Wednesday, 3 July 2013

'Dangerous' Cycling and Operation Grimaldi *UPDATED*

Recently in Manchester, Greater Manchester Police launched Operation Grimaldi

"Operation Grimaldi is clamping down on the number of cyclists involved in collisions and to encourage them to learn how to ‘share the road’ with others safely."

"The operation has been running since the beginning of 2013, focusing on ‘hot spot’ areas where pedal cyclists have been seen using the roads dangerously or irresponsibly."

The traffic network team at Greater Manchester Police has been working along the Oxford Road corridor and Wilmslow Road area of the city centre where a number of collisions have occurred recently. GMP had also received a number of complaints about cyclists failing to stop at red lights and weaving dangerously in and out of traffic."
"The operation has seen 415 fixed penalties issued over 10 days of action spread across five months (February to June 2013) for offences such as running red lights, not having lights fitted, cycling on footpaths and using mobile phones whilst cycling."
I can't help but be annoyed at such a high profile campaign focusing on one particular group who happen to be the most vulnerable and very rarely the cause of any serious traffic incident.
"The data, which was analysed by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), showed that more than a quarter of all cycling deaths in 2005-07 happened when a vehicle ran into the rear of a bike."
I have no problem with targeted campaigns.  In instances where there is a real problem and KSI stats to back it up.  I am completely on board with Drink Drive initiatives around holidays.  This all makes sense, because there is a proven need for this targeted approach.
However, share the road (which this purports to be) campaigns are nothing but divisive if not all Road Users are taught to share.
And then see this report of a cyclist in a similar location (in fact probably travelling to) where Operation Grimaldi happened and read the comments from GMP:
"A gold coloured Toyota Yaris which had mounted the kerb in an effort to pass waiting cars collided into him, forcing the man onto the bonnet of the car," it said. "The victim then fell off and the Yaris drove off without checking on the cyclist’s welfare."
Mounted the kerb to pass waiting cars! 

Then forcing the man onto his bonnet????? 

WTF???? He didn't force him onto his bonnet!  He ran the poor fucker over!  Can you imagine using this sort of language if it were a child walking along the pavement?
The driver of the car, couldn't be arsed to wait so forced the child onto his bonnet.
and to tip it off:
"“His impatience meant he had little regard for other road users and we therefore need to catch him as soon as possible."
So really its not his terrible, possibly fatal driving that is at fault? Its the fact he is impatient?  Fucking hell, there is a time bomb waiting to happen. 
What next? A GMP campaign against impatient motoring?
I bet that would result in more than 400 fixed penalty notices.....


I have had a response to my FOI request from GMP


I write in connection with your request for information dated 02/07/2013, which was received by Greater Manchester Police on 02/07/2013 and for which clarification was received on 11/07/2013I note you seek access to the following information:

1 - Please can you tell me the KSI figures for cyclists on which you based Operation Grimaldi?

2 - How many people have been injured by 'dangerous cycling' in the Greater Manchester Area?

As referenced in your press release here  

3 - Are you able to  tell me figures for 2011 and 2012 for other road users killed or seriously injured in accidents caused by cyclists in the Greater Manchester area?

Following receipt of your request searches were conducted within Greater Manchester Police to locate information relevant to your request.  I can confirm that the information you have requested is held, in part, by Greater Manchester Police, (GMP).

The inception of Operation Grimaldi was not based on KSI figures, therefore re point 1 – information is not held in the format requested.  However please see the below in response to the whole of your request.

This year GMP have recorded 18 fatal collisions to date with regard to this request, of these one was a pedestrian that was hit by a pedal cycle.

Whilst fortunately there has been no fatal collisions involving a rider of a pedal cyclist this year there has been five serious and life changing cycle collisions, one incident when a rider rode through a red light and was hit by a vehicle, another where a cyclist rode from the pavement under the rear wheels of a HGV and one where a cyclist placed themselves in the blind spot of a HGV vehicle.

There will be many incidents that do not involve injury and as such are not reported to GMP.

Our priority is to reduce KSI (killed and serious injuries) on the roads of Greater Manchester. This involves educating all road users.  The aim of the operation Grimaldi is to educate all road users.

GMP recognises that the stopping of cyclists has brought the topic high on the agenda and highlighting concerns which may educate or make other road users aware of each other and hopefully alter road usage behaviour.

Unfortunately a large number of the collisions that occur are where cyclists unknowingly place themselves in dangerous positions and situations on the road especially when near to HGV's and busses.  The most common cause of collisions is cyclists entering the road from the pavement.

GMP recognises that the drivers of vehicles do make contact with the cyclist there are many, many times where the cyclist places themselves in a situation be it jumping the red light, manoeuvring in the road without checking over their shoulder or changing direction without indicating which leaves them very vulnerable.

From cyclists who have attended GMPs presentation 93% have had no training what so ever nor are they holders of any licence and such cyclists take to some of the busiest roads in the country and following what they see as 'normal' place themselves in danger.

The main Oxford and Wilmslow Road corridor is the area that has the highest collisions within Greater Manchester and this is why this area has been chosen at this time.

GMP is also introducing those who are vulnerable to take up the free offer of cycle training at betterbycyle phone 0300 123 1675 or through

Additionally GMP can provide the below statistics that represent all forcewide pedal cycle collisions/casualties:


Complaint Rights
Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet, which details your right of complaint.

Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please write or contact me on telephone number 0161 856 2529 quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely
Philip Humphreys

Information Compliance & Records Management Assistant

OK so, some points. I am sure there are many more, but a couple of things struck me.

Firstly, they admit Operation Grimaldi is not based on any real tangible KSI statistics on cyclists endangering other road users.

Secondly, of the fatalities they do mention one is "of these one was a pedestrian that was hit by a pedal cycle". I find this deeply deeply disturbing.  This collision happened on a pedestrian crossing and the cyclist was found to be not at fault.  But including it here suggests otherwise. 'Some rogue cyclist was responsible for killing someone hence we are cracking down on the misbehaviour'.

Thirdly, excuse my maths, I only total 16 since 2008. 2.6 per year. I wonder what the figure is for motorists? I cant see that 2.6 deaths albeit terrible, each one, is really demonstrating the need for such a costly and high profile 'stunt'.

And fourthly, "From cyclists who have attended GMPs presentation 93% have had no training what so ever nor are they holders of any licence" whoooaaahhhhhh now we are getting somewhere. This old chestnut. Do GMP have a subscription for the Daily Mail?   

I am interested how they think licensing might work.  Are they going to now be the Manchester equivalent to the DVLA for cyclists?

Well done GMP. You have completely missed the point. What a wasted opportunity.  Maybe lend a hand at Nice Way Code. They are doing a great job of making a pigs ear of it too.


  1. After the similar actions in May some PCSOs came into the university to say what the results were. They were trying to make the case that they were also looking out for bad driving (although I only ever saw them talking to cyclists). The results were fed back to us as follows:


    119 cyclists failing to stop at red traffic lights- a fair number of these were on the pedestrian crossing phase.
    18 cycling on the footpath
    1 contravening PCSO" (refusing to stop)
    8 no lights fitted
    1 summons for careless and inconsiderate cycling (this is a summary offence and can't be dealt with be fixed penalty however she still got the option of attending the presentation)

    1 section 165 seizure for having no insurance
    1 £200 fine for no insurance
    3 traffic offence reports for stopping on zig-zags of pedestrian crossing
    6 for unnecessary obstruction of a cycle lane
    1 traffic offence report for contravening a red light
    4 traffic offence reports for using a mobile phone
    27 drivers advised re encroaching into the ASL
    3 section 59 warnings for anti- social use of a motor vehicle
    13 verbally advised about contravening the no entry sign near to the old BBC building.

    Cyclists were given the option of attending a presentation rather than pay the fine, which the vast majority opted for. One cyclist was stopped twice in two days for jumping the same red light. The person stopped for careless and inconsiderate cycling had a suitcase under her arm as she rode along.

    Of those drivers spoken to for ASL reasons, they were supplied with a leaflet which was pretty much a photocopy of the highway code...

    (see: - login required)


    I notice that red light jumpers and pavement cyclists got the choice of a course or a fine, while ASL encroaching drivers got "advised". They got a leaflet, so that'll teach 'em.

    My concern would be that this kind of very public "crackdown" just further stigmatises cyclists and completely fails to address the cause of the problem - that treating bikes like thin cars is peverse and ridiculous.

  2. I agree that where there is a clear evidential need then targeted campaigns are useful and desirable.

    This come across as pure anti-cyclist though.

    I am trying to work out if GMP are just institutionally anti-cyclist, or are being guided by populist nonsense spouted by certain people whinging about a perceived risk that is in reality bugger all risk.

    The other theory is that they are just plain lazy, and hitting cyclists is easier and cheaper than trying to stop drivers.

    I wonder how many pedestrians they stopped for crossing the pedestrian on red? That is all utter bollocks anyway trying to treat people as cars.

    We had similar crap here recently with Police "cracking down" on cyclists in the town centre pedestrian zone.

    Almost tempted to try and get caught the next time so I can go on one of these safety nazi presentations and cause some havoc

  3. Very good post that captures well the prejudice that we face. I posted my own recent experience here: