The Metropolitan Police is to run an indefinite campaign of road-side safety operations as part of efforts to further cut the number of cyclists killed and seriously injured.
Last year the force mounted ‘Operation Safeway’ in which hundreds of officers were stationed on busy roads to issue advice and Penalty Charge Notices to lorry drivers, motorists and cyclists engaged in dangerous and unlawful behaviour.
The operation was launched after six cyclists died in a two week period.
Some campaigners characterised Safeway as an attempt to blame cyclists and victims for accidents, a suggestion denied by both City Hall and Scotland Yard who say less than a third of the 14,000 PCNs issued were received by cyclists.
On Tuesday the Mayor said the operation had played a key part in cutting the number of serious injuries involving cyclists by 28% and announced that ‘Son of Safeway’ deployments will take place on at least two days every month.
These unannounced deployments will see up to 1,000 police officers and staff stationed simultaneously at around 100 junctions in inner London.
According to official Transport for London statistics, the number of serious injuries involving cyclists is down from 657 in 2012 to 475 in 2013. The number of cycle journeys which end in the cyclist being killed or seriously injured is also down to “around one in every 433,000” – the lowest level since 2006.
Mr Johnson told journalists that although he welcomed the fall in KSI’s, “one death or serious injury is one too many”.
He added that enforcing road laws would continue to play a part in making the roads safer and would sit alongside his planned quietways, which will create cycle routes on car-free roads, and ongoing efforts to improve the safety of HGVs.
Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor’s cycling commissioner, said although the building of new segregated lanes and routes would help further reduce accidents, it was necessary for all road users to take care and “use those roads safely.”
He added: “Our work to change road users’ behaviour is not, as some cyclists seem to think, a distraction from the ‘real job’ of building segregated routes and junctions. The truth is that we need to do both, and we will do both.”
Superintendent Rob Revill from the Met’s Transport Command, added: “Operation Safeway has significantly contributed towards a change in road user behaviour, so we will continue to carry out operations at busy junctions, in addition to our daily road safety work to ensure that people continue to act legally and safely on the roads.
“It is so important that this change in behaviour is now maintained and we are not complacent. Remember, nothing is worth risking yours or another person’s life on the road.”
Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly, welcomed the fall in incidents but said there was “absolutely no grounds for complacency”.
Ms Pidgeon wants TfL and the Mayor to include slight injuries, which increased last year, in their analysis of road safety and said a “huge amount of further work is necessary to make London’s roads safer for all cyclists”.
London Cycling Campaign spokesperson Charlie Lloyd said it was “rather fanciful” to credit the fall in incidents to Operation Safeway and suggested that a reduced number of journeys, caused by cold weather, “are likely to be a significant factor in the year-on-year reduction.”