Leicestershire Police have launched a campaign aimed at getting motorists to put safety first when they are overtaking cyclists.
The Safe Pass campaign uses a video to demonstrate safe and unsafe overtaking and emphasises the vulnerability of cyclists, whatever their age or ability.
It is endorsed by racing and Olympic gold medal cyclist Chris Boardman, MBE.
Narrated by 14 year old police cadet Keira Pibworth, who was also involved in the filming, the 90 second video has been timed to coincide with the run-up to school holidays, when more cyclists will take to the roads for leisure or because they are cycling to work during better weather.
Safe Pass is available via the force website and social media, leading up to a fortnight’s enforcement in early July, when officers wearing body cameras will covertly film motorists overtaking them as they cycle around various locations in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Motorists who pass too close will be pulled over by other officers, to discuss what was wrong with their overtaking.
Inspector Paul Crewe said:
“Providing motorists with the information they need to make a safe pass is a crucial part of this campaign. Our aim is to make the roads safer for cyclists by educating motorists about the distances they need to leave when overtaking, as well as getting them to think about the risks involved before they start to pull out.
“It appears that most instances of dangerous overtaking are going unreported, which helps to explain why we don’t have an accurate picture of how big the problem is. However, nationally there is a growing awareness of the problem and we have a responsibility to inform and warn motorists of the dangers and potential penalties involved.”
Chris Boardman, who is also British Cycling policy advisor, said:
“It’s great to see Leicestershire Police launch this initiative. Close pass education projects such as this are becoming the norm rather than the exception within police forces across the country, and are extremely useful to explain that cyclists are not just obstacles in the road to get around but people – sons, daughters, mothers and fathers.
“Bad driving affects us all no matter how we choose to travel and this sends a message that people’s safety is being taken seriously.”
Chris Boardman explains how to safely overtake cyclists
The force is currently looking into the most effective way for cyclists to be able to submit film of dangerous overtaking and will publish further details over the next few weeks.
The recommended distance motorists should leave between their vehicle and the cyclist they are overtaking is 1.5 metres – about a car’s width or at least the space between the cyclist (should they fall into the road) and their nearside wheel.
Motorists are also advised to consider the road condition as it will help them to understand why cyclists may appear to ride further away from the curb than expected, for example, uneven grid-covers or dangerous rubbish in the curb.
Motorists who are proven to persistently overtake too closely, or who cause injury or death could face prosecution for dangerous driving.
The maximum penalties are:
- causing death by dangerous driving – custodial sentence of up to 14 years
- causing death by careless driving – custodial sentence of up to five years.