Shining a light on UoN’s cycling nanny-state

At the start of this year I bought myself a Peugeot. Not of the electric blue, boy racer 206 type, but one with two wheels, rusty pedals and brown tape over the handlebars.

Despite its 1980s fatigue, cycling in and out of campus was proving a quick and cost-effective alternative to the daily 34 bus experience. So it came with much frustration when a pesky little nail on Lenton Boulevard retired the bike to the garage, where it now remains.

Every cloud has a silver lining, though. At least I haven’t joined the growing number of students who have fallen victim to the bike light fines agenda of Campus Security. The ‘Brighten Up’ campaign by the University raises awareness to ensure cyclists are visible in the dark, but rather less is made of the £50 fines coming the way of those who don’t comply.

The fluorescent chested infantry patrol every hotspot like a scene from Guantanamo Bay.

University policy states that cycling without a bike light once the sun falls on campus is as illegal as it would be if you were doing so on the M25. This, however, appears not to be the kind of rule to which the authorities generally turn a blind eye. As such, a fluorescent chested infantry patrol every hotspot like a scene from Guantanamo Bay. Hopping onto that saddle becomes the equivalent of swiping your sweaty palms across the Mona Lisa.

Outside the confines of University Park, cyclists are likely to get away with being poorly illuminated. Not that this is a good thing, but the issue is that students are being targeted more so than members of the public. There also must be a better answer than an immediate £50 fine – such an extortionate, slap-dash, ‘zero tolerance’ response.

Boris Johnson admitted to cycling with a faulty backlight recently. With Britain’s most well-known cyclist – sorry, Wiggins – failing to conform, surely students should at least be given a second chance to correct their mistakes. Never mind a light, my Peugeot didn’t even have gears.

Students should at least be given a second chance to correct their mistakes.

How about this: campus security patrol around with a supply of bike lights, and those who refuse to buy one are then fined? One needn’t have to stump up the cash on the spot – a Student ID could be taken and the cyclist could collect the light the next day. If the student would rather buy one from Tesco, no problem. But if caught for a second time without a light, he/she should expect a fine.

This seems fair. But even if this more reasonable approach does not prevail, at least you can no longer blame ignorance. In the interests of safety and – as importantly – your bank balance, do light up.

Robert Smith


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3 Comments on this post.
  • Matt Styles
    25 December 2013 at 04:03
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    Cycling without lights on campus should come with punishments, as it is no different to cycling without them off campus and unless you live just on the border of the campus, you’re also about to go onto a public road anyway. It’s basic cycling safety which affects other road users as much as it does individual cyclists.

    Most university fines at UoN go into the Student Crisis Fund so it’s well-intended in the grand scheme of things.

    I do agree though that students should be given an opportunity to change their cycling safety. A lot of students will be cycling for the first time at university and won’t know that it is the law to have lights, and I imagine this is even more of an issue for international students coming from countries where it isn’t the law. A warning the first time then a fine the second, or as you say, the chance to get a set of lights on the spot, would be much better.

    Maybe it’s something to speak with the SU Community Officer about, as he may be working on things around this already?

    • Robert Smith
      27 December 2013 at 16:37
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      Thanks for your comment Matt. There’s an element of tongue-in-cheek there with regards to fines. I realise that a punishment of some kind has to be in place, but object to the steep cost and the way the deterrent is poorly advertised. Seems we broadly agree.

  • Anonymous
    27 December 2013 at 01:04
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    It’s all a Nanny State

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