Plain clothed police officers have taken to their bikes in Wakefield this week in a bid to protect cyclists and other road uers from dangerous drivers.
The initiative, piloted under the name Safe Pass, now known as Close Pass, uses plain clothed officers on 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.
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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.
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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.
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“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.
Wakefield District have been the first area outside of Leeds to commence using the initiative, with a focused week of action across all its Neighbourhood areas.
Insp Martin Moizer of the 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.
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“Cycling is a great and cheap form of exercise and transport and we want to help people cycle safely on Wakefield’s roads.
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.
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.
Most frequently, incidents where cyclists are injured in a collision with a vehicle are on urban roads with junctions. Most often during the working week, Monday - Friday during the regular commute to work, with the afternoon/ evening commute seeing the numbers being twice as high.
Cars are involved in 87% of the collisions with cyclists and 75% of those recorded the car driver being at fault.