Crackdown on driving too closely to cyclists

By Surrey and Hants News in Emergency Services

Officers from the joint operations roads policing unit have begun implementing a ‘Give Space, Be Safe’ scheme in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight.

This intelligence-led operation was pioneered by West Midlands Police and aims to target drivers who fail to follow the Highway Code rules on passing distances when overtaking cyclists.

Police say the most important message is for all road users to be considerate and respectful, and to avoid confrontation.

In Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight, 21 per cent of accidents killing or seriously injuring cyclists occur between 7am and 9am, and 4pm and 7pm, on weekdays.

Three-quarters of collisions causing death or serious injury to cyclists happen on urban roads with 30mph speed limits, and 81 per cent of those killed or seriously hurt are male.

Portsmouth and Southampton are the most dangerous places in the two counties to ride a bike, while the most common reason given for a crash by drivers is that they look for cyclists but do not always spot them.

The campaign sees a plain clothed police officer, wearing a cycling helmet containing a concealed camera and riding an unmarked bike with another camera fitted to it, radioing details of drivers who passed too close to them to colleagues further up the road in a marked vehicle.

Offenders are stopped and given roadside education on the Highway Code, which states that drivers should overtake cyclists only when it is safe and legal to do so, and that they should allow as much room as they would when overtaking a car. They were also given an eyesight test and had their documents checked.

Motorists deemed to be driving dangerously close to cyclists can expect to be taken to court for careless driving.

Hampshire Constabulary, The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire County Council and the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have joined forces to launch the scheme.

Insp Darren Ord said: “We frequently receive complaints about drivers who don’t give cyclists enough space when overtaking.

"Since last year we’ve been busy behind the scenes researching and considering the feasibility of this scheme - consulting with West Midlands Police on its successes, running a pilot study last December and attending their ‘close pass’ conference in January this year.

“We’re pleased that we are now in the position to be implementing it across the Hampshire and Thames Valley area and begin to see it making a difference to cyclist safety.

“A close pass not only presents danger to the cyclist, but it’s also intimidating.

“Drivers should be allowing other road users as much room they would a car, but many seem to not know this - or choose to ignore it.”