Wiltshire Police take part in Operation Close Pass

We will be taking part in a new initiative this summer to crack down on motorists who drive too close to cyclists.

Operation Close Pass is being supported by Tri-Force specialist operations in partnership with Road Safety and Local Policing Teams, over the next two months, and the Wiltshire phase of the operation will take place later this month at a secret location.

In 2015, 18,844 cyclists were injured in reported road traffic collisions which included 3,289 who were killed or seriously injured in Britain. Analysis shows that driver action was the cause in the majority of collisions. The most significant risk was presented at junction locations, suggesting some people when driving are not looking out for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

Being passed too close by a driver is one of the biggest deterrents to cyclists using the region’s road network. Too many drivers fail to give cyclists the time and space to complete their journey safely, and are often unaware of the correct passing distance needed to give a rider.

Sgt Warren Knight, from Tri Force specialist operations, has been the driving force behind the operation.

He said: “We believe cooperative use of the road space is beneficial to all roads users. Over the next few months work is being undertaken to bring these types of operations to our local communities and support safe cycling in partnership with our road safety partners.

“This project is also being supported by Cycling UK who are providing forces with equipment. Cycling on our roads needs to be safe and all road users need to work together to reduce instances of those being killed and seriously injured on our roads.”

The campaign will involve a plain clothed traffic officer on a bike identifying drivers who pass dangerously close. If a driver passes too close, another traffic officer positioned further up the road will stop the driver.

The plain clothed officer will have a camera for recording any offences. Once the vehicle and driver’s details have been recorded and an eye test carried out, the driver will be offered the option of being reported for the offence of ‘driving due care and attention’ or to receive a short lesson about the correct way to overtake someone on a bicycle.

The lesson will include a life-size floor mat provided by Cycling UK, which will be used to explain how far away a vehicle should be from a rider when over-taking in a number of different scenarios.

Sam Jones, Cycling UK’s campaigns coordinator said: “Cycling UK is really pleased to see close pass operations being rolled out by forces across Wiltshire, Avon & Somerset and Gloucestershire, and using our education mat to do so. It shows that they are taking the threat of close passes, which are an almost daily occurrence for cyclists, seriously.

“We know overtaking that is too close for comfort is usually done from a position of ignorance, rather than malicious intent, which is why we’re pleased that Tri Force Road Policing’s focus is education first, and enforcement second. These mats are some of the first to be rolled out in the UK, and hopefully we’ll see a summer of safe cycling on all our roads as more forces take up similar operations.”

Operation Close Pass was developed by West Midlands Police and has proved to be an effective way of reducing near misses and improving safety on the roads for all road users.

Both drivers and cyclists can improve their driving and cycling by taking part in the training on the new Cycle Smarter website www.cyclesmarter.co.uk