Undercover police cyclists set to catch motorists who overtake too closely

UNDERCOVER traffic police will ride along busy roads in a bid to crackdown on motorists who overtake too close to cyclists, The News can reveal.

Monday, 30th January 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 30th January 2017, 9:18 am
Officers carrying out a road safety operation tackling the issue of drivers not allowing cyclist enough clearance during overtaking. Picture: West Midlands Police

Any driver spotted getting too close will be picked up by fellow officers waiting in marked cars, under a new scheme being launched by Hampshire police.

The initiative has been run at West Midlands Police and is set to be rolled out by officers in the county soon.

In the midlands 130 drivers were pulled over in nine outings. Eight have been prosecuted for careless driving. In some cases, camera evidence was used to prove how close drivers had come to a cyclist.

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A graphic showing the safe distance to pass cyclists

Drivers were offered education at the roadside, but repeat or serious offenders were prosecuted.

The move has been welcomed by cyclists across the area.

Last year it was revealed that Portsmouth was ranked the highest for cycle casualties in four out of the past five years – with the highest levels of casualties per million of the population coming in 2011 with 983. In 2015 there were 888.

Cyclist Marcus Winstanley suffered fractures when he was hit by a car at the junction of West Street and Grove Road, Fareham, on September 15.

A graphic showing the safe distance to pass cyclists

The 32-year-old, of Cosham, said: ‘People are getting away with that sort of thing, I’ve just had a friend knocked off. It’s dangerous, they’ve got no consideration for cyclists because they’re in a vehicle that’s faster than a bike. Their mentality is they’re meant to be on the road.

‘If the police want to do something about it, with people getting knocked off their bike, I’m all for it.’

Hampshire roads policing officers went to a training day with by West Midlands Police on the initiative which a force spokeswoman said was ‘both interesting and informative’.

Chief inspector Henry Parsons, of the Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit, said: ‘The “close pass” initiative looks excellent and we are making preparations to use it across Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police areas.

‘A launch date is anticipated soon.’

Welcoming the launch in Hampshire, Liberal Democrat opposition spokeswoman for transport at the city council, councillor Lynne Stagg, said it could change attitudes.

‘All you need is for a few people to be booked for doing this and the message will get out,’ Cllr Stagg said.

She added: ‘A lot of drivers are really good but you get the ones who think that cyclists should be off the road.

‘I support anything that will change people’s attitudes to learn to drive properly.’