Cycling UK has called West Midlands Police force's new zero tolerance approach to close-passes of cyclists by motorists the “best ever cyclist road safety initiative".
The BikeBiz report on the new stance went viral when it was published last Friday – it now has 7200 Facebook likes. The West Midlands Traffic Police Unit will be formally introducing the initiative this Friday at an event to be attended by unofficial "cycling Csar" Chris Boardman, who will represent British Cycling, and who fronts the video below about "how to overtake cyclists". The event will also be attended by officials from Cycling UK, the new name for CTC.
"Close passes of cyclists, sometimes called near misses, put riders at risk and put other people off cycling," said a statement from Cycling UK.
"West Midlands Police is the first force in the country to fully appreciate this and commit to a bold and intelligence-led enforcement operation to protect vulnerable road users."
Cycling UK added that: "The Highway Code rules clearly state that drivers should allow vulnerable road users as much room as they would a car when overtaking – but many people seem not to know this, and many who do ignore it."
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s senior road safety and legal campaigner, said: “Cyclists have been campaigning about close passes for years, with limited success. The priority given to tackling close passes, and the appreciation of the danger they present for cyclists, has varied between police forces.
“This is the first time a police force has come forward with a plan to prioritise enforcement against close pass drivers. It is quite simply the best cyclist safety initiative by any police force, ever."
He added: “West Midlands Police plan to combine enforcement and education to make sure drivers get the message that cyclists need space when being overtaken, and those who don’t give them space risk prosecution for careless driving. It is a simple but effective way to combat a long-standing concern and we hope other police forces around the country will follow their ingenious lead.”
David Cox, chair of Cycling UK’s Board of Trustees, who lives in the West Midlands, said: “Close passes by motorists are hazardous for cyclists and extremely intimidating. This may be due to ignorance of the Highway Code and carelessness but sometimes it is done deliberately and aggressively.
“We are delighted that West Midlands Police is to actively target close pass drivers. They are the first UK police force to do so, and it is a priority if the West Midlands is going to achieve the health, congestion and sustainability benefits of more active travel. The outcome will mean greater safety for everyone who cycles or would like to use a cycle for everyday trips."