Founder of the Black Cyclists Network, Mani Arthur, has commented on the ‘negative attitudes parts of society have towards cyclists’ following his run in with the police over the weekend.
Arthur, who founded the network to “connect and encourage cyclists of colour,” was stopped and searched by a Met police officer on Sunday.
He says that the interaction began when a police officer asked him to move back behind the white line at traffic lights, a request he said would put him at risk by placing him in the blind spot of the driver of a small HGV. The officer then called him back and searched him, on the grounds that he ‘smelt of cannabis’.
The incident has attracted attention on social media, with the video shared on Instagram attracting 305 comments.
Taking to Twitter via the network’s feed, Arthur has said that the reaction has highlighted for him the way cyclists are viewed by the general public.
“The real issue for me is the attitude certain people have towards cyclists. The incident showed that we have a lot of work to do to change the negative attitude parts of our society have towards cyclists.
“I felt the same negative attitude from the police officer who approached me. He saw me in a precarious position but still insisted I put myself in harms way. At no point did he acknowledge that he was putting a vulnerable road user in a life threatening position – even after I explained the danger to him,” he said.
After thanking the cycling community for its “support” and “solidarity”, he concluded: “in my opinion, the most dangerous thing we face as cyclists is a society that does not respect us or view us as vulnerable road users worthy of protecting.”
Asked for comment on the response from Arthur, a Met police spokesperson said: “As a major global city where millions of journeys are made by various means every day, our officers work incredibly hard to reduce the dangers on our roads, including regular engagement with the cycling community.
“Bespoke programmes, such as Exchanging Places which has been pioneered by the Met, are specifically designed to highlight the dangers that HGVs can pose to cyclists.
“The Met also has a dedicated Cycle Safety Team designed to ensure safe cycling within London – part of their role is to investigate ‘close passes’ from drivers in respect of cyclists, including encouraging the use of headcams to record incidents.
“Our commitment to Vision Zero, which aims to eliminate deaths and serious injuries from London’s transport network by 2041, places the wellbeing of all road users at the heart of what we do.”
They added: “We are aware of this stop and search and will endeavour to make contact with the cyclist involved to establish their views of the incident.”
UK government stats show that over the course of 2017/2018, there were three stop and searches for every 1,000 white people versus 29 for every 1,000 black people – with the latter 9.5 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.
Statistics suggest the divide is growing – in 2016/2017, black people were eight times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, up from four times more likely in 2014/2015.