The flamethrower-equipped bicycle above is our own tongue-in-cheek answer to the threat posed by drivers who overtake too close, but what practicable things can be done to protect cyclists?
The Safer Roads Partnership and operational policing teams from both Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police have pioneered Operation Close Pass – a scheme to reduce the number of cyclists killed or injured on their region’s roads. Close passes are intimidating and nationally account for around a third of all threatening incidents between drivers and cyclists.
The initiative, which is now being adopted by other forces, uses plain clothes officers on bikes equipped with front and rear facing cameras. Any vehicle seen to not pass with the recommended distance (1.5 metres) is pulled over and given a talking to.
The results are encouraging with the number of cyclists killed or seriously hurt on the region’s roads reduced by 20 per cent since West Midlands Police launched the operation.
Almost 200 offenders have been pulled over during close-pass operations. In 13 cases the standard of driving was so poor that drivers were prosecuted and around 350 others were fined and received licence points after officers reviewed helmet footage provided by cyclists.
The number of cyclists involved in serious road smashes in the last year has dropped by 20 per cent compared to the previous 12 months.
PC Mark Hodson, from West Midlands Police’s Force Traffic Unit, said of Operation Close Pass: “I am in no doubt the operation has played a big part in that reduction: we regularly speak to cycling groups and their members are telling us that the message is getting through to drivers. They are, on the whole, being more considerate and understand we will prosecute them if they endanger cyclists. To see a fall of 20 per cent in the number of serious collisions involving cyclists is incredible especially against a backdrop of increasing numbers of people cycling on our roads. We’ve seen reports of close-passes halve in the West Midlands since we started the project and it’s great that so many other regions are looking to adopt the approach.”
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Not only are we Britain’s most ethical insurance company, we campaign for sustainable transport. Sometimes that means protesting until a school gets the zebra crossing they’ve been refused, or running 60 roadshows this year to encourage people out of their cars, or fixing bicycles for free. Supporting this work is easy – you simply have to take out cycle insurance with us – cover for you and your bike that just happens to be excellent.
Unlike other insurers we never devalue your bike. And if you ride a carbon bike, rest assured we will never have a cracked frame repaired – we will always replace your bike with a new one. How many other insurers can say that? Find out more
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