Cycling UK today (Friday, 10 March) celebrated, as with the help of the UK’s cyclists, they met and exceeded its intended target of £12,000 for their fundraising campaign ‘Too Close for Comfort’ in less than 48 hours.
Launched Thursday morning, Cycling UK’s campaign met its target thanks to 798 backers at 1725 on Friday 10 March. It aims to make roads safer for vulnerable road users and put an end to close overtaking of cyclists by drivers, also known as ‘close passes’, as it seeks to extend a campaign begun by West Midlands Traffic Police (WMP).
Last September, West Midlands Traffic Police’s launched their road safety operation, ‘Give Space, Be Safe’ by sending out plain clothes officers on bikes. The operation targeted the drivers who overtook cyclists too closely, who were then pulled over. 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.
The operation received widespread national and international coverage, and was warmly received by road safety and cycle campaign groups.
Recognising the benefits of WMP’s operation on a local level, Cycling UK wanted to see the benefits spread across the whole of the UK. By buying the close pass mats in bulk, Cycling UK realised they would be able to save across all the UK’s forces a total of £28,000 (assuming each mat cost £800 to produce individually). Consequently they launched a crowd sourced fundraising campaign via the Kickstarter web platform to raise £12,000.
Cycling UK will now begin production of 50 close pass mats and will aim to roll them out to each force operating in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in April. Cycling UK has heard from several forces and local authorities which have shown their interest and appreciation for having mats provided.
Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Cycling UK, said:
“Cycling UK launched ‘Too Close for Comfort’ with the specific aim of helping out our cash strapped forces to make our roads that little bit safer for cycling.
“West Midlands’ operation has not only worked, but it’s also gone down well with cyclists, road safety bodies and other police forces. It only makes sense to help give it that little bit of a push to roll it out nationally – and thanks to cyclists across the UK, together we can make our roads safer.”
One of the WMP officers behind the original ‘Give Space, Be Safe’ operation, PC Mark Hodson said:
"Our ‘Give Space, Be Safe’ sprang from the need of addressing one of the number one threats to our most vulnerable road users, close passes, and helped change dangerous driving behaviour from the start.
“It’s satisfying to know that it’s a job well done on your home patch, but great to know this could happen nationwide. I hope every other police force will take advantage of this opportunity that Cycling UK and their backers created, and put an end to close passing for good.
“The long and short of it is that drivers who pose the greatest threat of harm on our roads need to get their house in order, or we’ll do it for them.”
A spokesperson from Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership said:
“Gloucestershire Police and the Road Safety Partnership are delighted to be supporting Cycling UK’s clever and imaginative Close-Pass Free Matt Scheme. We know how easily a simple mistake like passing too close to a cyclist can either end up putting off a rider or much worse end in tragedy. So we are determined to raise the responsibility we all have in sharing the road safely with everybody else, whether they’re in a another car or on a bike.
“We will work with Cycling UK to make this scheme a success and look forward to running the Close-Pass initiative in Gloucestershire very soon.”
For further information visit Cycling UK’s Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cyclinguk/toocloseforcomfort-the-cl...