Most people don't like complaining, we're British after all. But if we say nothing, nothing will change. We need to speak up about things that cause us problems as cyclists. Eventually the noise will filter up to those who make decisions. When communicating it is a good idea to use email as it provides a log of who said what and when.
Dangerous or careless driving (for taxis and buses, see below)
If you have been injured in a collision, or there is immediate danger, call 999. The police should attend, take statements and decide what action needs to be taken. Even if the injuries seem relatively trivial (bruises and scrapes) they still need reporting – you may feel worse or find other injuries later. And if there's damage to your bike or gear when the driver was at fault (for example turning across your path when you were proceeding straight on), you should be able to claim on the driver's insurance. Do not be bullied by drivers keen to avoid the consequences.
If nobody has been injured or there hasn't been a collision, you can report the incident using the Police Non-emergency number 101. This will connect you to the nearest local police service - and it's the same call centre and call handlers as for 999.
Lack of specific detail often hinders police response so details of vehicles involved are critical – registration and colour, plus basic details of the car like whether it’s a hatchback or saloon, or the make and model if you recognise them. Registration number and colour are usually enough for the police to identify the vehicle, and it’s important to get a description of the driver if you can. Partial registrations can be used, but you stand a far better chance of getting a positive ID from a complete one.
The location is also important, and call centre staff might not be familiar with streets or buildings in Leeds: they need road names or numbers to pinpoint the location. Don’t forget the wonder of lamp posts: each one has a number which the police can use to locate the exact spot. If the vehicle has left the scene (for example after a near-miss or verbal abuse) you may be asked which way the vehicle headed so that officers in the vicinity can be told to keep an eye out for them.
The police can accept video evidence, and are working on a way to accept video uploads online, but in the meantime if you have video you may need to take a camera card or drive in to a police station.
So if you report to 101, what happens next and is it worth it? The police have 3 main options:
- Do nothing – perhaps the video evidence is unclear or the police feel from the description the driver didn't act inappropriately.
- Give ‘words of advice’ to the driver (this is the default) – the police visit the driver at home or work, and talk to them about their actions. May be enough to shock a driver into better behaviour.
- Prosecute for careless/dangerous driving – for this to happen, the police need a formal statement: you will usually be asked to visit a police station to give this statement, but you can often make an appointment, visit a station that isn't your closest one (for example one close to your workplace or on your route home), or the police may be able to visit you at home or work. If you think you may want to take it further, it's worth writing everything down while you remember it clearly.
Your report also goes on file for that vehicle so if the driver is a repeat offender, a body of evidence accumulates giving the police more reason and evidence to prosecute in future. One we have an online reporting tool, the police will be able to assemble data on problematic drivers and locations.
Private car parked obstructing a cycle lane? Contact Parking Services 0113 3950050 or by email at email@example.com
Taxis misbehaviour - parked in a cycle lane, dangerous driving etc
Email the council's taxi licensing department (firstname.lastname@example.org) giving details of the time and location, vehicle registration, company, description of driver, and nature of the problem. If possible take a photo and attach to the email. Leeds City Council *does* act on receipt of these emails (see the blog post) and can and do talk to offenders, and sometimes penalise them.
Log the location and severity of the pothole using Fill-that-hole, or report directly to Highways (email@example.com). Explain why it is dangerous. It it is > 40mm deep then they should fix it. If you crash as a result of the pothole then report this too, noting damage to you and your bike.
If you find a traffic signal that does not detect people on bikes email UTC (Urban Traffic Control) using firstname.lastname@example.org stating the location and problem.
Litter, debris, botanical obstructions and broken glass in cycle lanes
If you have a problem with road and footpath sweeping, graffiti, illegal dumping, blocked gullies, dead animals or dog fouling, the e-mail address is email@example.com
Grass cutting should take place every two to three weeks between March and October. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request weed spraying.
"Roadworks, skips, scaffolding, hoardings, advertising boards and building materials that block the road or pavement are all considered to be causing an obstruction. If trees or branches hang over the road or pavement they are also an obstruction." So say Highways, so feel free to tell them by emailing email@example.com.
Dangerous driving by buses
Buses are usually driven well, but should you have reason to complain you should contact the bus company and give details of time and location, bus ID/registration and what happened. Try to be calm and objective. Tell them why the action caused your problems - dangerous, intimidating? Ask them what they are going to do about it.
METRO, (West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority) collect feedback about buses: they will log complaints about bus operators and also pass your complaint to the operator concerned. The following minimum details are needed:
- Service number
- Direction the service was travelling
For First buses there is a web form to complete here.
You can contact Arriva here