Give cyclists enough space when overtaking

Posted on: 21 September 2017

An exercise to help remind drivers to leave the correct amount of space when overtaking cyclists has been welcomed by local cycling groups.

The Devon and Cornwall and Dorset Police Alliance’s roads policing team, with support from Devon County Council, Police and Crime Commissioners, and cycling groups, carried out the exercise at a busy stretch of of Cowley Bridge Road in Exeter this week.

‘Close Pass’ is an initiative to improve cyclists’ safety on the road by educating drivers on how to overtake safely.  It was an exercise first launched in Plymouth, in July.

To carry out the exercise, volunteer police officers in cycling clothes took to the road on bikes fitted with cameras to record the behaviours of drivers overtaking them.

If not enough space was allowed, offending drivers were pulled over onto a specially designed mat that illustrates the safe passing distance.

Five drivers received education at the roadside, and three were given penalties for using mobile phones handheld while driving.

The initiative is supported by the Police and Crime Commissioners of Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police. Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez said:

“I receive regular contact from cyclists about the behaviour of other road users towards them.

“Our partners work incredibly hard to provide safe, cycle only thoroughfares but cyclists have just as much right to be on the roads as all other users and, due to their vulnerability, it is vital that drivers give them enough space to stay safe.

“After the launch of the initiative in Plymouth in July I am pleased to see similar deployment of the operation in Exeter.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for cycling, said:

“We’re a cycling county and we want to make our road network as safe as possible for everyone, so we’re pleased to be supporting the Police on this important initiative.

“Cyclists are among the most vulnerable road users and Operation Close Pass, which complements our existing Give Cyclists Space initiative, is simply asking motorists to leave a safe amount of room when passing cyclists.

“We want everyone to share our roads and shared paths safely, be patient and show consideration for each other.”

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

The educational mats used in the exercise were provided by national charity Cycling UK, which received donations from 970 cyclists via Kickstarter to fund provision of 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.

Tom Staniford, Director of Cycle Engage UK said:

“We are very grateful that Devon and Cornwall Police has begun live operations today, particularly as it’s on our doorstep! Local cyclists will be familiar with the close passes that happen on Cowley Bridge Road, so we’re very appreciative that it has been chosen as the site of the first Close Pass operation in Exeter.”

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns and Advocacy said:

“Anyone who has ridden a bike can regale you with tales of the close passes they’ve had, and how threatened they felt. It’s a regular occurrence on our roads, and one which Cycling UK believes is rarely down to malicious driver behaviour, just a lack of understanding of the dangers of overtaking too closely.”

Caspar Hughes of the Exeter Cycling Campaign said:

“The Exeter Cycling Campaign welcomes the Close Pass operation to Exeter. People who commute to work face on average, one life threatening close pass a week. It is these dangerous conditions that keeps two thirds of people that want to cycle but don’t feel safe, from riding.”

2 comments on “Give cyclists enough space when overtaking

  1. P Blackmore says:

    It is good that the council has provided so many cycle lanes and at great cost. However it is not good that cyclist continue to use the road putting themselves in danger. Bridge road is a particular case in point.

  2. chris says:

    Its great that there is education for drivers on how to behave safely around cyclists, could there also be education for cyclists on how to behave safely when cycling in traffic?

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