All of us who cycle have experienced situations where overtaking drivers have passed too close for comfort. An annoying inconvenience at best, life threatening at worst. Even if you get the number of the vehicle, complaining to the Police is rarely successful “It’s your word against theirs” being a common response. But at the end of the day it is rank bad driving, covered by driving legislation.
Some months ago West Midlands Police, after representations from local cyclists, decided to do something about this, and set up a scheme where they put Officers on bikes on major roads in Birmingham and pulled in drivers who passed too close – less than 1.5 metres is considered “too close”. Many of the drivers, especially those with an otherwise clean record, were given advice and a warning, but others, including those who had form or had committed other motoring offences, were prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.
Representations have recently been made to the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns – Williamson, asking him to introduce a similar scheme here in West Yorkshire. The background to this is that Road Safety is one of the priorities in the (West Yorkshire) Police and Crime Plan 2016-2021. At a Road Safety Conference he organised in Pudsey on 14 November, Mark announced that he had asked the West Yorkshire Police to work up a proposal for our area, and it is the intention to carry out a trial in Headingly early in 2017.
Police resources are stretched, and there has been a reduction in recent years in the number of dedicated Police traffic personnel. So this is a potentially good news story which local cycle campaigners will be watching with interest.
More information about the West Midlands initiative can be found here https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/latest-news/news.aspx?id=4942