Undercover police cyclist captures drivers overtaking too close in city
VIDEO: Undercover police cyclists captures Portsmouth drivers overtaking too close
The News joined police as they filmed six drivers who got too close to cyclists in just two hours in Northern Parade, Hilsea, on Tuesday.
It comes as Hampshire’s road policing unit has launched West Midland Police’s ‘close pass’ operation, as previously revealed by The News.
Two days of action in Portsmouth this week saw PC Phil Roberston out on a bike radioing through to a uniformed colleague on a marked motorbike whenever a vehicle passed too closely.
The night before, on Monday, roads policing officers had stopped more than 130 cyclists to give road safety advice about staying visible.
Within minutes of getting in the saddle, PC Robertson was overtaken closely by a Colas truck, then a car.
He said: ‘When you’ve got a two or three-and-a-half tonne truck that passes you within 20 or 30cm – I’m 15st and it made me physically shake – it gives you a small shot of adrenaline and the thought “I really don’t like that”.
‘That’s why what we’re doing is important.
‘The second guy, I passed a line of cars and was keeping a nice safe gap next to me and for some reason he didn’t use the whole of the road.
‘He felt it necessary to pass me within about a foot, but while he was accelerating.
‘You feel the car accelerate, you feel the rush of air push you and it makes the whole bike and you shake.’
‘There is nothing, there are no air bags. I have a cycle helmet and a nice bright jacket, but when it’s me and the road it’s going to hurt.
‘When you’re sat in your car you’re just not aware, you’ve got seatbelt pretensioners, a beautiful big safety zone and you’re quite happy.
‘But on a bike you are the most vulnerable person on the road.’
All drivers stopped on Tuesday morning were told they could have faced prosecution for driving without due care and attention, but were instead given 15 minutes of training.
Police used a mat designed to show distances drivers should leave while overtaking, based on a cyclist travelling 75cm out from the side of the road.
Colas truck driver Peter Pascoe, 69, of Winstanley Road, was the first to be stopped in the morning.
He said: ‘I saw the two cyclists in front of me. I was aware – they’re saying I never gave them enough room, but to me I did.
‘In future I’m going to have to give that little bit more room. But it’s hard because some of them come right out.’
Julian Albericci, 61, was heading home when he was stopped by police.
Mr Albericci said: ‘I appreciate that I need to take a bit more care. I didn’t realise it’s 1.5 metres (I should leave) but now I know.’
Chantale Goble of Cressy Road, Buckland, was also pulled over by the police.
The 25-year-old told The News she did not see the cyclist and took the advice.
‘When you’ve been driving for a little while, sometimes you forget,’ she said.
The three drivers all praised the police operation.
Last year the Department for Transport revealed 888 cyclists were injured per one million population in the city in 2015 – worse than anywhere else except London.
In the county there was a 50 per cent increase in fatalities in 2016, compared to 2015.
Inspector Darren Ord was behind the action, which was also carried out in Eastleigh.
Insp Ord, from the Joint Operations Unit, said: ‘We frequently receive complaints about drivers who don’t give cyclists enough space when overtaking.
He added: ‘A close pass not only presents danger to the cyclist but it’s also intimidating.
‘Drivers should be allowing other road users as much room as they would a car – but many seem to not know this, or choose to ignore it.’
The force’s Give Space And Be Safe campaign is backed by Portsmouth City Council.
Michael Lane, Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner, is also backing the campaign on the county’s roads.
Mr Lane said: ‘The safety of all road users is of equal importance, but some groups are more vulnerable to harm, including cyclists.’