Was South Yorkshire Police right not to follow West Midlands Police’s ‘close pass’ initiative? We look at the numbers
Simon MacMichael January 11 2017
Analysis by road.cc of government road casualty statistics has found that the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on South Yorkshire’s roads each year is higher, per million inhabitants, than it in the West Midlands. The respective areas’ police forces have a markedly different approach, however, to dealing with drivers who endanger people on bikes.
We decided to drill down into the statistics after South Yorkshire Police said in December it does not intend to follow West Midlands Police’s widely praised Operation Close Pass because not enough cyclists are killed on the roads it polices to warrant adopting the approach.
Responding to an enquiry from campaign group Cycle Sheffield, South Yorkshire Police said: “Clearly one death per year is one too many, however, deaths involving cyclists in South Yorkshire are nowhere near the levels that they are in the West Midlands or other parts of the country.”
When it comes to fatalities alone, they’re correct. In South Yorkshire, six cyclists lost their lives between 2011 and 2015, an average of just over one a year, while in the West Midlands, there were 20 deaths, with four a year on average.
But looking just at incidents where someone has lost their life can be misleading, not least because of the small sample sizes. It also ignores people who have sustained what can often be life-changing injuries.