Police in the West Midlands recently announced their “zero tolerance” approach to drivers who do not give cyclists enough room on the roads.
The statement, published on the West Midlands Police Traffic Unit’s website, highlights road traffic accidents involving cyclists and promises to crack down on motorists overtaking without giving a considerable amount of room.
Between 2010 and 2014 there were 530 road traffic collisions involving bicycles in which someone was killed or seriously injured. In 517 of those, at least one other vehicle was involved, usually a car.
Cycling UK has called the WMP’s initiative the “best ever cyclist road safety initiative”. The charity has praised this initiative for its combination of enforcement with education.
Under the initiative, drivers will be offered a road-side educational input on safe overtaking. Repeat offenders, however, who drive dangerously close to a cyclist can expect to be prosecuted and taken to court.
A statement from Cycling UK, said: “Close passes of cyclists, sometimes called near misses, put riders at risk and put other people off cycling.
“West Midlands Police is the first force in the country to fully appreciate this and commit to a bold and intelligence-led enforcement operation to protect vulnerable road users.”
Dave Thompson, chief constable of West Midlands Police, added: “As a cyclist and chief constable this is really useful and excellent sense.”
The force’s official announcement on Friday 16 September, was attended by Cycling UK and retired Olympic champion and Tour De France cyclist, Chris Boardman.
See the below video of Chris Boardman explaining how to safely overtake cyclists.
What Does The Law Say on Close-Passing Drivers?
Rule 163 of the Highway Code states that a road user should only overtake when it is safe and legal to do so and that you should:
- not get too close to the vehicle you intend to overtake;
- not assume that you can simply follow a vehicle ahead which is overtaking; there may only be enough room for one vehicle;
- give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.
The WMP’s prosecution of negligible motorists putting vulnerable road users at risk is welcome news for cyclists, and will hopefully be implemented elsewhere by other police forces across the UK.
Richard Gaffney is Slater and Gordon’s principal lawyer for Cycling UK (previously CTC), the national cycling charity.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers can provide you with free legal advice on cycling accident claims in an online guide that you can download and print.
Call us for a free consultation on 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.