Two more forces have introduced versions of the close pass operation pioneered by West Midlands Police. Four Norwich motorists were pulled over by Norfolk police yesterday, while Suffolk police are running an operation in Ipswich today.
Operation Close Pass involves plain clothes police and community support officers out on bikes identifying drivers who don't allow enough room when overtaking; who follow too closely; or who ‘left-hook' by overtaking and then turning left across their path.
The police cyclists are equipped with cameras to record evidence of driving offences. If one occurs they report it to uniformed officers on motorbikes who will be operating within the area.
PC Stuart Aldous was one of the officers on a bike for the initial operation in Norwich yesterday.
He told the Eastern Daily Press that while most drivers had tried to give him a wide berth, he’d experienced a couple of scary moments.
“I had a couple on Bracondale, one was really close. I could’ve stuck my elbow out and hit the car. It was very close.
“A bit further up the road I was turning left and the car was turning left as well and pulled straight in front of me. It was clear the driver just didn’t see me.”
He said the incidents were frightening, adding: “I don’t usually cycle in the city – I stay away from it.”
Four motorists were spoken to after being caught driving too close. Three took up the offer of roadside education using Cycling UK’s close pass mat. One refused and was given a Traffic Offence Report for consideration of the offences committed.
The operation also saw the arrest of a 19-year-old motorist on suspicion of drug driving after he failed a roadside drugs test.
Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt, of the Serious Collision Investigation Team, said: “We’ve had a really good positive response from the people who have come through.
“The fact we’ve had low numbers says to me that actually at this time of the day we’ve got some really good drivers out there. But we’ve still got people we have stopped, which is disappointing.”
Speaking ahead of the operation, he said: "Between 2012 and 2015 over 750 pedal cycle casualties were recorded in Suffolk, with the number of ‘near miss’ incidents unconfirmed but undoubtedly much higher.
"The aim of this operation is to highlight the dangers posed to cyclists by motor vehicles and to increase awareness amongst other road users as to how their manner of driving could result in causing serious injury to a cyclist.
"The focus of the day will to use education as an alternative to prosecution, as we want to inform drivers on why their driving was careless and take the opportunity to change attitudes towards cyclists.
"We also want to raise confidence among cyclists that we are committed to making our roads safe for everyone to use and we hope this also helps encourage other people to take up cycling, who may otherwise be deterred due to concerns over safety.”