Drivers who endanger the safety of cyclists and horse riders by passing them too closely are being targeted by police in Northamptonshire as part of a new campaign.
Northamptonshire Police has become the latest UK force to launch a version of Operation Close Pass – in an effort to promote the message that roads are shared space for all who use them.
First devised by West Midlands Police in 2016, the original Operation Close Pass involves plain clothed police officers – fitted with cameras – saddling up to look for motorists who do not leave the required space when passing cyclists.
If an offence is detected, the officer contacts colleagues further down the road to direct the vehicle to a checkpoint where the driver will be offered roadside education.
As part of the Northamptonshire campaign, officers will also be explaining to cyclists how ‘riding proactively’ can enhance their safety. Members of the force’s Volunteers of Horseback (VoH) will be educating drivers about how to safely pass horses and riders.
The Highway Code recommends that road users 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.
PC Maureen Allsopp-Clarke, Northamptonshire Police, said: “Operation Close Pass is about educating everyone that roads are shared spaces, where all users have a right to respect and a responsibility to help keep themselves and others safe.
“By reminding people how to safely pass cyclists and horse riders, and helping vulnerable road users understand how to protect themselves through measures such as safe road positioning, we hope to make Northamptonshire’s roads safer for everyone.”
Operation Close Pass is part of a range of road safety initiatives being undertaken by the force and partners Northamptonshire Highways and the office of the police and crime commissioner – including educational work with cyclists and the distribution of free bike lights.
Neil Holland, cycling access officer at Northamptonshire Highways, said: “Cycling has proven health benefits and also benefits the wider community by reducing traffic and improving air quality. It’s also generally a very safe activity that is a lot of fun.
“Many people state road safety concerns as the main reason they don’t cycle, so Operation Close Pass is a very positive step in addressing these concerns and encouraging more people to cycle.”