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The Operation ‘Close Pass’ Sees the Number of Cyclist Deaths Drop By a Fifth

By Monica Buck

Over 350 prosecutions were made using footage given to officers by the public, 178 drivers were pulled over and given a lesson on safe overtaking and most importantly, the number of cyclists who were killed or seriously injured decreased by 20%. Is this the best cycling safety initiative ever? Since its launch 12 months ago, the area for which the West Midlands Police is responsible has definitely become much safer for cyclists.

“We’ve seen a significant change in driver behaviour across the region as a result of the operation and the campaign… Hopefully that’s going to have a profound impact on the amount of people we have killed or seriously injured on our roads in the coming years,” Mark Hodson from West Midlands Police told ITV.

The department was the first one in the UK to use undercover officers, dressed in plain clothes, who go out into the streets on bikes and are on the lookout for dangerous activity. In case they encounter a ‘close-pass’ driver, they radio the details to their colleagues in a car up the road who pull the driver over.

Birmingham Cycle Revolution has paid for a mat used to show people the safe distance to pass cyclists (1.5 metres).

The results of the ‘Close Pass’ initiative did not go unnoticed. The Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire Police have already started similar operations, and 26 other forces from all across the UK are going to attend a seminar hosted by the West Midlands Police to see if they can replicate the initiative in their area.