Thames Valley Police seem to have a new requirement for assessing close pass submissions by cyclists: the bike needs to be visible in the footage, or else they won't be able to judge if the pass by the driver is a legitimate one or not.
The above close pass was made on cyclist Andrew Edwards on Hambridge Road in Newbury on 13th January this year. However, when he submitted the footage to Thames Valley Police (TVP), the force emailed him saying, "You need to show some part of your bike to assist us with calculating the distance of the vehicle and you in relation to it being close."
"The easiest way for us to prove this is have a part of your handle bar showing and then we are able to make a decision on the course of action, if we could see your bike I would have been happy to offer the driver a driver education course.
"But as I couldn’t I asked two court presentation officers who prosecute these sort of offences in court and also my senior manager, all were in agreement that as there was no reference to your bike we would not offer a course as this is only an alternative to a court case, therefore on this occasion I will send the driver a written warning.
"You may wish to view the camera when it on your bike to make sure there is a point of your bike showing, if you wish to alter the camera position and send me a screen shot I would be happy to see if it helps our decisions in future."
Obviously, Andrew wasn't the most chuffed at this response. He tried to point out the discrepency in TVP's threshold of taking action by using another submission of his which didn't have his bike visible, as a reference.
Now, this near miss (we know, two NMotDs in one) was recorded by Andrew on 3rd July last year on Kiln Hill in Newbury. He told road.cc: "I got a letter just after the New Year saying that I had reported it in good time, they had sent out a NIP within the necessary time period.
"But then they had failed to proceed with it before it was too late so the driver could not be sent on a training course or have the case go to court so they got a warning letter."
When he pointed this incident to TVP and accused them of being "inconsistent and incompetent", they were swift to reject the matter out of hand, saying: "Going forward if we cannot see any part of the reporting parties bike we will now not proceed with these cases. This will make us more consistent going forward."
Andrew said: "The police said they couldn’t tell if it was a close pass as no part of my bike was visible and my camera could be zoomed 10 metres up the road. The fact that my hand comes into shot doesn't matter, maybe they think I have 10m long arms!"
road.cc reached out to Thames Valley Police for a comment about them requiring a part of a bike being visible in the footage, to which they sent us the following reply:
When determining what action to take on close passes against cyclists, we use the Full Code Test contained within the Code for Crown Prosecutors. This has two stages and both stages of the Full Code Test must be met before we can take action:
1. We must have sufficient reliable evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.
2. Any action we take must be in the public interest.
When considering whether a matter meets the public interest test, a number of factors are taken into consideration. One of those factors is whether or not prosecution is a proportionate response to the offending behaviour.
In determining what the most appropriate response may be, we have a range of outcomes we can apply ranging from no further action to a written warning letter, a driver education course and prosecution. Each case is considered on its’ own merits.
In this case, a written warning letter was delivered.
On the matter of close passes we have been conducting an operation in Oxford City Centre over the last two days (31/01 and 01/02) where we have been stopping anyone who was seen to be driving too close to cyclists or in a dangerous manner. In addition to this, we worked alongside Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue to hand out bike lights in the City to cyclists who were not displaying them in the dark evenings. We hope to put out a video regarding our operation over the next week alongside our results.
Over the years road.cc has reported on literally hundreds of close passes and near misses involving badly driven vehicles from every corner of the country – so many, in fact, that we’ve decided to turn the phenomenon into a regular feature on the site. One day hopefully we will run out of close passes and near misses to report on, but until that happy day arrives, Near Miss of the Day will keep rolling on.
If you’ve caught on camera a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind with another road user that you’d like to share with the wider cycling community please send it to us at info [at] road.cc or send us a message via the road.cc Facebook page.
If the video is on YouTube, please send us a link, if not we can add any footage you supply to our YouTube channel as an unlisted video (so it won't show up on searches).
Please also let us know whether you contacted the police and if so what their reaction was, as well as the reaction of the vehicle operator if it was a bus, lorry or van with company markings etc.
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.