Close Pass launches to protect West Yorkshire cyclists (5 June 2018)

A project to protect cyclists is being rolled out across West Yorkshire this week- and has hit the road first in Wakefield.

In May 2017, West Yorkshire Police piloted an initiative to help protect cyclists and other road users.

The initiative, piloted under the name Safe Pass, now known as Close Pass, uses plain clothed officers on proactive patrol identifying motorists who pass too close for comfort, fail to give way at junctions or are distracted from having a proper view whilst driving.

Offenders who pass too close to the cyclist will be offered an on-the-spot educational input on safe overtaking using a specially designed floor mat.

Anyone who declines to take part in the tutorial, or who is deemed to have committed a particularly hazardous overtaking manoeuvre could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.

Rules of the road stipulate motorists should give cyclists and other vulnerable road users such those on horseback at least the same space as vehicles when overtaking.

A student participating in a DVSA practical driving test would fail the assessment if they performed an overtake manoeuvre without giving sufficient space (approximately 1.5 metres) and the DVSA test can be regarded as the required standard of a careful and competent driver when considering prosecution.

In its first day operating in the South East of Wakefield District yesterday, Close Pass officers stopped four cars and gave a penalty notice to one driver who refused an educational input.

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner said: "I am very pleased to be able to say that the close pass initiative is being rolled out across West Yorkshire since I was first contacted about this last year and pilot work was undertaken. Tackling road safety issues requires a mix of education and enforcement and this operation is a great example of the two coming together.

"Road safety in the main boils down to respecting other road users, in this case, giving cyclists a safe amount of room when passing. It's a simple message, and it only takes simple actions to avoid causing harm and avoid unnecessary collisions.

Inspector Martin Moizer of the Wakefield North East and Rural NPT, said: "We are very pleased to be launching Close Pass in 2018 in Wakefield and are carrying out Close Pass plain clothes patrols in all parts of the Wakefield District.

"Officers are aware of concerns from residents in the city centre regarding cyclists using pavements rather than the roads, and this is an issue we are also planning to address with some targeted educational work.

"Pedestrian safety is also a concern and we do encourage cyclists to use cycle lanes or to dismount and walk on the footpath in areas where no cycle lanes are available.

"Cycling is a great and cheap form of exercise and transport and we want to help people cycle safely on Wakefield's roads."

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Kingsman said; "On average, we record around three incidents every day where a cyclist and vehicle have been in a collision on the county's roads. Frighteningly, seven people lost their lives on our roads in 2016, which is a number we urgently want to address and reduce.

"This initiative isn't about picking on or penalising motorists, it is about making sure our roads are safer for everyone. Following the success of the fourth Tour de Yorkshire over the bank holiday weekend we support our partners in wanting to get more people to feel confident in cycling in the county by making sure the roads are safer for cyclists and all vulnerable road users."

Over 6000 cyclist casualties were recorded by the Force between 2011 and 2015. 1210 of those were classed as serious, and 20 of those were fatal. In 2016 7 cyclists were killed across West Yorkshire which is the highest number since 1990.

Police Sergeant Gary Roper of the West Yorkshire Police Roads Policing Support Unit said; "Last year's pilot in Leeds was a success and it is hoped that the delivery of the scheme across West Yorkshire will increase increased driver awareness and alertness in identifying cyclists and other vulnerable road users, giving them safe sufficient space when overtaking and taking more care to look for them at junctions.

"Analysis of Road Traffic Collisions involving cyclists in West Yorkshire identifies that failing to look at junctions is the most common cause for drivers at fault and this failure to look can have devastating consequences. The main aim of this initiative is to increase driver observations to include cyclists and all vulnerable road users thereby reducing the risk of collisions as a result of a failure to look."

Drivers who are identified as failing to look during the initiative will be subject to an eyesight test and the option of a roadside educational input to raise awareness of the issues presented to cyclists (such as the primary and secondary riding positions).

If the driver passes the eyesight test and agrees to participate in the educational input then no further action will be taken in relation to prosecution. If a driver is identified committing a more serious offence, such as driving whilst using a mobile phone or dangerous driving then they may be subject to prosecution.

The initiative is not just limited to motorists, cyclists who commit offences such as riding on the footpath, failing to stop for red traffic signals or cycling without lights during the hours of darkness will be stopped and dealt with accordingly.

Sergeant Roper added; "This is not about targeting motorists but trying to improve driver observations, understanding and behaviour in relation to vulnerable road users who share the road and thereby make the roads safer for all. It is anticipated that the majority of motorists stopped as a result of this initiative will receive the educational input and receive no further sanction."


© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019