Operation Close Pass
Police in Cheltenham will be on the look out for motorists who drive too close to cyclists during a road safety operation in the town this week.
Operation Close Pass, an initiative originally launched by West Midlands Police, involves plain clothes police officers on bikes who will identify the drivers who do not leave enough room as they overtake.
The drivers will then be stopped by uniformed officers and offered roadside education as an alternative to prosecution.
The is the second Close Pass operation to be led by the Tri-Force roads policing unit, which includes Gloucestershire Constabulary, Wiltshire Constabulary and Avon and Somerset Police. The first ran in Bristol and Bath in June.
The Cheltenham operation will run on Thursday 27 July.
It aims to reduce the number of collisions between cars and bikes in Gloucestershire, 22 per cent of which are believed to happen during overtaking.
Superintendent Charlie Laporte said:
“We are delighted to be involved in this popular police operation which is being carried out by other forces up and down the country.
“By sending plain clothes officers out on bikes, and pulling over drivers who passed too close, West Midlands Police began an education and enforcement action which changed driver behaviour and saw a reduction in reported close passes by up to 50 per cent.
“We believe this is an efficient and effective way to reduce driving without due care offences and to get drivers to change their attitude to other road users, in particular cyclists.
“When drivers overtake cyclists they should allow as much space as when they overtake cars, 1.5 metres or approximately a car door width. Failure to do this puts cyclists at risk and the driver could face prosecution.”
Maria Boon, head of the Gloucestershire road safety team, said: Close Pass works. It works by sending a clear message warning drivers that failing to give enough space when passing another road user could mean being prosecuted for driving without due care and attention. The Gloucestershire road safety team is delighted to be supporting this excellent police operation.”
Allan Foulds, head teacher at Bournside School where the roadside education element of the campaign will take place, said: “Bournside is delighted to be working in support of the Gloucestershire County Council road safety team and the police.
“Educating road users about risks is a powerful way of improving road safety and the behaviour of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.”
West Midlands Police has recently had its first conviction from Operation Close Pass.
A 60-year-old man was found guilty of driving without due care and attention after dangerously overtaking a cyclist. He was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £1,038 after rejecting a £100 fine and asking for a court trial. Full story here.
For more information on Close Pass have a look at our main campaign page here.