ONE in five cyclists are “putting their lives at risk” by jumping red lights, an Oxford Mail investigation has revealed.
Our survey also showed as many as three in five Oxford bike users failing to use lights early in the morning and around half not wearing a helmet.
Our reporter observed cyclists repeatedly riding on pavements and failing to signal over two one-hour periods at the junctions of St Aldates and Thames Street and Ferry Hinksey Road and Botley Road.
The findings last night received mixed responses from campaigners, with the Oxford Pedestrians’ Association calling for more police enforcement.
But the chairman of cyclists’ group Cyclox denied the problems our test highlighted were serious concerns, especially compared to the dangers posed by motorists.
Pedestrians’ association chairman Sushila Dhall said: “Everyone seems to be angry with each other in Oxford.
“Cyclists are putting their lives at risk by going through red lights and not using lights on their bikes.
“And although I don’t think it is necessarily helpful to fine people, the police do need to enforce bikes stopping at traffic lights.
“And we are concerned about people riding on the pavement because pedestrians are more vulnerable than cyclists.”
But she added: “Cyclists are also vulnerable road users and there are things that the two can campaign on together,” she added.
Cyclox chairman James Styring said cyclists not stopping at red lights was mostly “a harmless crime”. He said: “The reason the police don’t take very seriously this kind of incident is because very few accidents happen when cyclists run red lights or do other things that are annoying.
“It is a harmless crime, in that hardly anybody ever gets injured from doing it.”
He added: “The police know that the real worry is people drink-driving and driving while using mobile phones, which can be just as dangerous. These two acts are by far biggerkillers in Oxfordshire and nationally.”
Mr Styring also said cyclists should be allowed to ignore some red lights at less dangerous junctions.
But Barbara Sandford, who was left with internal bleeding after being knocked down on a pedestrian crossing in Oxford’s High Street by a cyclist who went through a red light last March, disagreed.
She said: “They don’t seem to be thinking ahead.
“When you are driving you have absolutely got to anticipate everything that could happen.
“Cyclists don’t seem to have that awareness, they go sailing on as if they don’t have a care in the world.”
Tafari Miller, then 18, of Greenfinch Close, Greater Leys, later admitted a charge of dangerous cycling at Oxford Magistrates’ Court.
Magistrates imposed a fine of £100, with a £15 victims’ surcharge, £85 costs and £500 compensation.
Regular cyclist Chris Else, 25, from Culham, near Abingdon, said the rule-breakers were giving bike users a bad name. He said: “I don’t jump red lights because I don’t think it is safe and it doesn’t advance the cause of cyclists for anybody. They are not doing themselves any favours.”
Chief Insp Henry Parsons said: “Thames Valley Police is working to reduce the volume of those killed and seriously injured on the roads. Jumping red lights, whether by vehicle or cycle is dangerous. For that reason we will continue to enforce this and other road safety legislation.”
Abingdon taxi driver Stuart Curran, 43, said he had seen many near misses from cyclists jumping lights.
He said: “It beggers belief. I remember a shocking incident some years ago where there was a lady pushing her pram across Iffley Road. I could see a cyclist racing by in my mirror going at full pelt up to the lights so I hit my car horn. The lady stopped and the cyclist shot by only missing her and the pushchair by inches.
He added: “Oxford seems to be one of the worst places for cyclists with no lights. I drive in London a lot and they don’t have the same problem.”
Last year Thames Valley Police issued 346 fixed penalty tickets in Oxfordshire to cyclists ignoring traffic signs, which includes the offence of not complying with a red traffic light. It was unable to provide a breakdown of reasons for the tickets being issued.
Last September the Oxford Mail revealed deaths and injuries of cyclists had more than doubled in the past decade.
Some 58 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in Oxfordshire in 2011 compared to 27 in 2001.