Merseyside latest partnership to launch close pass initiative

12.00 | 25 July 2017 | | 3 comments

Merseyside has become the latest area where a ‘close pass’ initiative has been introduced in order to better protect the region’s cyclists.

Launched on 21 July, Operation Safe Pass has been introduced by the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership’s safer roads team with the aim of educating drivers about the minimum space needed when overtaking cyclists.

The Highway Code stipulates that motorists should give cyclists at least the same distance as vehicles when overtaking, generally considered to be a minimum of 1.5 metres. Anyone encroaching within the safe passing distance runs the risk of being prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.

Under the ‘close pass’ scheme, first developed by West Midlands Police in 2016, 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.

Other areas of the country where a close pass initiative has been introduced include:

The Merseyside partnership’s first day of operations took place in Southport with a total of 21 motorists pulled over in a three-hour period.

A cycling mat was used to explain passing distances, with leaflets handed out to passing members of the public and cyclists.

Jane Kennedy, Merseyside’s police commissioner, said: “Since 2010 Merseyside has witnessed an increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured on its roads.

“This operation is designed to better educate drivers so they are aware of the space they need to allocate when passing cyclists, but it also carries with it a deterrent – those who continue to flout the law will be prosecuted.

Sergeant Ian McPhail, Merseyside Road Safety Partnership, said: “We know that the failure by some drivers to give cyclists sufficient space when overtaking is a significant factor in why people are put off from using bikes.

“Drivers need to be aware that by passing a cyclist too closely they are putting an individual in danger. I want to get the message out ‘pass safer, not closer’”.




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    What I can’t understand is that many years ago when plethera of cycling paths were painted onto the road cyclists were being overtaken then much closer than today and no one complained about the lack of space or close proximity or possible danger to the cyclists. So why do we appear to have that problem now and not then. It seems that much is being made about nothing. In order get a conviction in court who is going to stand up and verify that 4.5 ft was a safe enough distnance as it’s not written down in any law book at all. So how can one then give this arbitarry distance legal status as it was decided upon by someone, somewhere proposed and then adopted by the police as a lawful measurement. I just wonder whether a conviction would stand up to scrutiny.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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    What is the situation when a cyclist forces their way up your left hand side in moving traffic with inches to spare and the car drivers feels that they are now in danger of endangering the cyclist.

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    If we look at paragraph two then my understanding of what is says is that the vast majority of drivers if not ALL drivers commit the offence of driving without due care and attention if they do not give stationary or moving vehicles at least 4.5 metres. I have to say if that were the correct then total gridlock would follow. What we need to determine also is speed and possible danger created. If the space ahead become narrower then we need to slow down and overtake or move through it with caution. That is taught in the police manuals and is in all aspects of safe and advanced driving and riding manuals. We do know that whilst we as vehicle drivers are required to give that safe space there is no need for cyclists to do the same in order to keep themselves safer on our roads. They can squeeze through any space that will acomodate them and with little regards to not only their own safety but the safety and concerns of others.

    m.worthington Manchester
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