I got pulled over by the rossers on the way home tonight. It was just after 11pm, traffic was light, and was caught skipping a red light on my bicycle.
I’m not after sympathy. I know I won’t get any because motorists (me included) get really cheesed off by the frequent sight of lycra-clad urban cycle terrorists violating virtually every conceivable traffic law on a daily basis (me included).
First then, I apologise for breaking the law. I know that cyclists are subject to the laws of the road just as much as drivers. That said, I think I was not acting in an unreasonable way taking into account the full circumstances.
The red light in question controls a junction on Kingston Hill that only feeds the car park to Asda. Asda closed at 9pm. There were no pedestrians anywhere to be seen. There were two buses stopped at the lights, taking up both lanes, and rather than edge inside them, which, as every cyclist knows is very dangerous, I edged around them on the outside lane.
I’m on a bike. I have great all-round vision unlike a driver. I can hear everything around me, unlike a driver. I ride this route very regularly and have an acute awareness of the traffic light phasing. It was 11pm at night and traffic was light.
I was not moving much faster than walking speed as I reached front row of the grid and I could see there was no traffic or pedestrians coming out of Asda. Instead of coming to a complete stop and having to unhook those bloody stupid clippy shoes from the pedals I edged out across the junction and slowly kept moving forward.
Before I had cleared the junction the lights were green. I rose up off my saddle and pushed on quickly Lance Armstrong style, and after maybe 20 yards became aware of a marked police car pull up alongside me, blue lights flashing, sounding its horn. I always thought horns were only to be used as a warning, not as a way to grab one’s attention unnecessarily.
I pulled up – as it happens right in front of the next set of traffic lights which had just turned green. The police car stopped next to me, and between the two of us we were now blocking both southbound lanes, at a major intersection, with a trail of cars behind us now prevented from continuing up the road.
Officer: “You have just committed a moving traffic offence for which I can fine you £30”
Me: “You’re right and I’m sorry, but it is 11pm, Asda closed a few hours ago, I could see my passage was clear, I knew the lights were just about to change and I was travelling at walking speed” (I actually wanted to say “you are blocking the road because you can’t be arsed to pull over and get out of the car to speak to me properly – that is unnecessary obstruction of the highway, rude and pretty unprofessional” but having been a police office for 15 years in a previous life I knew better than to say want I really thought).
Officer: “If I have to stop, so do you”
Me: “I understand that and I’m sorry for wasting your time” (I actually wanted to say “If I have to stop, so do you is a pretty childish way of describing the situation surrounding my transgression. Grow up and go and do some proper police work and stop wasting everybody’s time”, but having been a police office for 15 years in a previous life I knew better than to say want I really thought).
I think I’ll get the train tomorrow just in case Kingston Old Bill read this, get the hump and come looking for me.