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Friday 28 July 2017, 3:15 PM

Five people were pulled over by police officers in Cheltenham yesterday, Thursday 27 July, during a successful operation to promote road safety.

Operation Close Pass aims to educate drivers about safe distances for overtaking cyclists and therefore reduce the number of collisions involving bikes. 

It is in support of PCC Martin Surl’s Police and Crime Plan priority of Safe and Social Driving.

Gloucestershire Constabulary, including five members of the Special Constabulary, ran the operation in the Hatherley area yesterday morning where plain clothes officers cycled along a designated route and reported to uniformed colleagues any motorists who they considered had passed too close to them during overtaking.

Those motorists were then offered advice instead of prosecution and were taken to a collection area at Bournside School. There they were breathalysed, asked to read a number plate from a distance and shown a safe overtaking scenario using a stationary bike and car.

The first driver to be pulled over, a local man, said he had not realised that he had passed too close to the cyclist and confessed that he "didn't think of cyclists as often as I should".

He did not have a problem with being pulled over by police, however, and said: "They are doing their job and they are doing it really well. I do not have a problem with them making sure that I am safe and that others on the road are safe."

Operation Close Pass is a national initiative created by West Midlands Police.

Superintendent Charlie Laporte said yesterday: "I am very pleased with how this morning's operation went and the response we have had from members of the public.

"The operation ran for just under two hours, in a very small area, and during that time we identified five drivers who passed too close to cyclists when they were overtaking.  During a full day in a bigger area that number would be much higher, meaning that many more cyclists must be at risk.

"Operation Close Pass is an excellent way of getting the message across to motorists, many of whom are not aware of the potential danger they pose when overtaking cyclists. They should allow as much distance between them on a bike as they would a car. That is a minimum of 1.5 metres (or approximately a car door's width) in built up areas which are subject to a 30 mph, more in non-built-up areas or in adverse weather conditions.

"We plan to run similar operations with our road safety partners in the future, and continue our education and awareness work to ensure that all road users in Gloucestershire are kept safe."

Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire: “The reaction from the public to Operation Close Pass is encouraging, and I hope that the motorists who were pulled over this morning will consider cyclists more carefully from now on. Road safety is an integral part of my Police and Crime Plan, with Safe and Social Driving one of the five priorities. Real success would be mutual respect from both motorists and cyclists and for them both to be able to view their actions from the others’ perspective. Everyone – whether on foot, horse, motorcycle, car and indeed, bike – must be able to share our roads in safety”.

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