Officers in the West Midlands have reported a 50 per cent drop in poor overtaking since they launched a close pass operation last year.
Operation Close Pass was launched by West Midlands Police in September 2016 by officers concerned traditional cycle safety operations weren’t tackling a major fear among cyclists, of close overtaking by drivers. A plain clothed police officer cycling radios close passes to a colleague who pulls the driver over and educates him or her, as well as deciding whether further action is required, such as referring the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The scheme was called the “best cyclist road safety initiative ever” by Cycling UK, and the Road Danger Reduction Forum presented officers with an award last year.
In a blog published yesterday, West Midlands Police wrote: “The numbers of close pass due care offences we receive have dropped by about 50% since the #GiveSpaceBeSafe initiative took effect on our regions roads”.
“Within a week cyclists were contacting us to tell us things had had not only improved, but improved considerably,” the blog notes, adding though there will always be close passes, “they have become a rarity rather than commonplace”.
“Admittedly the huge press attention helped, but if our future efforts to protect vulnerable road users have half the impact that this operation has had we will be guaranteed success each time.”
WMP say the operation is a good use of limited police resources, and is cost neutral – officers used their own bikes, and Cycliq gave the officers Fly cameras to test.
Officers say in 99 per cent of cases feedback from offenders was good, with around one per cent facing prosecution for poor driving judgement and skills.
However, it adds, “we still get the same amount of red light, mobile phone and other offences via third party footage though, no change there yet!”
The blog also identified what Bob Davis, RDRF Chair, describes as “risk compensation” by drivers, whose vehicles can protect them from even high speed crashes.