Dundee Police say they cannot justify rolling out a close pass operation because, “there aren’t drivers driving close enough to cause the cyclists to have an accident.” Tayside commander Chief Superintendent Andrew Todd claimed that targeting cyclists would have more benefit.
Yesterday we reported how councillors in Stirling had responded to a police close pass operation similar to that pioneered by West Midlands Police by calling for more enforcement on ‘inconsiderate’ cyclists.
In Dundee, the roles are reversed with councillors calling for police to tackle dangerous overtaking and police refusing to carry out a close pass operation.
Close pass operations typically involve plain-clothes officers on bikes equipped with cameras radioing ahead to alert uniformed colleagues of close passes or other instances of poor driving.
The Evening Telegraph reports that when the measure was proposed by Councillor Mark Flynn, Chief Superintendent Todd replied: “There aren’t drivers driving close enough to cause the cyclists to have an accident. Targeting (cyclists) will have more benefit than targeting drivers that aren’t causing any accidents – such as those running red lights. But it is being kept under review.”
Flynn, however, does believe that close passes are a problem. “Speaking to people over the years, many are put off cycling by the fear of vehicles overtaking too closely. I believe Operation Close Pass [would] help to achieve a more cycle friendly environment.”
The Dundee Cycling Forum added: “Despite dangerously close passes being a problem in Dundee, police in Tayside have steadfastly refused to take up Close Pass.
“There is no evidence for police to say that [it isn’t an issue]. The number one reason people do not cycle is fear of traffic. It is not an exaggeration to say that close passes – especially those by large trucks or buses – are truly terrifying.
“We would welcome the opportunity to scrutinise the police’s evidence.”
Todd responded: “We do record information about collisions and the causation factors and it currently remains that there is insufficient evidence to support claims that close passes of cyclists in Dundee result in collisions.”
Instances of close passes in Dundee are certainly not unheard of. In 2017 one cyclist suffered a close pass on a blind bend delivered by an officer at the wheel of a police van.
“I heard an engine approaching from behind but didn’t expect anyone to pass on a blind corner,” said David Evans. “Seeing it was the police was surprising. There was all manner of silly driving going on – overtaking on a blind corner, a close pass and into oncoming traffic. It was ill judged.”
A police spokesperson said the force would “look into the matter and establish the circumstances”.
It was later reported that an enquiry had been carried out and the force said that the officer responsible had been identified and given “appropriate advice.”