A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, launched by Cycling UK to enable police forces across the country to adopt an initiative to discourage ‘close passing’ of cyclists, reached its £12k target in less than 48 hours.
Launched on 9 March, the Cycling UK crowdfunding initiative, ‘Too Close for Comfort’, aimed to raise money to fund the purchase of 50 safe pass mats. To date (13 Mar), 898 backers have pledged a total of £13,769.
The mats will now be distributed to forces operating across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to allow them to operate a similar education and enforcement operation. Cycling UK says several forces have shown interest in having mats provided.
The West Midlands Police initiative, ‘Give Space, Be Safe’, launched in September 2016 and has been widely acclaimed since then. Under the scheme, plain-clothed police officers saddle up to identify motorists who do not leave the required space when passing cyclists.
The officers on bicycles pass on details of offending drivers to in-car colleagues who intercept them at a designated holding point, where they use a ‘safe pass’ mat to demonstrate how to overtake cyclists.
According to Cycling UK, driving behaviour in the West Midlands area ‘changed overnight’, with a 50% reduction in reported close pass offences in the first three months.
The cycling charity also points to findings from Dr Rachel Aldred’s Near Miss Project, which finds that close passes account for a third of threatening encounters cyclists have with motor vehicles.
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.
PC Steve Hudson, West Midlands Traffic Police, said: “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.”
UK police forces to adopt ‘Give Space, be Safe’ initiative
09 February 2017
Police hail success of ‘close pass’ initiative
16 January 2017
16 September 2016