THE number of rule-breaking cyclists being hit with fines in the Lothian region has spiralled in the past three years, it has been revealed.
Police Scotland figures made public under Freedom of Information legislation show that 193 riders were handed the £30 fixed-penalty notices for traffic offences in 2012-13, swelling coffers by almost £6000.
The total caught and fined in the Lothian and Borders region compares with just 99 in 2010-11 and 119 the following year, meaning it has almost doubled in a 36-month period.
Motoring groups said the rise could be attributed to police taking a harder line with riders following a string of casualties, while cycling groups said the fact that more bikes are on the roads could explain the increase.
It also emerged that across Scotland, the number of riders stopped by police for complaints such as dangerous riding or being drunk in charge of a bicycle rose 24 per cent in the three years to April.
The revelations follow a two-week crackdown on cyclists in the Capital’s busy West End in November, which saw 129 spoken to by officers. The road safety initiative, which also targeted motorists, was hailed as a success after more than 300 people in total were warned and a small number of penalty notices were dished out.
The most common offences were using a mobile phone while driving, cyclists failing to stop at a red light or cycling on pavements, and taxi drivers waiting by Haymarket Station outwith the designated ranks. One driver was handed an ASBO for careless driving.
Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motoring, warned that cyclists must show responsibility “if they want to be taken seriously as a mainstream form of transport”.
He added: “I’m pleased to see a rise in cycling prosecutions to match the rise in cycling. For me, it shows the police are aware of cycling casualties and are reacting to that.
“Motorists often feel that cyclists get away with bad behaviour, whether it’s cutting through red lights or putting themselves at risk in other ways.”
It also emerged that “reported cycling offences” across Scotland were up from 298 in 2010-11 to 369 in 2012-13. The number included reports of “carelessly or inconsiderately riding a bicycle,” which increased from 50 to 96.
John Lauder, national director of sustainable transport campaigners Sustrans Scotland, said: “It stands to reason that as more people cycle there would be more fines issued to cyclists, although it’s disappointing.
“But it is good to see police using the law fully to penalise bad cyclists. Hopefully by doing so we’ll see offences go down.”