Operation Close Pass arrives in Wales

11.56 | 18 July 2018 | | 9 comments

An operation which aims to improve the safety of cyclists by educating drivers on how to overtake them safely has launched in Wales.

First devised by West Midlands Police in 2016, Operation Close Pass has since been adopted by police forces across England and Scotland.

The operation will now run in Wales for the first time – as a result of a collaboration between South Wales Police, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and Go Safe, the safety camera partnership.

South Wales Police says the initiative will help increase awareness of driving etiquette and how to drive courteously.

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 from fire service colleagues using equipment which illustrates the safe passing distance.

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.

Jennifer Gilmer, assistant chief constable for South Wales Police, said: “Protecting vulnerable road users is vitally important for police forces across the country.

“Operation Close Pass highlights the vulnerable position many cyclists are put in; it shows drivers what happens when they drive dangerously and don’t leave enough room when overtaking.”

Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s economy and transport secretary, said: “I cannot praise this scheme highly enough. Contrary to common perception, the vast majority of pedal cyclist casualties occur not during complex manoeuvres, but when the cyclist is simply going along.

“We need to find a way of keeping safe those people who have made the decision to have healthier, more active and sustainable lives, and those who just enjoy riding their bikes.”



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    How about we just try to keep each other safe? Passing close to a cyclist is dangerous, it would only take one loose stone or pothole to put them under your wheels. Maybe everybody should assume that every cyclist/pedestrian/horse rider is a much loved member of your family and give them as much space as you’d like a lorry/bus to give your toddler/mum/gran. I don’t get people’s issue with keeping other people safe. Is a couple of minutes (absolute maximum in most cases) of your time worth the pain and suffering caused by killing another road user? Worse, is getting to the back of a queue worth that? It really is time for a lot of road users to have a think. Not all by the way, I ride every day with my 2 year old on the back, and the vast majority of drivers I come across are excellent!

    Alex, PENARTH
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Filtering is generally OK but SOME left side filtering is dangerous whether on push bike or motorbike. It is not an absolute, context is critical.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)


    A person on a bike ‘passing on the left’ is not overtaking. They are filtering usually past still or slow moving traffic. It is a completely different thing to overtaking at 30 / 40 MPH. There is no equivalence between the two so the police could not prosecute a cyclist for filtering.

    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

    Bob: The officer I referred to didn’t have to pass at all, that was my point.. he could and should have waited. He wasn’t forced to accommodate a distance – he was just impatient! The actual passing distance was immaterial in this case, although it was adequate.

    It’s simply a poor reflection on driving standards with respect to cyclists.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    Hugh. The police officer put himself and other road users in danger and committed a possible road traffic offence just to accommodate a distance that has no lawful history.

    Keith. The undertaking by a cyclist is not considered to be against the law unless something untoward happens. It’s considered as filtering and in law that is lawful unless there are consequences and a court deems it to be unlawful. One law of one and another for another.

    Charles…..There is no distance in law but an arbitrary distance was presumably put forward by someone. I believe that someone to be from within the cycling fraternity and it was adopted rightly or wrongly by a single Constabulary and since then it has been adopted by many more. Now I am with you that there are are a lot of circumstances that need to be taken into account before such a prosecution could be considered.

    As a historic note, many decades ago we painted cycle paths along many of our highways and this was for the sole purpose and use of cyclists and no one complained then about close passing so why is it such a problem to cyclists nowadays?

    Finally Guzzi. I am with you and as yet it’s never been tested in a Court of Law. Who will take it right up to the Courts of Appeal? As said the H.C. merely makes a recommendation for distance but no absolute distance was prescribed. They left it as a grey area, understanding perhaps that many things need to be taken into account before a prosecution should take place one, of those being that for others the free passage along a Highway would be threatened if a measure was actually adopted. As it is has been now. Forgive me, but can the police make law? Yes they can use their discretion on many matters but it must in the end be proven that such a closer overtake was unlawful, not merely that it was within an arbitrary distance not agreed in law.

    Agree (2) | Disagree (8)

    Looking forward to the day a driver who is a lawyer deciding to challenge this specific 1.5m distance number. I’m sure the Highway Code was subjective on this point for a good reason.

    Guzzi, Newport
    Agree (6) | Disagree (4)

    I wonder where the “typically 1.5m” comes from. It is misleading to suggest or imply that it is from the Highway Code, because it is not in there. The HC only recommends “at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car” (r. 163) or “plenty of room” (rr. 212 & 213). The minimum safe gap surely depends on the circumstances – speed, road width, road surface, weather, etc

    Charles, England
    Agree (7) | Disagree (5)

    Can I ask how the Police intend to respond to cyclists who place a motorist within the 1.5m distance by themselves passing on the left in a dangerous manner.

    Not all incidents are the fault of the motorist.

    If motorists become subject to prosecution should not the cyclist face a fine for breaching the law and putting both themselves and a motorist in a dangerous situation that is their to protect them.

    Agree (10) | Disagree (9)

    Yesterday I saw a police car coming up behind a cyclist on the approach to a blind crest – did the driver wait until he cleared the crest before passing? No..he passed wide, blind on the approach to and over the crest, in the oncoming lane. Doh. Still, he gave the cyclist a wide berth though.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

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