At our last open meeting in April we had two PCSOs from the local police station pop in.
We were a bit surprised when they walked in, as we hadn’t expected them. However, it was an overdue meeting with them, as we have been trying for a long time to get them along, and it was great to have them there.
Some of the things we agreed were:
1. Potential setting up of a Thames Valley Police (TVP) single point of contact for cycling issues.
2. Investigate whether TVP intend to institute a Close Pass campaign around Reading. This is something that was set up by West Midlands Police in 2016 and has been taken up by a number of other forces.
The publicity around the campaign is an integral part of influencing driver behaviour. See https://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2017/jul/21/undercover-police-target-london-drivers-who-pass-too-close-to-cyclists
3. Report back on any TVP initiatives to tackle cycle theft (e.g. bait bikes). If possible provide Reading Cycle Campaign with TVP advice leaflets on cycle security for us to distribute on our information stands.
4. Potential for TVP to utilise Reading Cycle Campaign for communication with Reading’s cycle community via our quarterly newsletter or Facebook page.
All very positive, and later I was cycling with a large group through Broad Street east, where often in the past the town centre PCSOs have asked us to stop.
We saw three of them – they didn’t attempt to stop us, they just smiled as we rode past!
In addition they have said that they won’t routinely try to stop pavement cyclists if they are riding courteously, partly because the Council keeps putting cycle facilities on the pavement, and partly because they got such stick the last time they simply stopped anyone on the pavement, regardless of how they were riding.
We might have had a little hand in that last matter, as we generated quite a bit of noise around it in the media.
So campaigning does work, it’s just the Council who are deaf to us!
Adrian Lawson RCC Chairman