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Scheme being piloted in Leeds, rollout to rest of county could follow

West Yorkshire Police are the latest force in the country to adopt the widely praised close pass initiative introduced last year by West Midlands Police and since taken up by roads policing units nationwide.

The scheme is being introduced on popular cycle commuting in Leeds, says the force, and besides targeting motorists who fail to give people on bikes sufficient space when overtaking will also focus on distracted drivers and those who do not give way at junctions.

As elsewhere, plain clothes police officers will identify offending motorists, who will be shown safe passing distances with the help of a specially designed mat. Drivers deemed as having failed to look will be subjected to an eyesight test at the roadside.

In some cases, including those where the driver has declined the offer of advice or where the offence is sufficiently serious to warrant further action, they may be referred for prosecution.

Implementation of the initiative comes after 2016 saw the highest death toll among cyclists on West Yorkshire’s roads for more than a quarter of a century, with seven riders losing their lives there in road traffic collisions last year.

In the period 2011-15, more than 6,000 cyclists were injured on the county’s roads, 1,210 of those seriously.

West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom commented: “On average, we record around three incidents every day where a cyclist and vehicle have been in a collision on the county’s roads.

“Frighteningly, seven people lost their lives on our roads in 2016, which is a number we urgently want to address and reduce.

“This initiative isn’t about picking on or penalising motorists, it is about making sure our roads are safer for everyone.

“Following the success of the Tour de Yorkshire we support our partners in wanting to get more people to feel confident in cycling in the county by making sure the roads are safer for cyclists and all vulnerable road users.”

> Video: Van driver forces cyclist off road; QC offers help to sue

After the initial trial in Leeds, the plan is to roll the initiative out across the county.

Sergeant Gary Roper of the West Yorkshire Police Roads Policing Support Unit said: “This initiative has been successfully used by our colleagues in West Midlands Police and has increased driver awareness and alertness in identifying cyclists and other vulnerable road users, giving them safe sufficient space when overtaking and taking more care to look for them at junctions.

“Analysis of road traffic collisions involving cyclists in West Yorkshire identifies that failing to look at junctions is the most common cause for drivers at fault and this failure to look can have devastating consequences,” he added.

“The main aim of this initiative is to increase driver observations to include cyclists and all vulnerable road users thereby reducing the risk of collisions as a result of a failure to look.”

West Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: "Keeping our roads safe for everyone is a key priority for me and our partners so I am very pleased to see this scheme coming to West Yorkshire.

"We are all aware of the potentially life changing consequences of dangerous and careless driving yet some road users find it all too easy to forget once they get behind the wheel.

"Following the initial launch of this close passing initiative by West Midlands Police last year I spoke to West Yorkshire Police to see if it was something we could pilot in our county.

“I was also contacted by numerous members of the public with support for the scheme so I will be keeping a close eye on the results with a view to seeing if this is something that could benefit other areas in West Yorkshire."

In February, Dr Robert Davis, chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum, said that enforcing the law against drivers who pass cyclists too closely could reduce rider casualties by up to a third.

> Close pass policing could stop almost a third of crashes that kill or seriously injure cyclists

And after Police Scotland brought in a similar scheme in Edinburgh last month, they said that less than a fortnight later that it was already changing the ways motorists drove when sharing the road with cyclists.

> Pilot close pass initiative in Scotland already changing driver behaviour

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

12 comments

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Morat [264 posts] 3 months ago
6 likes

Another victory for common sense - and it's getting closer to North Yorkshire too  1

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Ramuz [292 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

I welcome this initiative and thank WYP.

I would however say that on the route on which the scheme will be tiraled (A660 City Centre - Headingley) the main problem is people pulling out from side roads into the path of cyclists (with or without looking). Maybe the police officer on a bike could look for that offence too.

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Housecathst [592 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
Ramuz wrote:

I welcome this initiative and thank WYP.

I would however say that on the route on which the scheme will be tiraled (A660 City Centre - Headingley) the main problem is people pulling out from side roads into the path of cyclists (with or without looking). Maybe the police officer on a bike could look for that offence too.

just read the second paragraph 

'will also focus on distracted drivers and those who do not give way at junctions.'

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ChairRDRF [357 posts] 3 months ago
11 likes

"In February, Dr Robert Davis, chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum, said that enforcing the law against drivers who pass cyclists too closely could reduce rider casualties by up to a third."

Just to be precise (pedantic?) that's not quite what I said/wrote.

About a quarter to a third of collisions  in London over three years involved  certain manoeuvres which lead to cyclists being Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI). These manoeuvres were:

1. Vehicle hitting cyclist from the side.

2. Vehicle hitting cyclist from behind.

3. Dooring.

4. Vehicle overtaking cyclist and hitting cyclist when turning left (left-hooking).

Dooring is related to cyclists riding too close to parked/stationary cars often because they are afraid of cycling out of the door zone - no doubt partly because of the experience of being closely passed. We don't know how much this would be changed by succesful close passing policing.

Also, if drivers have an increased awareness of where cyclists are entitled and/or likely to be, this should also affect their chances of avoiding another main contributory manoeuvre: hitting cyclists at a junction when turning right from the opposite direction.

So close passing was related (either directly or indirectly)  to 25 - 40% of the manoeuvres - depending on which year is chosen and whether turning right across is included -  preceding collisions leading to cyclist KSIs over the period of team studied in London.

It's also the case that if potential cyclists feel safer because close passing becomes less frequent, then more people might cycle. That could lead to  a "Safety in Numbers" effect which reduces the casualty rate (although not neccesarily the overall number of casualties).

So if close passing policing has a positive effect cyclist casualty rates should come down. But that's  a bit  different from the quote attributed to me. You have to be careful about giving pecise numbers  of casualty rate reduction to any intervention, however desirable it is.

I'll be speaking about close passing policing and related policing affecing cyclists at the Bradford Cycle City Active City conference this week.

Dr. Robert Davis, Chair, Road Danger Reduction Forum

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Edgeley [464 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

I wish Road Cc would stop using the picture of the rozzer in high viz.  That is from the Cambridgeshire effort, much criticised on here, in which you would have to be a spectacularly stupid driver to be picked up. 

 

The marvellous WM Mids initiative involves using plain clothes police cyclists.   And catches and educates people who think it is ok to close pass when they can't see a high viz policeman.

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Man of Lard [335 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
Edgeley wrote:

I wish Road Cc would stop using the picture of the rozzer in high viz.  That is from the Cambridgeshire effort, much criticised on here, in which you would have to be a spectacularly stupid driver to be picked up. 

 

The marvellous WM Mids initiative involves using plain clothes police cyclists.   And catches and educates people who think it is ok to close pass when they can't see a high viz policeman.

The 'rozzer' doing the pull & chat on the mat is pretty much always going to be wearing hi vis (as in the picture I'm seeing on this article) - the one on the bike (again as in the picture) will be in plain/civvy garb. At least that's how the operation in Edinburgh is working.

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jigr69 [7 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

Everyone should move to Northamptonshire, since according to the Police there isn't any issues with close passes in this country. The data that they have does not warrant a close pass initiative being introduced, although they aren't actually collating data on close passes!

 

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Yorkshire wallet [1254 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

West Yorkshire police would do better putting resources into taking some  of its uninsured, unlicensed drivers off the road. 8% of cars in Bradford come into this category, that's a massive number of twats that need taking off the roads.

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muhasib [16 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

West Yorkshire police would do better putting resources into taking some  of its uninsured, unlicensed drivers off the road. 8% of cars in Bradford come into this category, that's a massive number of twats that need taking off the roads.

At the same time Bradford is a national hotspot of 'cash for crash' so even the insured drivers are dangerous.

If it's the Otley Road (A660) being patrolled then they are guaranteed close passes all the way from Hyde Park lights to Shaw Lane Lights as it's narrow and congested. I used to run from West Park to Leeds City Centre just about 4 miles as my commute on this road's pavement and the traffic was slower than I was and I wasn't going at Olympic pace either.

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armb [111 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Edgeley wrote:

I wish Road Cc would stop using the picture of the rozzer in high viz.  That is from the Cambridgeshire effort, much criticised on here, in which you would have to be a spectacularly stupid driver to be picked up. 

 

I don't think it is.

The photo credit on http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/drivers-failing-leave-safe-distance-12735702 says "West Midlands Police". They probably couldn't find a Cambridgeshire police officer actually doing anything more relevant than issuing a press release.

And if you use Google Image Search to find a larger version of the photo, not only does it says "Best guess for this image: West Midlands Police", there's a sign saying "Ask Italian" on the far side of the road, next to Boots. Ask Italian (a restaurant chain) don't list Cambridge on their locations page, nor Peterborough.

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Simon_MacMichael [2494 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

The pic is from West Midlands Police. It says so on the caption, no Google Image searches required  3

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waldner71 [51 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
muhasib wrote:

If it's the Otley Road (A660) being patrolled then they are guaranteed close passes all the way from Hyde Park lights to Shaw Lane Lights as it's narrow and congested. I used to run from West Park to Leeds City Centre just about 4 miles as my commute on this road's pavement and the traffic was slower than I was and I wasn't going at Olympic pace either.[/quote]

Looks like the close pass initiative started on 3rd May 

https://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/news/keeping-vulnerable-road-users-s...

Can't see anywhere confirming the A660 is one of the roads, although why would they advertise this? Would have thought better to keep it under wraps... the element of surprise..

In addition if it is the A660, would have thought it would be from Lawnswood Cemetery onwards where the bike Lane ends, it's mostly bus/bike lane upto there apart from the Arndale Centre. I tend to get through without  issue, although the traffic is very busy during rush hour