Three more police forces launch ‘close pass’ initiative

12.00 | 5 June 2017 | | 2 comments

Image: Avon and Somerset Police, via Twitter.

Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Police* have become the latest UK forces to adopt a ‘close pass’ initiative, targeting hotspot roads where a high number of cycling ‘near misses’ have been recorded.

Under the 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, where they use a ‘safe pass’ mat provided by Cycling UK to demonstrate how to overtake cyclists.

Avon and Somerset’s first day of operations took place last Friday (2 June). As well as close passing motorists, cyclists behaving dangerously were also targeted during the operation on roads in Bristol and Bath.

As part of the initiative, off-duty police officers have volunteered to carry cameras during recreational cycle journeys – with the footage obtained to be used to offer education to offending drivers, or to prosecute where appropriate.

Chief inspector Kevan Rowlands, head of road safety, Avon and Somerset Police said: “Since the beginning of 2017 we’ve received more than 240 reports of near misses, which suggests that people aren’t aware of how much space they should leave when overtaking, or perhaps choose to ignore this advice.

“Drivers should give cyclists at least the same amount of space as vehicles when overtaking, which is 1.5 metres or approximately a car door width. Anyone failing to leave enough space puts cyclists at risk and could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.

“I know cyclists behave badly too but that poor behaviour is less likely to result in death or serious injury than poor behaviour by the drivers of cars and other motor vehicles.”

*Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Police Forces work collaboratively through a ‘Tri Force’ roads policing unit.

Related stories

Operation Spartan looks to protect North Yorkshire’s cyclists 
17 May 2017

Police hail success of ‘close pass’ initiative
16 January 2017

Police to ‘actively target’ close passing motorists
16 September 2016

Want to know more about cycling and road safety?
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory


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    The police in Blackpool would have a problem identifying drivers that pass to close to cyclists on our highways. The reason for this is quite simple…. all the cyclists that I see ride on the pavement… it’s as if the Highways Acts, Road Traffic Acts and the Town Police Clauses Acts do not and have never existed.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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    Saw a near-miss today when a speeding motorist came up behind a slow moving cyclist on the slight gradient approaching a blind, hump-backed bridge – couldn’t be bothered with the inconvenience of slowing down until it was safe to pass the cyclist on the other side, so overtook on the hump-backed bridge and came face to face with an oncoming vehicle. Not the first time I’ve seen it at this location. Patience and discipline and some brains are sadly lacking out there. No – I wasn’t able to get the Reg No. to report it

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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