Motorists who overtake cyclists too closely can “expect prosecution, not education,” says a strongly-worded statement from a UK police force. In the statement the West Midlands Police Traffic Unit leaves no doubt who it believes is normally most at fault in smashes involving cyclists and motorists (hint: it's not cyclists). The statement also says the force has a "zero tolerance approach for any offence involving a vulnerable road user."
Oh, for other police forces around the UK to have the same no-nonsense approach!
The West Midlands Police Traffic Unit says it anticipates a "change in driver behaviour" because of its tough new stance especially once "awareness of the tactic spreads." Non-uniformed police cyclists are to start patrolling close-pass hotspots.
The police force statement says "analysis of collisions shows that in ...[crashes on the road involving cars and bicycles] the blame would lie solely with the driver not the cyclist."
This, says the force, is due to motorists looking out only for other motorists. If motorists do not give cyclists the "time and space necessary, or fail to see them completely [the motorists] should expect to be prosecuted."
The statement was issued via the force's traffic blog, and adds: "Once drivers become aware that an infringement involving a cyclist is one they should expect to be prosecuted for they suddenly become more aware of [cyclists] on the road."
The only way to change driver behaviour is "through enforcement, and the resulting fear of being prosecuted," says the force.
It would be a waste of police time to "concentrate on cyclist behaviour," says the statement, because cyclists are "innocent in the majority of collisions."
Cyclists are not "killing nearly 100 people on our regions' roads as mechanically propelled vehicles currently do," says the force.
Pavement cycling might be a nuisance to some but is not, says the police statement, a "priority for a force like our own in a modern day society."
Motorists caught overtaking cyclists closely but not life-threatingly-close will still be offered education. "If the opposite carriageway is available for an overtake and isn’t used in its entirety the driver will be pulled and shown why they should utilise all the available road room available to facilitate a safe overtake," says the force's statement.
The education will "equip drivers with the knowledge needed to prevent further offences being committed."