Cycling UK has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to help ensure that the close pass initiative launched by West Midlands Police last September is adopted by police forces across the country.
The national cyclists’ charity plans to use the £12,000 it is hoping to raise to buy 50 ‘close pass mats’ for roads policing units throughout the UK.
It says that it has already held discussions with a number of police forces who have welcomed its initiative – and it is already 40 per cent of the way towards its target despite only launching its campaign on the crowdfunding platform this morning.
West Midlands Police already deploys a close pass mat as part of its widely praised and award winning Too Close For Comfort campaign, which has been adopted by a number of other forces.
Plain clothes officers on bikes alert colleagues to drivers who have made close passes, who are then pulled over and, with the help of the mat, shown the minimum safe passing distance when overtaking a cyclist. Some of the drivers were prosecuted for careless driving.
The campaign received nationwide publicity, and the force says that the number of reported close passes fell by 50 per cent in the three months after it was launched.
Cycling UK chief executive, Paul Tuohy, said: “Last September, West Midlands Police showed the UK what a little bit of innovation could do to make a difference to road safety. I’m pleased to say that forces up and down the land took note, and many have shown a real interest in running similar operations.
“It’s well known our police forces have been clobbered with years of cuts from central government. They’re doing a great job given the circumstances, and hearing of the enthusiasm from several forces for West Midlands’ close pass operation, we thought we’d try and give them a little helping hand.”
He added: “Cycling UK launched ‘Too Close for Comfort’ with the specific aim of raising £12,000. With this money, we plan to buy the close pass mats in bulk, which will save close to £28,000, and pass these on for free to our forces.
“If West Midlands’ success is anything to go by, they will help make cycling and our roads safer across the whole UK – that’s surely worth parting with a few bob for!”
PC Steve Hudson of West Midlands Police, one of the officers behind the original initiative, said: “The driving test is the minimum standard, if you don’t drive or ride to that standard every time you get on the road you are part of the problem, be honest with yourselves.
“That’s why we set up our Give Space, Be Safe operation last September – to help remind people of those standards they might have forgotten.
“It’s great to see how Give Space, Be Safe has taken off, and we’re fully behind Cycling UK’s plan to supply every force with a close pass mat – they really can make a difference,” he added.
This video uploaded to YouTube yesterday shows the type of close pass with which any cyclist will be familiar – in this case, the motorist being a bus driver in Nottinghamshire.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.