The price of being an upstanding citizen

Today I learned that in the near future I might be up for what I consider a pretty unreasonable fine or a legal battle. All for talking to a policeman by the side of the Streatham Hill on the way back to base from a delivery this evening. I did this after some guy came up to my truck as I was waiting to pass over the Brixton Hill / South Circular junction, who was clearly the worse for wear. I wasn’t sure if he was begging or just not all there, and while I don’t think he was a danger to anyone, he could have ended up being scraped off the road. But a couple of hundred yards further down, I saw a police car in front of me, and walked up and told the occupants what I’d seen. They directed me into the bus lane on the left.

It turned out that the guy was known to the police, but I asked them if I could get a bus lane fine for pulling in. They said “not from us”, but I took an identity number from one of them. A bus was approaching from behind, and buses have cameras to photograph bus lane infringers. Now, I’m sure some people reading this would be surprised that I’d even think I could get a fine for talking to a police officer, but Transport for London are known for their cut-throat policy on bus lane enforcement.

There are quite a few places in London where bus lanes are drawn so that the main lanes are barely wide enough for a large vehicle - and for two large vehicles to pass is pretty dangerous, but they’ve got no choice. (Brixton Hill is also the only place in London where I’ve encountered “klingons” - cyclists and skaters who cling to the side of trucks for a free ride up the hill.) In other places, the arrangement has led to the loss of manoevering room on both sides, with cars from one side being forced into the other side’s lane, forcing people on that side into the bus lane. It looks an awful lot like a fine-gouging scheme.

Well, I told the boss back at the tile company where I work, and they told me that whoever runs the bus lanes (I believe Transport for London) don’t, in fact, consider direction by the police an excuse for going into a bus lane. The company has, in fact, lost appeals on these grounds in the past. I later related the whole incident to my mum, who suggested that I might have waited until later to report the incident (by which time I’d have been miles away from the scene, and would have had to call a 118 number to get the number of the nearest police station, and then wait ages on the phone because it’s not an emergency, as I had to do when I reported being attacked in London a few months back. But if they issue a ticket for, I plan to take them to court if any appeal fails - it can’t possibly be legal to fine someone for talking to a policeman, at their instruction!

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