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Police claim they don’t carry out close pass operations on A roads due to “safety element involved towards police cyclists” — after cyclist complains of dangerous driving and “20 closes passes in a day” on national cycle route

The response came after a cyclist contacted them to alert about dangerous driving on an A road — that is also part of the National Cycle Network — where he was close passed by several drivers

Police Scotland have said that while they run close pass operations with officers riding bikes, they don’t “tend to operate” on A roads — where many people ride their bikes regularly — as there’s a “safety element involved towards police cyclists”, after a cyclist, who was close passed by drivers several times, raised it with the police and asked them what do they intend on doing about the dangerous driving on such roads.

Michael Harrison, a club cyclist and member of the Montvelo CC, had emailed Police Scotland after having an “especially bad ride” between Inverbervie and Montrose on the A92, that is also a part of the National Cycle Network, with a driver close passing him as another was coming from the other direction, forcing the oncoming driver to brake heavily.

He told road.cc: “I regularly ride that section of the road and often get close passes. This time, I put in a complaint on the Police Scotland website about the standard of driving and asked for action as I had an especially bad ride involving 10-20 close passes.”

In his enquiry to the police, he asked what action were the police planning to take to protect vulnerable road users from motorists who don’t understand or care about basic road rules, adding: “Could you not run an operation to catch these people breaking the law? I would expect you would find dozens of motorists in a single day breaking the law and putting cyclist life a risk.”

> Over a quarter of motorists in Scotland don’t know driving dangerously around cyclists could lead to driving ban or prison sentence – and over 50% say more cameras would “change their behaviour”, new survey finds

Police Scotland responded, saying: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We do run Operation Close Pass between April and September, which is designed to educate drivers about the safe passing of cyclists on the road.

“We don’t tend to operate these on open A class roads due to the safety element involved towards the police cyclists. We do however have the A92 as a priority route and have dedicated patrols on it several times a week. The Camera Safety Unit also operate on this road.

“I will make the local Road Policing officers aware of your concerns and ask them to pay particular attention to the area/ driver behaviour towards cyclists when they are on patrol.”

Harrison wrote back to the force pointing out that the stretch of A92 between Dundee and Aberdeen was part of Sustrans’ National Cycle Network, and that their policies up to now had been “ineffectual”, however, he hasn’t received any response from them.

He told road.cc: “Apparently the road is too dangerous to police properly to protect vulnerable road users, but I’m sure they will attend to scrape you off the road when you’re hit by a motorist!”

Close pass operation (Police Scotland Greater Glasgow)

> "If police don't get it, it's no surprise that many others don't": Cyclist close pass operation questioned as chief inspector from another force points out problems with "overtaking distance" mats used

In March, Scotland’s police force came under scrutiny for not having a portal where cyclists can submit their close passes — unlike England and Wales where cyclists and other road users can submit video evidence of road traffic offences via Operation Snap and other police reporting portals, with road.cc reader Stewart criticising Police Scotland for making him go through a much lengthier process of providing evidence after suffering a dangerous near miss.

While a Digital Evidence Sharing Capability is being piloted in Dundee ahead of the expected national roll-out next year, it is not believed to be as strong or functional an option as the cancelled National Dashcam Safety Portal.

Just last month, Police Scotland was once again the subject of discussion after they shared pictures of a close pass operation, prompting numerous issues to be raised by cyclists and even a chief inspector from another force, with one commenter calling it “the worst operation close pass picture I have ever seen”.

The much-criticised image shared on social media showed a community officer on a bike, positioned on a close pass mat showing that he was 0.75m away from the edge. However, while this would normally denote being 75cm from the kerb, in this case it meant being 75cm from the door zone of a row of parked cars.

Chief Inspector Smith, from Sheffield's Response unit, replied to say that despite having one of the close pass mats, they do not use it due to these issues. He explained that they were made before the Highway Code changes, but added concerns that "it suggests that cyclists need to be 75cm from the kerb which isn't a requirement" and "it doesn't make allowances for handlebar width".

In the same month, new research commissioned by Cycling Scotland found that more than one in four people in Scotland are unaware that driving carelessly or dangerously around cyclists could result in a driving ban or prison sentence.

Meanwhile, as part of another Cycling Scotland survey, 58 per cent of motorists admitted that knowing their driving was being captured on camera would make them change their behaviour around people on bikes.

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.

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30 comments

Avatar
Disgusted of Tu... | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

"They" may say it's safer just to stay at home, maybe let the police work from home and if we all stayed in our tiny little boxes, there wouldn't be any crime or bad driving to respond to anyway???

No doubt "they" can't wait for the next "pandemic."

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bikes | 3 weeks ago
1 like

What a catch 22! A road is either too dangerous to police, or it's safe enough not to need to bother doing anything.

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hawkinspeter replied to bikes | 3 weeks ago
4 likes
bikes wrote:

What a catch 22! A road is either too dangerous to police, or it's safe enough not to need to bother doing anything.

Seems to me that if the traffic is too dangerous to police, then that road needs to be closed to motor traffic.

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Sriracha | 3 weeks ago
9 likes

So the Police won't police because it's too dangerous? Then they owe it to those cyclists who do run the risks in their stead to prosecute every valid case they submit.

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Cayo | 3 weeks ago
7 likes

Well, I have sympathy for the police cyclists deemed at risk in this scenario, but then I have sympathy for any cyclist being put at risk by motorists.

Police officers are at least paid to take risks (whether enough is open to debate), and it's part of their duties to make the roads as safe as possible. To actually state that the programme specifically designed for this aspect of road safety can't be carried out because the behaviour on these roads is too dangerous even for them speaks volumes.

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mitsky | 3 weeks ago
5 likes

From a financial/economic perspective, isn't dealing with dangerous drivers BEFORE they injure/kill cheaper than dealing with the aftermath of dangerous driving?

If the police are openly admitting that drivers are being too dangerous for the police to do an EVERY DAY ACTIVITY ... shouldn't politicians be allocating resources appropriately to enable the police to take those drivers off the roads?

Driving is a priviledge, not a right.

But no, lets throw away tax payer money... 

Sorry, I'm just thinking over-optimistically.

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wtjs replied to mitsky | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

 isn't dealing with dangerous drivers BEFORE they injure/kill cheaper than dealing with the aftermath of dangerous driving?

It isn't, according to PoliceThink! KSI'd cyclist = motorist completely unhurt and able to give the only story available, which would be generally accepted by the police, who will already have 'insufficient evidence' written down on the form while they're driving to the site of the 'cyclist collided with vehicle' incident- which we know is generally in truth 'motorist slammed into, and KSI'd cyclist'. The only thing the police consider is the 'costs to the police' in terms of 'wasted time and effort' which are reduced to nothing by bashing out the 'insufficient evidence' and the monumentally insincere 'our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased' as quickly as possible. This 'it's too dangerous to send police officers out on close pass operations except on quiet roads with no traffic' dodge was first heard years ago from a senior officer on the Worcester force, and is clearly now being adopted by more forces anxious to get rid of as many troublesome cyclists as possible

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David9694 | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

 A roads a no go area. 

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dubwise | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Lost for words, this just sums up polis Scotland.

Uninterested in doing their job.

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MattieKempy replied to dubwise | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Without having experience of Police Scotland, that would appear to be a bit harsh in the context of drastically-reduced police numbers and resources over the past 14 years. However it is highly revealing that they consider the road to be too dangerous for police cyclists. That would suggest a different approach to policing that road is required.

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mdavidford replied to MattieKempy | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Or close those roads until they can be made safe...

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Backladder replied to mdavidford | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

mdavidford wrote:

Or close those roads to motorists until they can be made safe...

FTFY

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mdavidford replied to Backladder | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Backladder wrote:

mdavidford wrote:

Or close those roads to motorists until they can be made safe...

FTFY

Well, strictly speaking, they haven't specified that they're dangerous because of motor traffic - maybe they're afraid of the gangs of vicious marauding beavers.

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chrisonabike replied to mdavidford | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Bloody bullying rodents with their big tails...

Over the last few days I learned that road safety can be fixed by the police just locking all the bad drivers up (forever?) until driving improves.  (And everybody believes that despite all the cars going past 20mph faster nobody will make a mistake).  But I guess in this case we're all stuck.

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dubwise replied to MattieKempy | 3 weeks ago
1 like

Mattie, I'm afraid it isn't harsh in the slightest.

There are numerous examples out there of polis Scotland's attitude not only to cyclists but to large swathes of the population.

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giff77 replied to dubwise | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

I personally think that the rot set in when all the forces were combined to create Polis Scotland. 

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mdavidford replied to giff77 | 3 weeks ago
5 likes

giff77 wrote:

I personally think that the rot set in when all the forces were combined to create Polis Scotland. 

For me, it was when Hamish Macbeth quit the force.

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giff77 replied to mdavidford | 3 weeks ago
1 like

Ahhh,  good old Hamish. The epitome of chucter policing vs city. 

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giff77 replied to MattieKempy | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

They've previous in many areas requiring their involvement or action. A lot of the contributors on the forum who are Scottish or live in Scotland have mixed experiences with the polis and unfortunately a lot of folk's perceptions are quite jaded. 

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mctrials23 | 3 weeks ago
9 likes

I might be making this up as my memory is quite shocking but wasn't it police scotland that basically said they can't persue dangerous driving from dashcams because they would spend all their time dishing out fines. 

Reality truly has killed satire. This sort of crap genuinely could be in a blackadder series. 

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Safety | 3 weeks ago
11 likes

The old adage of work smarter not harder is never more appropriate at times of resource shortage that the police Scotland undoubtedly suffer. So why not accept the free help of an army road users (it wouldn't just be cyclists) providing legally acceptable evidence via an already existing portal to allow you to take appropriate action?
But the dunderheids running the organisation can't see this.
Plus the not invented here approach really ticks me off. Why do we need a custom made system?

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FionaJJ replied to Safety | 3 weeks ago
1 like

I assume the former is because too many of those in decision-making roles in Police Scotland, and their political equivalents don't actually want to crack down on the kind of bad driving that they think is OK. Most likely because they want to reserve the right to do bad overtaking themselves.

The point about having to reinvent the wheel so it's more Scottishy and we can pretend we invented something original, is unfortunately far too true, and isn't just a problem for the police and road safety. It was the root of the very expensive problems with the bottle return scheme, and so much more. It may be a culture that has been absorbed by Police Scotland, but it didn't start there. That Police Scotland can't be more sensible about it is an issue for Police Scotland, and IMO an example of the problem of a single Police Service whose senior members are too closely linked and reliant on the political establishement.

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brooksby | 3 weeks ago
11 likes

Hang on, then: are they really saying that they can't run close pass operations to make the roads safer for vulnerable road users, because the roads aren't safe for their officers to ride bikes on them? FFS!

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ktache replied to brooksby | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

Its not even that original.

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mctrials23 replied to brooksby | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

They are probably scared they will meet one of the mythical lycra louts on these quiet country roads. The real menace on the roads. 

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MichaelWinnerRIP | 3 weeks ago
8 likes

Think yourselves lucky if your local police force carries out safe/close pass operations.

Chief Inspector Tony Tinsley of Humberside Police Roads Policing section told me that the force considered these operations as too dangerous for Humbersides police officers.

Beat that!

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Car Delenda Est | 3 weeks ago
11 likes

The motorists are making police no-go zones!! 😱

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ktache replied to Car Delenda Est | 3 weeks ago
1 like

That's never going to be repeated by Steve Bannon.

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chrisonabike | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

Quote:

Police claim they don’t carry out close pass operations on ANY roads due to "too much effort getting corroboration" / "no enthusiasm from those at the top" / "people having a word at the club" “safety element involved towards police cyclists” - after cyclist complains of dangerous driving and “20 closes passes by drivers in a day” on national cycle route

FTFY.

Avatar
OldRidgeback | 3 weeks ago
7 likes

Police Scotland being ineffective? Who'd have thought it?

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