Paul Tuohy on a close pass mat
Cycling UK's Paul Tuohy demonstrating our prototype 'close pass' mat

Crowdsourced funding campaign will make "roads safer"

Cycling UK launches ‘Too Close For Comfort’ Kickstarter campaign to make great work by West Midlands Police go nationwide.

Cycling UK today (Thursday, 09 March) called on cyclists across the UK to help make roads safer and put an end to close overtaking of cyclists by drivers, also known as ‘close passes’, as it launched its fundraising campaign ‘Too Close for Comfort’ via the crowdfunding website, Kickstarter.  

The campaign follows in the footsteps of West Midlands Traffic Police’s (WMP) award-winning road safety operation, ‘Give Space, Be Safe’ launched last September, which targeted close passes.

WMP sent plain clothes officers out on bikes, and pulled over drivers who overtook too closely. Using a ‘safe pass’ mat that cost over £800, WMP then demonstrated to these drivers how to overtake vulnerable road users safely, with the worst cases being reported for careless driving.

Driving behaviour in the local area changed overnight, with a 50 per cent reduction in reported close pass offences in the first three months. 

‘Too Close for Comfort’ aims to raise £12,000 to fund the purchase of 50 close pass mats. These mats will then be distributed around each force operating in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to allow them to operate similar road safety education and enforcement operations. Cycling UK has spoken to several forces which have shown their interest and appreciation for having mats provided.

It’s great to see how ‘Give Space, Be Safe’ has taken off, and we’re fully behind Cycling UK’s plan to supply every force with a close pass mat – they really can make a difference.”

PC Steve Hudson, West Midlands Traffic Police

According to findings from Dr Rachel Aldred’s Near Miss Project, close passes account for a third of threatening encounters cyclists have with motor vehicles. They present a significant barrier for people new to cycling, or who cycle at a more sedate pace (<8mph). The project found close passes are particularly a problem for women, who on average cycle more slowly than men, and experienced a 50 per cent higher rate of close passes.

Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Cycling UK, said: “Last September, West Midlands Police showed the UK what a little bit of innovation could do to make a difference to road safety. I’m pleased to say that forces up and down the land took note, and many have shown a real interest in running similar operations.

“It’s well known our police forces have been clobbered with years of cuts from central Government. They’re doing a great job given the circumstances, and hearing of the enthusiasm from several forces for West Midlands’ close pass operation, we thought we’d try and give them a little helping hand.

“Cycling UK launched ‘Too Close for Comfort’ with the specific aim of raising £12,000. With this money, we plan to buy the close pass mats in bulk, which will save close to £28,000, and pass these on for free to our forces. If West Midlands’ success is anything to go by, they will help make cycling and our roads safer across the whole UK – that’s surely worth parting with a few bob for!”

PC Steve Hudson one of the officers behind West Midlands Traffic Police 'Give Space, Be Safe' operation has reacted well to the launch of 'Too Close for Comfort' saying, “The driving test is the minimum standard, if you don’t drive or ride to that standard every time you get on the road you are part of the problem, be honest with yourselves. That’s why we set up our ‘Give Space, Be Safe’ operation last September – to help remind people of those standards they might have forgotten.

“It’s great to see how ‘Give Space, Be Safe’ has taken off, and we’re fully behind Cycling UK’s plan to supply every force with a close pass mat – they really can make a difference.”

For further information visit Cycling UK’s Kickstarter page: www.kickstarter.com/projects/cyclinguk/toocloseforcomfort-the-close-pass...

SamJones
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Comments

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Cycling wheels 0.75m from the

psamathe's picture

Cycling wheels 0.75m from the curb puts the cyclists well inside the "car door zone" - is this what the Cycling UK think cyclists should be doing - 'cos it's very dangerous. This is terrible.

You are educating drivers that this is where cyclists should be riding. Maybe Cycling UK should take a Bikeability course or even read about "Primary Position" in the Highway Code (because they both explicitly disagree with the 0.75m).

This will make life harder and more dangerous for cyclists and raises real questions if Cycling UK can really act in the interests f cyclists any more.

There seem more concerned about a photo op for their CEO than making things safer for people out on their bikes. Educate drivers that cyclists should ride 0.75m out and we'll get even more shouts about "pull-over" you're too far out - and they will be right because a cycling organisation told them so! This campaign must be stopped immediately. Cycling is bad enough already but with unhelpful things like this it could become impossible.

So I now expect to get even more shouts from drivers and ... if I wont ride where "I should" why should a driver give me the passing space "he should" ... stupid in the extreme.

Think you've very much got

SamJones's picture

Think you've very much got the wrong end of the stick as we're not saying cyclists should be 0.75m away from the kerb - if you watch the video you'll see we say that's a "possible distance a cyclist might be from the kerb".

West Midlands Police has used mats like this to explain the dangers of motorists passing cyclists too close. They refer to the 1.5 metre passing distance as a recommended minimum. We agree with this, though the driver’s speed and the weather conditions can mean that 1.5 metres is insufficient, something which the officer using the mat as a demonstration tool explains.

To show what 1.5 metres looks like the officer stands a bicycle on a fixed line, with the 1.5 metre gap displayed on the mat from that line, outwards into the road. The fixed line on the West Midlands’ mat is marked at 0.75 metres from the kerb. The police don’t suggest that this is where a cyclist should or must be, and the graphic in our video confirms only that this is where a cyclist might be.

West Midlands Police’s scheme has been so successful that we did not want to re-invent the wheel with such a positive cycling safety initiative. Additionally, other police forces accept that West Midlands police have got this right and want to copy their operation. In doing so it is likely that they will carry out their enforcement on busy A roads rather than minor roads, where there will probably be people cycling at or around 0.75 metres from the kerb. That is why we have not changed anything with the mats we are planning to use.

The aim of this initiative is not to tell people cycling where to position themselves on the road. No cyclists are spoken to or involved in the enforcement operation, apart from the police officers on their bikes. We are supporting an education and enforcement operation with drivers. That is why we have not complicated matters by going into issues concerning primary and secondary positioning. The point is that, wherever the cyclist is positioned, they need to be given enough space by any driver who decides to overtake them.

So CTC/CUK deletes out

psamathe's picture

So CTC/CUK deletes out comments that are justifiable critical of it's campaigns!!

If you campaign cannot stand the criticism I'm making that maybe that speaks volumes but I think it poor to delete out valid critical comments. Is this what the CTC/CUK has become?