UK Police force faces Twitter backlash for telling riders to #cyclelikeyoudrive

Cycling UK suggests the unit should consider reducing road dangers instead of targeting cyclists

Police officer
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Merseyside Police's Road Policing Unit has faced backlash on Twitter after suggesting people should cycle like they drive, following reports of two cyclists running a red light.

Reminding cyclists that red traffic lights apply to them, like all road users, the unit highlights the two incidents before using the hashtag #cyclelikeyoudrive. 

The Road Policing Unit stated on Twitter (opens in new tab): "Two pedal cyclists reported in as many minutes after both observed contravening red traffic lights. First at Kensington and the second at Durning Road. Remember folks, #CYCLELIKEYOUDRIVE (red lights are for cyclists too)."

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However, the tweet has received plenty of criticism on the social media platform, with users questioning the motive behind the message. There are suggestions that the tweet unjustly portrays all drivers as acting within the law and safely, while cyclists are unfairly targeted at the same time.

Indeed, Cycling UK responded to the original tweet, arguing roads would become more dangerous, not less, if cyclists start to cycle like they drive, as Merseyside Police suggests.

The cycling charity stated: "Over 99% of pedestrian deaths each year involve someone driving, and on average 5 or 6 of those deaths a driver running a red light - but want more people to cycle like they drive. Time they looked at casualty stats and considered a road danger reduction approach."

When looking at the statistics, this assertion is justified. Of the 23,529 people killed or seriously injured (opens in new tab) (KSI) from all traffic in 2020, only two per cent were caused by the individual being hit by a cyclist. What Cycling UK argues is that cycles pose little danger to others when compared with motor vehicles, due in part to the combination of speed and weight, or lack thereof, riders travel at. 

Another reply argued the tweet unfairly targets the majority of cyclists while at the same time suggesting all drivers are safe on the roads. 

The user said: "This tweet is hugely misguided and based on two false assumptions: 1) that all cyclists drive (they don't); 2) that all motorists drive safely, respectfully and within the law (they definitely don't). You are between implicit bias and downright prejudice and should know better." 

Multiple other users responded less diplomatically, highlighting images of overturned vehicles as reasons why riders should perhaps refrain from cycling like they drive.  

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Merseyside Police did not respond to Cycling Weekly's request for comment on the situation. 

This isn't the first time Merseyside Police's Roads Policing Unit has offered this suggestion, though.

In May 2022, it said: “Many cyclists can exceed urban speed limits, yet brakes on pedal cycles can be weak. Think, if a child or elderly person were to unexpectedly step into your path, could you stop in time? Cycle like you drive, with curtesy [sic], care and within the law.”

That, too, received criticism.

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Staff Writer

Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.