South Wales Police has said it is not currently planning to carry out a version of the close pass initiative pioneered by West Midlands Police on the grounds that there isn’t a “major problem” with cyclists being involved in road traffic collisions.
Writing to local cyclists who had asked for the scheme to be introduced, Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said:
“The last fatal road traffic collision within the South Wales Police area took place on February 20, 2014, when a 48-year-old female was struck by a passing lorry on Ocean Way in Cardiff.
“There are no current plans to undertake the Close Pass initiative by South Wales Police because there is a multitude of work ongoing to promote the safety of cyclists, and to make drivers aware of driving appropriately alongside other road users.
“Areas of policy are, however, reviewed on a regular basis and I have therefore forwarded your suggestion to the Chief Officer with responsibility for road safety for their attention.”
According to road accident statistics released today by the Welsh Government, South Wales did however see 231 pedal cyclist casualties in 2015, the most recent year for which there are statistics.
Cardiff cyclist Jonathan Wright expressed his disappointment in the decision, telling Wales Online that the initiative – in which a cycling officer radios ahead to colleagues when subjected to a close pass by a motorist – was about more than just preventing fatalities.
“Something really needs to be done to stop intimidation which is a barrier to people taking up cycling.
“There’s an incredible amount of traffic coming into the city centre. It’s not that all motorists are inconsiderate but when you’re on the roads into and across Cardiff, even if you’re a fairly experienced cyclist like me, you do feel quite scared.”
In a blog in January, West Midlands Police said that its close pass operation had halved poor overtaking offences since it was introduced.
The force was last year presented with an award by the Road Danger Reduction Forum. Its chair, Bob Davis, commented: “We have supported it because it is a harm reduction scheme, because it’s looking at the question of intimidation and seeing it as a problem, which historically the police haven’t done.
“It’s addressing the issue of people feeling intimidated by close passing. It’s associated with people being hit from behind or getting doored because they feel they have to ride in the door zone, so it’s associated with injuries for cyclists, but we also like it because it goes beyond casualty causation.”