Close pass: Jeremy Vine road tests our inflatable star backpack

jeremy vine tests inflatable star

Jeremy Vine has a made a name for himself on social media by filming examples of poor driving as he cycles to work through London. When he took an interest in our inflatable star backpack, we were more than happy for him to road test it.

You can watch how he got on via Jeremy Vine’s Twitter here

jeremy vine tests ETa inflatable star

Does anyone have a solution to the close pass?

In the absence of segregated infrastructure, you can buy all manner of high-vis tops, flags, stickers and lights designed to remind inattentive drivers about their legal (not to mention moral) responsibility to leave a gap of 1.5m when overtaking people on bikes, but scientific research reveals most make no difference at all.

To highlight the problem – and inspired by our inflatable pop-up zebra crossing – we’ve cobbled together a blow-up backpack designed to dissuade drivers from overtaking too close.

The design is patently ridiculous, but so is the fact cyclists have to tolerate close passes in the first place.

Why do drivers close over take too close?

Nobody knows for certain why some drivers insist on overtaking cyclists too close. However, it’s rarely because they’ve failed to spot the person on the bicycle.

Environmental psychologist Dr Ian Walker conducted research to monitor cars as they overtook cyclists wearing a variety of high-visibility and disruptive pattern clothing.

Ian Walker high-viz

He found that outfits in the study (except the one with the word ‘police’) were treated exactly the same, almost to the centimetre.

It seems likely that, ‘punishment passes’ aside, close overtaking is a product of ineptitude on the part of drivers. It doesn’t help that so few people in Britain now cycle. When we travelled to the Netherlands last year to shoot our documentary about road danger, Stop Killing our Children, we spoke to Vim Bot – national and international policy adviser for the Fietsersbond, the Dutch Cyclists’ Union:

“Foreign observers notice that behaviour of car drivers in the Netherlands is better than in their own country, and certainly than that in Britain – I think it has to do with the fact that cycling is part of everyday culture in the Netherlands. It means that most car drivers will cycle themselves, or they will have cycle as a child, or they will have their children cycling so they know that there are cyclists everywhere.”

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance (covers cargo bikes), breakdown cover  and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.

RadRunner e-bike prize


  1. Jen


    Every day on my commute I get close passed. I am courteous and do give way to drivers where safe and possible, but it doesn’t mean others will. One thing I noticed is when I wear all black waterproofs with yellow hivis and a white and florescent green helmet, it never happens! Friends noticed this too, and we think it might be because at first glance they might think I am police, as my bike is also black

  2. Bryn Gwyndaf Jones



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