News article

Police encourage mutual respect between motorists and cyclists

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Operation Close Pass - initiative to make roads safer for all

On Tuesday 11th July 2017, the Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police Alliance roads policing teams simultaneously launched Operation Close Pass.

Operation Close Pass is an initiative intended to improve the safety of cyclists on the road by educating drivers on how to overtake them safely. It aims to raise awareness amongst motorists and cyclists alike on how to behave courteously to each other on the regions roads.

A Close Pass operation was carried out on Billacombe Road in Plymouth from 8.30am.

Head of roads policing for the Alliance, Chief Inspector Adrian Leisk, said: “Rolling out Close Pass across in Devon and Cornwall is in direct response to feedback we have received from cycling groups and individual cyclists about the danger and discourtesy they face on a daily basis on the regions' roads.

“Our figures indicate approximately 400 or so collisions involving cyclists every year, 200 to 300 of which result in slight injury, 50 to 80 in serious injury. There were 4 cyclist fatalities in each of the years from 2012 to 2016.

“This initiative is very important in the safeguarding and education of our community of road users.”

Close Pass works by volunteer police officers in cycling clothes, effectively ‘undercover’, taking to the road on bicycles fitted with cameras which record the behaviour of drivers who overtake them.

If offences are found to have taken place, the officer radios colleagues further down the road to direct the offending vehicle into a checkpoint where the driver will be offered roadside education using a specially designed mat (see attached images) which illustrates the safe passing distance.

Anyone refusing road side education will receive a fixed penalty notice of £100 and three points on their licence for the offence of ‘driving a vehicle without reasonable consideration of others’.

Six drivers were stopped during the two hour operation, and all accepted advice from officers illustrated with the special educational mat which shows clearly the safe distances for cyclist to avoid kerbing and for drivers to pass them. They were given literature One police cyclist, PC Chris Dixon, made multiple runs along Billacombe Road for the duration of the short operation.

The initiative is supported by the Police and Crime Commissioners of both forces. Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez, who attended the operation and spoke with officers involved and members of local cycle action groups, said: “Road safety is a priority for me within our Police and Crime Plan. I am delighted to support Operation Close Pass which is a great opportunity to educate and inform drivers and cyclists in order to make our roads safer for everyone. This initiative isn’t about penalising people – it is about educating drivers on how to interact safely with cyclists on our roads. Cyclists must also be responsible and the team will be working with them throughout the initiative.”

Close Pass has been made possible in Devon and Cornwall by working closely with partner organisations. The educational mats were provided by national cycling charity Cycling UK which received donations from 970 cyclists via Kickstarter to fund provision of enough mats for all 45 police forces in the UK. Some of the camera equipment fitted to the police officers cycles was funded by Cycle Engage UK, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to encourage cycling in all its forms via community engagement and its own woman’s racing squad, Team RGB Building Supplies.

As part of the campaign, Halfords stores across Devon, Cornwall and Dorset have agreed to issue all new bike owners with police guidance on their rights and responsibilities whilst cycling.

Devon and Cornwall Police roads policing sergeant Gary Williamson, who has been instrumental in adopting the close pass scheme, said: “Devon and Cornwall’s roads contain a community of users which we are committed to safeguarding. Close Pass is designed to make all members of that community more aware of each other and to raise the level of mutual respect and courtesy and, ultimately, safety.”

“As a roads policing officer it is people like me who see the results of collisions between vehicles and cyclists, or have to tell a family that one of their loved ones isn’t coming home. Close pass is vital in keeping people safer and reducing the number of injuries and deaths on our roads.”

Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police Shaun Sawyer said: “As a motorist and cyclist I support this initiative as it seeks to educate motorists and cyclists as to their behaviours and perceptions on the road. At the heart of this, few cyclists would wish to wilfully obstruct the road, not least as many of them are motorists themselves. Similarly, few motorists would wish to jeopardise the safety of cyclists. On too many occasions lack of attention and courtesy leads to serious injury and fatality on our roads. This initiative is critical to our wider campaign of improving public safety, particularly in respect of young people.”


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