Close pass: Police on alert for space invaders

mg_3517Police in Ealing are continuing to run a safety operation to highlight the dangers faced by cyclists as a result of motorists driving too closely to them.

Operation ‘Close Pass’ has been taking place in the borough since July 2017 and involves plain clothes police officers out on patrol on bicycles to spot dangerous driving. They wear video cameras and look out for the types of driving offences that most deter people from cycling: Unsafe following (tailgating); unsafe overtaking (close passes); and unsafe turning (left or right turns across the cyclist’s path).

If the officers spot an offence they report it to uniformed officers on motorbikes. These will then find the driver and stop them. The driver is asked to provide evidence of insurance, a driving licence, pass a roadside eyesight test and have their vehicle checked for roadworthiness. As long as the offence is not too serious (e.g. drink driving), the driver will be given the opportunity to have an on-the-spot awareness session. This will explain why their driving was careless or inconsiderate, inform them of the typical hazards faced by cyclists and also highlight the proper spacing that should be allowed for cyclists. The recommended safe clearance is one-and-a-half metres.

Cycle safety – driver passing too close to a cyclist

If the driver declines the offer, they will be issued with a traffic offence report.

‘We could be anywhere’

“We can’t be everywhere, but we could be anywhere,” said Sergeant Andy Osborne of the police’s Cycle Safety Team. “We want all road users in Ealing to obey the Highway Code. This tactic is about education and encouraging motorists who do not comply with the rules to start doing so – for everyone’s safety and protection, theirs included.”

Cycle safety review

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for transport, environment and leisure, said: “As a cyclist myself, I know how important it is to feel safe when on the roads and I hope it will be reassuring for all cyclists and road users that police are actively looking for drivers who drive dangerously and recklessly. The council is to undertake a cycle safety review of the borough and is pushing for more operations like this across the borough to tackle dangerous driving.”

Find out the results of our last Close Pass Operation in December

‘One of the biggest barriers to cycling’

Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: “We know that safety concerns are one of the biggest barriers to cycling in London. That’s why we’re working hard to build high-quality safe routes to enable even more people to cycle, and why I’m so pleased to see the police tackling some of the dangers that we see on our roads.”

More information on cycling

The council wants to help more residents to take up cycling because it is great exercise and reduces pollution and congestion. For information about the support available, including free lessons and free Dr Bike cycle maintenance sessions, visit www.ealing.gov.uk/cycling

Read more about cycling and driving safety tips via tfl.gov.uk and on Twitter at @MetCycleCops