Cycling child being overtaken too closely
Putting an end to close passes in the West Country (Image courtesy of @lucullus)

West Country police crack-down on drivers putting cyclists at risk

Tri Force Road Policing, in partnership with Road Safety and Local Policing Teams, together with other agencies will be carrying out roadside checks at a pre-selected locations to intercept drivers who have passed a cyclist too close. The operation will run for the next two months in the Wiltshire, Avon & Somerset and Gloucestershire.

In 2015, 18,844 cyclists were injured in reported road traffic collisions which included 3,289 who were killed or seriously injured in Britain. Analysis shows that driver action was the cause in the majority of collisions. The most significant risk was presented at junction locations, suggesting some people when driving are not looking out for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

Being passed too close by a driver is one of the biggest deterrent to cyclists using the regions road network. Too many drivers fail to give cyclists the time and space to complete their journey safely, and are often unaware of the correct passing distance needed to give a rider.

According to Tri Force Road Policing, many “due care and attention” offences are being committed daily when a driver overtakes far too close to a law abiding cyclist and putting them at risk. Consequently, many of these offences going unreported. With the help of Cycling UK's #toocloseforcomfort mat, Tri Force Road Policing is rolling out an operation across the region to deter further offences being committed.  

We believe cooperative use of the road space is beneficial to all roads users, over the next few months work is being undertaken to bring these types of operations to our local communities and support safe cycling in partnership with our road safety partners."

Sgt Warren Knight, Tri Force specialist operations 

Sgt Warren Knight from Tri Force specialist operations has been the driving force behind the operation, said: "Our Tri Force roads policing unit is supporting and planning with Avon and Somerset , Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Police to undertake the 'Close pass cycling safety programme'. 

"We believe cooperative use of the road space is beneficial to all roads users, over the next few months work is being undertaken to bring these types of operations to our local communities and support safe cycling in partnership with our road safety partners.

"This project is also being  supported by Cycling UK who are providing  forces with equipment. Cycling on our roads needs to be safe and all road users need to work together to reduce instances of those being killed and seriously injured on our roads"

The campaign will involve a Traffic Officer on a bicycle riding along selected routes where offences regularly occur. If a driver passes too close to the Officer on the bike, another Traffic Officer positioned further up the road will stop the driver.

The Officer on the cycle will have a camera for recording any offences.  Once the vehicle & driver’s details have been recorded together with an eyesight check, the driver will be offered the option of being reported for the offence of ‘driving due care and attention’ or to receive education about the correct way to overtake someone on a bicycle with a short lesson on overtaking.  

The lesson will include a life-size floor mat provided by Cycling UK, which will be used to explain how far away a vehicle should be from a rider when over-taking in a number of different scenarios.

Sam Jones, Cycling UK’s campaigns coordinator said:

“Cycling UK’s really pleased to see close pass operations being rolled out by forces across Wiltshire, Avon & Somerset and Gloucestershire, and using our education mat to do so. It shows that they are taking the threat of close passes, which are an almost daily occurrence for cyclists, seriously. 

“We know overtaking that’s too close for comfort is usually done from a position of ignorance, rather than malicious intent, which is why we’re pleased that Tri Force Road Policing’s focus is education first, and enforcement second. These mats, are some of the first to be rolled out in the UK, and hopefully we’ll see a summer of safe cycling on all our roads as more forces take up similar operations.”

SamJones