The principles of Operation Close Pass – an initiative designed to improve the safety of cyclists – have been adapted by Dorset Police to provide the same benefits to horse riders.
Founded by West Midlands Police, the original Operation Close Pass sees officers educate drivers on how to safely overtake cyclists.
It involves plain clothed police officers – typically fitted with cameras – cycling along selected roads to look for motorists who do not leave the required space when passing.
Operation Close Pass has been used by Dorset Police since 2017 – and its success has seen the force receive a multitude of comments from the equine community about their safety on the county’s roads.
In response, the local police and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill, and the British Horse Society, have adapted the initiative so it can be used to help protect horse riders.
This included liaising with students at Kingston Maurward Equine College in Dorchester, who produced educational literature in order to support what is now known as Operation Close Pass – Horse Safe, which was launched in March 2019.
Under Operation Close Pass – Horse Safe any driver who passes the police cyclist unsafely is offered the chance to learn about the importance of leaving a safe distance when passing a horse and rider – with the help of leaflets, booklets and a safe passing mat.
Dorset Police says feedback has been positive and that the region’s equine community feels valued on the road, alongside all other road users.
The Highway Code recommends that drivers should give vulnerable road users – such as motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders – the same amount of room as they would when overtaking a car, typically 1.5m.
For more information contact Heidi Moxam, road casualty reduction officer for Dorset, via email.