There's a bizarre regularity to it.
The new academic year is starting so Cambridgeshire Constabulary decide to have a crackdown on cyclists. More or less an annual event, although last year we had an extra one because we had the new Police Commissioner who especially despises us. He (like councillors and the Police) doesn't need or have any data to back up his assertion that we're deserving of special measures. So we sometimes get EXTRA enforcement measures against us, especially when brazenly anti-cyclist measures are employed by the City and County Councils with the intention of using the Police to force cyclists into life threatening situations on the flimsy pretext that we must use cycle lanes so hazardous many people fear to do so.
Usually plod set out stall on one of the well lit, slow paced city centre roads, often just after dark, waiting to nab newbie student cyclists who are racing home before it gets dark, just after the clocks have changed, on routes where the visibility is entirely constrained by the street design rather than the ample street lighting. They don't much patrol the darker suburban roads because of course you don't get so many newbie students to ticket there - to hell with the fact that these are actually the places its more hazardous to ride on without lights.
Once in a while they'll pick a route on which you can only know you're breaking the law if you've got incredible in-depth knowledge of traffic control orders - where there is no sign telling you that the cycle route has ended flanked by signs telling you it IS a cycle route and upon which only a complete idiot would think you can't ride.
Naturally these crackdowns aren't about reducing harm. If they were, they'd be basing this on real stats which show us that very few cyclists in Cambridge are injured after dark, that they're not causing lots of injuries on pavements, etc. They'd be looking at dealing with whats actually harming both cyclists and pedestrians, namely, motorists. For in-depth analysis of such stats, go no further than Cottenham Cyclist.
So this years new blitz, cheered on by chief trollumnist for drumming up cyclist hate at the local rag Ramond 'Britney' Brown, shouldn't come as a shock. Its not meant to change cyclist behaviour, and its not meant to make us safer - it can't be or it would be a crackdown on those things that demonstrably, measurably and repeatedly kill cyclists. This is meant to remind the motorists that Cambridge Police and their Commissioner love them, not us.
And the result? Nothing changes. You can crack down on students all you like, you'll stop some riding, some will buy lights or not ride on the pavements, but any changes are as transitory as the student population itself. But you can do it every year, get a good number of 'hits' every year, and claim a decent headline every year. It is however a waste of time and resources, both of which could be spent on policing the things that maim and kill cyclists. Or, in other words, because resources are spent on the wrong thing, people may die. And their blood will be on our Police Commissioners
So obviously the local campaign group Cambridge Cycling Campaign are up in arms about this and threatening demonstrations, refusal to cooperate with a blatantly and openly anti-cyclist police commissioner and... errr... well, no, lets wait to see what they'll come out with. This needs a robust, direct and vocal response. It is a disproportionate policy that only alienates the Police force from cyclists in this city, and while we should not and must not countenance any idea that rejecting this crap is in any way an endorsement of anti-social cycling, we should insist that policing of cycling matters must be evidence based, with a strong ethos of protecting cyclists from that which causes them harm every bit as much as enforcing the law upon cyclists. And anything short of that should be treated as what it is - ant-cyclist bias worthy of complete boycott. None of this 'well we should police ALL road users' crap. Police based on capacity to cause harm and the recorded probability of causing harm - which means police cycling LESS and police motoring MORE.
The police will once again prioritise cyclists on the pavement while openly ignoring motorists breaking exactly the same law. Apparently stopping motorists from using the pavement is not in the public interest but stopping cyclists is. Its pretty clear that Cambridgeshire Constabulary only really want to look after the motoring public, isn't it?