Police hail success of ‘close pass’ initiative
West Midlands Police say there has been a 50% drop in poor overtaking of cyclists by drivers since the launch of Operation Close Pass in September 2016 (road.cc).
Under Operation Close Pass, police officers cycle along some of the region’s busiest routes looking out for motorists who do not leave the required space when passing cyclists.
The officers on bicycles pass details of any offending driver to in-car colleagues who intercept at a designated holding point, where they give out advice and instruction on safe overtaking.
Repeat offenders and anyone deemed to have driven dangerously close to a cyclist – around 1% of those stopped to date under the initiative - face prosecution.
The Highway Code states that drivers should allow vulnerable road users as much room as they would a car when overtaking.
Operation Close Pass has been described as the ‘best cyclist road safety initiative ever’ by Cycling UK, and the Road Danger Reduction Forum presented West Midlands Police with an award last year, describing the initiative as ‘the highlight of 2016’.
In a blog published last week, West Midlands Police said: “The numbers of close pass due care offences we receive have dropped by about 50% since the #GiveSpaceBeSafe initiative took effect on our regions roads.
“Within a week cyclists were contacting us to tell us things had had not only improved, but improved considerably.”
Third party camera footage is also being accepted as evidence by West Midlands Police, and the force is launching a digital reporting portal to make it easier for people to submit footage.
Speaking at the time of the launch of Operation Close Pass, PC Mark Hodson, West Midlands Police traffic officer and cyclist, said: "As a police force we must do our upmost to protect vulnerable road users and show that anyone who puts them in danger through poor driving will be dealt with.
"Cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces or obstacles like drain covers so it’s important to afford them plenty of room when overtaking.
"We know through our work with the Birmingham Cycle forum that close passing is the single biggest deterrent stopping more people from taking to their bikes.
"Drivers need to consider that a cyclist they are overtaking could be a police officer - and if they don’t pass them safely they could be prosecuted.”