Police Scotland have this week launched their own version of the close pass operation pioneered by West Midlands Police. The straightforwardly-named Operation Close Pass will see Edinburgh drivers pulled over for passing an unmarked police cyclist too closely and there are plans to later roll out the scheme across Scotland.
PC Dominic Doyle, of Police Scotland, told the Scotsman: "A lot of drivers see a person on a bicycle riding on the road in a cycle lane and don't consider that passing them closely puts all road users in danger. It could constitute careless or even dangerous driving and you would fail your driving test for that.”
The cycling officer will be capturing footage via a bike-mounted camera should any action need to be taken.
— DumfriesGPolice (@DumfriesGPolice) April 24, 2017
Doyle said that drivers would be shown how closely they passed the unmarked officer on specially-designed mat funded by Cycling Scotland with further support from Road Safety Scotland.
"You should allow at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car when passing a person on a bicycle, giving consideration to the maximum speed limit and time and distance available to you."
In a post on its Facebook page, Edinburgh Police Division reported that 13 drivers were spoken to on the first day of the operation.
That post also says that if you wish to report your own close pass encounters, footage needs to be sent to police as soon as possible following the incident. “A notice of intended prosecution would have to be served on any potential accused within 14 days of the offence. This allows reasonable time to draw up and process the paperwork.”
Members of the public are also discouraged from posting the footage to social media, “as this may compromise court proceedings.”
Martin McDonnell, of cycling campaign group Spokes, said: “We have seen what’s happened in the West Midlands and elsewhere round the country and it seems to be having a real impact on driver behaviour and making people feel safer being out on the road on their bikes.
“There have been some studies done that if somebody does close passes they are more likely to be involved in a collision subsequently so it’s better to catch it early on in the process rather than later.”