A DAMNING dossier of photos has exposed police putting public safety at risk by parking in cycle lanes.
Cyclists, and the Sheffield Taxi Trade Association, today condemned the ‘hypocrisy’ of officers after a line-up of vans was snapped blocking bike access just a tiny distance from the force’s official car park.
Bike enthusiast and blogger Matt Turner took the photographs after he was forced to weave in and out of heavy bus traffic in Castle Street.
The vehicles were moved into the designated area at Snig Hill station minutes after he complained.
Matt, aged 27, from Hillsborough, said the problem has been highlighted before by members of campaign group Cycle Sheffield, and South Yorkshire Police representatives assured them there is no need for police to use the contraflow lanes.
He said: “They have their own car park right across the road.
“It’s particularly dangerous around there because if you’re using a bike you have to move out around the vehicles and into oncoming traffic. You always hope there isn’t a bus coming the other way because you can’t see past.
“They obviously understand it’s dangerous because they tell other vehicles to move when they’re parked there, but then they go and do it themselves.
“This is the third time I have complained. I was made to feel like an idiot.
“It obviously wasn’t an emergency or incident they were dealing with while parked, because the vans were moved to the car park about five or 10 minutes later.”
The parking contravention was met with disappointment from Sheffield Taxi Trade Association, as it was city centre police who led a crackdown on cabs’ illegal parking in the same area which resulted in two drivers being suspended last year.
Hafeas Rehman, chairman of the group, said: “Everyone should adhere to the rules of the road, but obviously we get drivers saying, ‘If police can park there, why can’t we?’ and it makes it harder to address the issue.
“We’ve had similar problems with the rank on Carver Lane.
“It was persistent offenders who were suspended, but if taxi drivers have been punished then police should be too.
“They are paid to protect the public and what they are doing puts them at risk.”
Superintendent Colin McFarlane, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “The police vehicles were outside police headquarters in preparation for deployment as part of the football fixture in the city. This was a large policing operation, with numerous police vehicles being utilised. This, however, does not excuse why the vehicles were blocking cycle lanes.
“All further match day briefings will emphasise that this is not acceptable, and officers will be reminded not to park in such a manner. Work is also taking to place to better designate police parking areas around police headquarters.”