Motorists in the North East are being urged to give cyclists more room when overtaking, as local authorities in the region launch a new campaign to eradicate close passing by drivers.
The regional initiative, spearheaded by Road Safety GB North East, is designed to help safeguard cyclists and educate road-users about safer overtaking.
The campaign is supported by police and fire officers from Cleveland and Durham, as well as the police and crime commissioner for each area, and is the latest to benefit from a ‘close pass safety mat’ donated by Cycling UK.
Other areas to be running similar campaigns using a Cycling UK mat include North Yorkshire, where Operation Spartan was launched in May, and Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, where a joint initiative between the area’s police forces was unveiled in June.
Between 2012 and 2016 there were 3,044 cyclists reported as injured on North East roads. Cyclist casualties in the region peak in July, August and September, with around a third of all collisions involving bikes happening over the summer months.
In the coming weeks, the mat will be taken to events across the North East to demonstrate the safe passing distance – 1.5m between vehicle and cyclist when overtaking at speeds less than 30mph, and more space in poor weather conditions or when travelling at higher speeds.
Paul Watson, chair of Road Safety GB NE, said: “During the summer, we see cyclist casualties increase, but the majority of collisions are preventable.
“If everyone was a little more cautious and alert, slowed down and gave each other space, a lot of accidents could be avoided.
“I don’t believe drivers knowingly put cyclists at risk, but perhaps they’re not looking for them, or maybe they are unaware of the dangers of close pass overtaking.
“People overtaking too close to cyclists is a cause of a number of collisions, however, there may be numerous near misses that we know nothing about. We are asking all road-users to look out for each other and to help safeguard cyclists."
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