DOZENS of cyclists have been stopped and given safety advice as part of an Essex Police campaign.

Operation Bluenose aims to find riders at risk and urge them to use more safety equipment such as lights, helmets and high visibility clothing.

Essex Police Casualty Reduction Section have stopped more than 120 cyclists in Basildon, mainly around the industrial areas of Cranes Farm Road and Burnt Mills.

January, February and March are the months when road collisions involving cyclists increase, mainly during dark evenings when people cycle home from school, college or work.

In the first three months of2013 there was a 50 per cent increase in recorded casualties in the Basildon area.

Officers are also using social media to ask cyclists to identify which areas and cycle routes should be investigated.

Sgt Graham Freeman, who is running the operation, said: “The vast majority of people we stopped were very receptive and those who were fully complying with the law were most impressed that Essex Police was tackling the problem.

“The majority of those who had no lights or reflective clothing assured us they would have some as quickly as possible. Only a few people had to be reminded there would be a £50 fine if they failed to comply and were stopped and warned for a second time.

“About 50 per cent had no lights and were given verbal warnings.

About 50 per cent had no reflective clothing and 75 per cent had no cycle helmet.

“The approach was initially to stop and educate cyclists including those riding without lights, on footpaths, in pedestrian-only areas or riding the wrong way down one-way streets. We will also be handing out the ‘Let’s Look Out For Each Other’ literature when talking with people.

“We will also be showing riders a map which outlines where the cycle road collision have happened in their areas. Our stop checks will be at some of these collision sites so showing a map will have much more of an impact than just giving words of advice.

“If further action is deemed necessary to drive home the need for improved safety, we will issue fixed penalty tickets.”

Officers will be carrying out similar stop checks on cyclists in Harlow, Chelmsford and Colchester until the end of March.