Police and local councils have been urged to ensure action is taken against all private drivers who trespass into segregated and mandatory cycle lanes.
Transport for London and local councils are investing hundreds of millions of pounds in a series of segregated cycle routes and cycle-only lanes as part of Boris Johnson’s ambition to boost the number of cyclists.
However there have been reports of vehicles entering the bike-only lanes, potentially endangering cyclists who may be less alert to, or less prepared for, the sudden appearance of motor vehicles in their path.
Despite the significant public investment in the routes, and the dangers straying motorists present to bike users, transport bosses say they may not always prosecute or issue Penalty Charge Notices to drivers.
Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon has been told that TfL “take into consideration the fact these cycle tracks are very new and that it will inevitably take some drivers a little time to get used to the significant changes” when deciding what, if any, action is taken.
This approach means drivers who enter bike-only spaces could be dealt with more leniently than those committing other traffic offences.
In a letter to Ms Pidgeon, TfL justified its approach by saying “it is likely that a number of contraventions in the early days will be genuine mistakes”.
The AM and mayoral candidate has criticised the agency’s stance, saying: “It is vital that full enforcement action is taken by the Met and London Boroughs against cars that drive or park in any segregated and mandatory cycle lanes”.
Pidgeon, who has long backed action to improve the safety of London’s roads, added: “I certainly do not accept the argument that discretion should often be shown to motorists due to some cycle lanes being new in London. The rules are the rules and need to be enforced.
“The only occasions where I think any exemption is ever acceptable is when emergency vehicles are acting out of real necessity to protect people”.