London's under-employed police - warning to cyclists
Watch out if you are cycling in central London. This afternoon at about 3pm at Holborn Circus there were eight - count 'em eight - police standing around (well two of them were on bicycles). Terrorist scare? armed robbery? you are probably thinking.
No, they are cracking down on cyclists' behaviour on the road. Not other road-users, just cyclists.
Now there are undoubtedly some cyclists who do need to be penalised - one tore past me when I was stopped at lights in Whitechapel a little later, scattering pedestrians. If he was booked, I wouldn't complain at all, except that I doubt the cops could catch him.
But what did a police officer have cause to take me to task for at Holborn Circus? I drew up at a red light, and since a taxi was occupying all of the marked bicycle space on the road, at the front of the queue, I went forward of the bicycle stop line, although still back from the pedestrian crossing space. I took back about a third of the space to which I am entitled, to make sure the taxi couldn't suddenly decide to turn left across the front of me.
So a middle-aged policeman came bustling over and started to lecture me. I pointed out that he should have been lecturing the taxi-driver, he claimed I'd been there before the taxi, I suggested that I'd be happy to look at the CCTV, since I knew I hadn't. He started to bluster, then the lights changed and that was that. (Well the bike courier bloke said "good on you" to me as he left.)
As I've posted previously, my encounters with London police have given me a general view of incompetence, laziness and bullying - now that feeling has only been multiplied.
Oddly enough, the policeman didn't pick on the cyclist beside me - a large, young, male courier, and he didn't pick on the taxi driver, who'd broken the law first, forcing me to do likewise if I had concern for my own skin (perhaps because the taxi-driver was a middle-aged bloke like him with whom he identified). I, however, was the helmeted, well-dressed, middle-class cyclist - perfect target, he thought, for a bit of hectoring.
I should be, by class and social position, a natural supporter of the police, but I've now decided there is nothing about the London force that is worth supporting. (And that's without mentioning the crazy way they drive - I consider a speeding police car one of the greatest threats to cyclists in London. Yes ambulance drivers go fast too, but they seem to do so with a great deal more sense - and usually, I suspect, more reason.)