Police in Suffolk are running a cycling safety operation this week to highlight the dangers faced by cyclists as a result of motorists who drive too closely to them.
Operation ‘Close Pass’ will take place in and around Ipswich town centre on Wednesday 4 October. This will involve plain clothes police and community support officers out on bicycles to identify drivers of motor vehicles who don’t allow enough room when overtaking cyclists, follow too closely behind, or ‘left-hook’ them by overtaking and then turning left across their path.
The officers on bicycles will be equipped with action camera devices to secure and record evidence of driving offences. If an offence occurs they will then report this to uniformed officers on motorcycles who will be deployed within the operation area.
A motorcycle officer will then seek to stop the offending vehicle and provided the offence is not so serious as to warrant immediate enforcement action (e.g. drink-driving or dangerous driving), they will be offered the opportunity to be escorted back to an engagement site for a voluntary educational input.
If the driver of the offending vehicle declines the offer of an educational input, they will then be issued with a Traffic Offence Report for consideration of the offences of either careless driving, or driving without due care and attention. Completion of the educational course and the Traffic Offence Report both take around the same amount of time to complete.
The educational input will seek to make the driver aware of why their manner of driving was careless or inconsiderate, inform them of the typical hazards faced by cyclists and the use of a ‘Pass Mat’ which highlights the spacing that should be used for cyclists, with 1.5m being the recommended overtaking clearance.
Whilst drivers are receiving their educational input, a roads policing officer will conduct a cursory inspection of their vehicle to check it for any possible defects or illegal parts. Any offences will then be addressed once the driver has completed their educational input.
Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt, of the Serious Collision Investigation Team, said: "Between 2012 and 2015 over 750 pedal cycle casualties were recorded in Suffolk, with the number of ‘near miss’ incidents unconfirmed but undoubtedly much higher.
"The aim of this operation is to highlight the dangers posed to cyclists by motor vehicles and to increase awareness amongst other road users as to how their manner of driving could result in causing serious injury to a cyclist.
"The focus of the day will to use education as an alternative to prosecution, as we want to inform drivers on why their driving was careless and take the opportunity to change attitudes towards cyclists.
"We also want to raise confidence among cyclists that we are committed to making our roads safe for everyone to use and we hope this also helps encourage other people to take up cycling, who may otherwise be deterred due to concerns over safety.”
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, said: "It is really important that everyone that uses our roads has consideration for fellow road users, whether you are on four wheels, two wheels or on foot.
"I fully support this Operation ‘Close Pass’. Many of our cyclists are at serious risk of being clipped by vehicles and it is important that we do all we can to highlight the issue.”