Police in Gloucestershire are the latest to sign up to Operation Close Pass, an initiative being rolled out by forces across the UK to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers not giving enough space to people riding bikes.
With echoes of the 1970’s campaign Think once! Think twice! Think bike! Operation Close Pass is designed to proactively detect and educate drivers who pass too close to cyclists.
It is also timely as 21 local schools have so far signed-up to take part in the ‘Big Pedal 2021’, the UK’s largest inter-school cycling, walking, wheeling and scooting challenge which aims to encourage active travel to and from school.
Video evidence will be used to identify, educate and prosecute dangerous drivers. Safer Gloucestershire, which spearheads the county’s community safety agenda, is putting-up signs promoting the safe distance between cyclists and motorists in 100 locations nominated by local people.
Detective Superintendent Paul Keasey, Gloucestershire Constabulary’s ‘Safe & Social Roads’ Police lead said, “Now more than ever, I urge motorists to give cyclists, and other vulnerable road users, especially children, plenty of space.
“Over the summer months we will be conducting Operation Close Pass in locations across Gloucestershire to promote the safe use of shared road space and I encourage all road users to show consideration and respect for the safety of each other.
“Rates of cycling have increased across the country and it’s important that we keep up this positive shift in behaviour and that it is supported by all road users. There is room for everyone”.
Although the close pass scenario is not defined as a specific offence, the correct minimum passing distance is usually defined as 1.5 metres. Drivers seen passing cyclists within that space are liable to be stopped by police and spoken to on the spot. Anyone unreceptive to education will be cautioned for careless or dangerous driving and receive a court summons.
Nigel Lloyd-Jones, who leads on Safe and Social Driving for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner said, “With a significant increase in the number of people cycling during lockdown, it’s even more important that our roads are safe.
“Drivers need to be aware of vulnerable road users around them and give them at least a car’s width and even more when passing at higher speeds, even if that means waiting at a safe distance until there is space to pass.
“Cycling reduces our carbon footprint, improves our air quality and is fantastic for our personal health and wellbeing and should be encouraged”.
Road safety for all road users remains a priority for Gloucestershire Constabulary and is an integral part of the PCC’s priority of ‘Safe & Social Roads’.
Operation Close Pass is a combined effort with contributions from Gloucestershire Cycling clubs, Cycling UK and statutory road safety partners.
Proposed activities will consist of raising awareness, providing education and, where necessary, enforcement. Road side demonstrations utilising “close pass” mats will provide a visual representation of a close pass.