Simon MacMichael June 22 2017
Cycling UK says that the ‘close pass’ mats that it bought earlier this year following a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign have been taken up by almost every police force in the UK.
The charity launched its #TooCloseForComfort initiative on Kickstarter in March, hitting its £12,000 target within 48 hours, and eventually raised £14,568 with nearly 1,000 people pledging financial support.
The decision to launch the campaign arose from the success of the close pass initiative launched last year by West Midlands Police which attracted interest from other forces across the country. The mats provide a visual representation of how much space motorists should give people on bikes when overtaking.
In a blog post, Sam Jones of Cycling UK wrote: “While fund raising is never easy, the hard work was still ahead, as we began seeking to find the right officers to speak to at the 45 forces across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and then convince them all of the value of running a close pass operation.
“Perhaps buoyed by both the public interest and that exhibited by several forces, it was perhaps a bit ambitious to think that we would be able to easily build a list for 45 forces each willing to take a mat and run a campaign to help make cycling safer.
“As spring started coming to a close, and many forces keen to begin operations, we instructed our printers to roll out the first tranche of mats for the 33 forces (see chart below) that had agreed to run close pass operations using Cycling UK’s close pass mats.
“All of these forces will have had their mats delivered by 16 June.
” Four police forces declined the offer.
The Metropolitan Police Service did so because it plans to undertake a close pass initiative that will not involve the use of mats, while City of London Police says it needs to adopt a different approach because of the specific issues involved in policing the Square Mile.
Lancashire Police already had their own mat, leaving Derbyshire Constabulary as the only police force in the UK not to embrace the initiative – although there are signs that could be changing.
Some other forces haven’t said ‘no’ but are yet to confirm they will accept the offer, with Jones saying: “We’re hoping peer pressure from the 34 forces which will run operations across the summer that they will reach out and start taking close passes seriously too.