North Yorkshire Police’s Close Pass campaign, where drivers who fail to keep a safe distance from cyclists while overtaking are given an educational talk and could even be prosecuted, follows a similar scheme in West Yorkshire. Cycling campaigners have also called on South Yorkshire Police to introduce the measures.
Working alongside road safety partners 95 Alive and with the support of Cycling UK, officers involved in North Yorkshire Police’s Operation Spartan want to educate drivers that they should leave at least 1.5 metres of space in order to safely overtake a cyclist.
Launching the campaign at York Sport Village cycling track today, North Yorkshire Police will use a ‘close pass mat’ developed and funded by Cycling UK’s “Too close for comfort” appeal using the Kickstarter website.
The mat clearly depicts the amount of room drivers should use when carrying out an overtaking manoeuvre.
The crowd-sourcing appeal raised £14,500 through donations from Cycling UK members and 970 organisations, enabling Cycling UK to provide every police force in the UK access to a close pass mat, to form part of their own safety campaign.
Traffic Constable Michelle Bergstrand from the North Yorkshire Police Major Collision Investigation Unit said: “Following the success of the Tour de Yorkshire we have seen an increase in the number of cyclists on our roads.
“By the nature of cycling, cyclists are some of the most vulnerable road users and Operation Spartan aims to ensure that drivers are aware of the fact they need to leave sufficient space when passing a cyclist.
“Rule 163 of the Highway Code states at least the width of a car should be left between cyclist and vehicle. However to make it easier for drivers, we are advising this should be 1.5 metres from the cyclist.
“Drivers need to remember that cyclists need enough room so they can safely navigate around uneven road surfaces, drain covers and other debris that finds its way onto our road surfaces.
“We want to ensure that every driver in our region feels confident to overtake a cyclist safely and is aware of the guidance.
The close pass mat is a great way of depicting really easily exactly how much room that is and we are grateful to Cycling UK, and all those who supported the fund raising campaign, for their support.
“370 cyclists were injured on our roads in 2015, with four cyclists sadly losing their lives.
“We believe that everyone should use the roads with care and consideration towards each other and Operation Spartan will take every step necessary to increase the level of safety for all and reduce the number of cyclist who are killed or seriously injured on the roads of North Yorkshire.”
David Murray, Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns and Communications, said: “We’re really pleased to see North Yorkshire Police roll out the first of our close pass mats – particularly as Cycling UK’s spiritual home of Harrogate sits squarely in their patch.
“Over the rest of May, thanks to the generosity of cyclists across the UK, who supported our #toocloseforcomfort kickstarter campaign, we’ll be donating these mats to every force in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as we aim to make it a summer of safe cycling on all our roads.”