North Yorkshire Police has become the first force in the UK to use ‘close pass’mats’ provided by Cycling UK following the charity’s successful crowdfunding drive earlier this year to raise money to have them made. Other forces across the UK will receive their mats by the end of the month.
Building on the award-winning close pass operation launched by West Midlands Police last year, the mats will enable officers to clearly demonstrate to motorists spotted passing too close to cyclists just how much safe passing distance they should give riders.
> Cycling UK hits £12,000 Kickstarter ‘close pass’ target in less than 48 hours
Launched on Tuesday at the cycling track at York Sport Village, the force’s Operation Spartan is being run in partnership with 95 Alive and Cycling UK, whose ‘Too Close for Comfort’ crowdfunding appeal saw almost 970 people and organisations donate a total of £14,500 to fund the mats.
Traffic Constable Michelle Bergstrand from North Yorkshire Police’s Major Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Following the success of the Tour de Yorkshire we have seen an increase in the number of cyclists on our roads.
“By the nature of cycling, cyclists are some of the most vulnerable road users and Operation Spartan aims to ensure that drivers are aware of the fact they need to leave sufficient space when passing a cyclist.
“Rule 163 of the Highway Code states at least the width of a car should be left between cyclist and vehicle. However, to make it easier for drivers, we are advising this should be 1.5m from the cyclist.
“Drivers need to remember that cyclists need enough room so they can safely navigate around uneven road surfaces, drain covers and other debris that finds its way onto our road surfaces.
“We want to ensure that every driver in our region feels confident to overtake a cyclist safely and is aware of the guidance," she continued.
“The close pass mat is a great way of depicting really easily exactly how much room that is and we are grateful to Cycling UK, and all those who supported the fundraising campaign, for their support,” she added.
“370 cyclists were injured on our roads in 2015, with four cyclists sadly losing their lives.
“We believe that everyone should use the roads with care and consideration towards each other and Operation Spartan will take every step necessary to increase the level of safety for all and reduce the number of cyclist who are killed or seriously injured on the roads of North Yorkshire.”
As we reported on road.cc earlier this month, West Yorkshire Police have also chosen to follow West Midlands Police in introducing a close pass initiative, initially targeting motorists in Leeds.
However, South Yorkshire Police has yet to implement such a campaign, leading dozens of organisations including Cycling UK, British Cycling and Cycle Sheffield, among others, to write an open letter to the force urging it to take action.
David Murray, head of campaigns and communications at Cycling UK, commented: “We’re really pleased to see North Yorkshire Police roll out the first of our close pass mats – particularly as Cycling UK’s spiritual home of Harrogate sits squarely in their patch.
“Over the rest of May, thanks to the generosity of cyclists across the UK, who supported our #toocloseforcomfort Kickstarter campaign, we’ll be donating these mats to every force in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as we aim to make it a summer of safe cycling on all our roads,” he added.
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.