Avon & Somerset Police promise a Section 59 warning and deliver… nothing

On the 22nd of July the driver of a car with registration LT51KME decided to overtake me with inches to spare. I recorded the incident on my helmet camera.

Warning: Video has loud swearing

This was beyond a mistake. The driver knew what she was doing and deliberately drove her car at speed towards me. If I had not evaded her car then the wing mirror would have clipped me. This is serious, and this driver should not be operating a vehicle under the impression that ‘might is right’.

Fortunately the Avon & Somerset police officer I spoke to three days later agreed. She decided to serve the driver with a warning, specifically Section 59 of the Police Reform Act. In essence this means if the driver causes “alarm, distress or annoyance” again in the next year then her car will be seized.

I was very pleased with the outcome of the meeting from the police. For once it seemed I had come across a sympathetic ear and had for the first time elicited a decent, but proportional, punishment towards a dangerous driver.

One month later, on the 22nd of August, I finally heard back from the officer I spoke to (after I chased it up). Below is the email I received.

Apologies that it has taken some time to resolve this matter.

This has been in part due to my working part-time hours and catching the other party at the right time to speak with them.

I can confirm that the female driver has now been spoken to and made aware of your complaint.

I did discuss with her the Highway Code and rules regarding how a cyclist should be treated when passing on the road.

At first she did not see any wrong doing on her part, but was quite receptive to what I had to say.

For this reason I felt that words of advice were suitable on this occasion and that no further action will be taken.

Her vehicle index and details are recorded with us should there be any further need for Police involvement due to manner of driving.

She did raise one concern of her own, in that she was aware you were recording the incident and she heard you mention YouTube during your exchange.

She would like reassurance that the footage would not be made publically available.  Her main worry being that she had her children in the car, and her number plate visible, and would not like this information on an open forum.

Has the footage been used online at all?

If so, out of courtesy for the children, and consideration of Data Protection and Human Rights, could I ask that the footage be removed from any public forum?

Kind regards

<name of officer removed>

In summary, not only has the officer gone back on their agreement to serve a section 59, but I am to remove the video of the incident from YouTube.

Since the police have failed to police the roads I refuse to remove the only practical consequence of driver’s behaviour. The message is clear: if you drive your car dangerously then expect to get away with it. And if you get caught? Don’t worry about that either, the police will help you to cover your tracks.


Replacement cycle lane, Quay street

Quay street is one way with a contraflow cycle lane. Building works have narrowed the road so there’s no more room on the road for both a road and the bike lane. Rather than remove the cycle lane it has instead been moved onto the pavement, which is quite narrow in places. The cycle lane also has to yield priority at junctions.

I’m in two minds as to whether this compromise is good or not.

On one hand it’s great that cycling has been considered and it’s still usable, albeit in a slightly unsatisfactory manner. It wouldn’t have surprised me if the cycle lane had simply been removed, so my low expectations have been surpassed!

As the road is a bus route it would be a huge hassle to close the road to motor vehicles. Other solutions like priority signs and or traffic lights are a step too far to solve the problem I think, probably introducing more issues.

When it comes down to it road works are temporary and inconvenience all road users in one way or another. It’s unfortunate that on Quay Street it’s introduced extra risk to pedestrians and inconvenience to cyclists.

Hello, world!

I’m a cyclist in Bristol. I use a bike because it’s cheap and convenient and it keeps me fit.

I use a helmet camera because Bristol Council don’t do enough for cyclists, and some drivers are not nice to cyclists. I want to make things better. A lot of the time this means highlighting the bad and challenging the norm.

This blog will be a base for my thoughts and letters to try and improve the situation in Bristol. I’ve got a lot of ideas of how things should be done to make a Bristol better city.