, now most have 2!
    As for the fines for killing a cyclist or dangerous cyclining…. I think if a film campaign was launched showing the long term effects that serious injury or death cause to both the cyclist and motorist it would have more weight that fines.
    Imagine how a driver may feel living with the death of a cyclist on his conscience or a careless cyclist causing an accident that disabled himself.
    I strongly believe that the new to cycling people, especially the urban commuters in near camouflage outfits need to appreciate that a cyclist is nearly invisible to a car driver at the best of times…there are so many distractions now, mobile ringing, sat navs and smoking that you are already at a disadvantage. And car drivers need to realize that driving into a pot hole or a sunken drain for a cyclist may well throw them straight under your wheels, which is why we ride out of the gutter.
    AWARENESS and tolerance on all sides is needed and perhaps the highway code and theory tests need to be modernized to cope with the extra cars and cyclists.

  • Alan

    OK, so it’s Shropshire we are talking about in my case, but you catch my drift.

    What chance do we have when police drivers themselves contravene the overtaking guidance in para 163 of the Highway Code, as well as ignore blatantly dangerous driving standards in others?

    Today, only a 48-mile tootle around B roads, two such incidents:

    i) a line of 5 cars overtakes me, considerably

  • Robert

    P.s it is also interesting that the wording of the original police leaflet implied that a £1000 fine was the usual penalty for ‘inconsiderate cycling’. This apparently includes cyclists ‘causing a motorist to slow down’, which was one of the issues that Surrey police appeared to be concerned about. Once again the original campaign seemed to do little more than validate the poor attitudes of many motorists, many of whom seem to think that they have suffered a great injustice if they have to slow down even for a few moments. To be fair, perhaps Surrey police didn’t hand out leaflets to motorists as one reading “Please note, killing a cyclist might see you being fined as much as £135 or being required to spend a couple of hours at an ‘awareness’ session” would only encourage aggressive and dangerous driving!

  • Herbie

    How about just pro-active zero-tolerance monitoring of road use? I see bad driving ignored by the police day in day out, unless there is an incident. If they are trying to save lives, why no reprimand drivers and cyclists where they are acting unreasonably – turning left without indicating, overtaking when no room and they could catch the next car in seconds anyway, straying into advance cyclists stop boxes or hash boxes, etc.!

  • Robert

    I wonder if I am the only one who feels that, in reality, this campaign will be used as an excuse to target cyclists, rather than inconsiderate and aggressive motorists? Much of the problem here is that the police tend to have a very car centric view of ‘road safety’. A good example is the way police often target cyclists who are riding, quite legally, two-abreast. The Highway Code states that motorists should only overtake when it is safe to do so, and contains an illustration of the correct procedure to use when passing cyclists. That is, indicate and move out across the centre or lane marking, giving the cyclist as much room as if they were a car. In many countries this minimum overtaking space is specified, usually 1.5 m. Given this, it is clear that even if cyclists are riding in single file in the correct ‘primary position’, it is simply not possible for a motorist using a normal ‘one lane each direction’ road to overtake a cyclist safely and with due consideration if there is oncoming traffic. It also follows that whether cyclists are riding two-abreast or not is irrelevant. Single or two-abreast drivers simply should not be overtaking if there is oncoming traffic, and if there is no traffic there is also ample room to pass cyclists riding two abreast. Unfortunately, the police often seem to take the view that cyclists should ride in the ‘danger area’ at the edge of the road, at risk from debris, potholes and carelessly opened car doors, so that motorists can blast past in the same lane with only a few inches to spare even when there is oncoming traffic. Will Surrey police actually expect motorists to drive according to the illustration in The Highway Code and prosecute those who fail to do so? I very much doubt it!