Make room for cy­clists, driv­ers told

Southport Visiter - - Visiter Active -

MERSEY­SIDE’S Po­lice Com­mis­sioner has ap­plauded the launch in Sefton of a “close pass” op­er­a­tion which aims to bet­ter pro­tect the re­gion’s cy­clists.

Mersey­side Road Safety Part­ner­ship’s Safer Roads team in­tro­duced Op­er­a­tion Safe Pass to teach driv­ers about the min­i­mum space needed when over­tak­ing cy­clists to en­sure they can use the roads safely.

The High­way Code stip­u­lates that mo­torists should give cy­clists at least the same dis­tance as ve­hi­cles when over­tak­ing and any­one en­croach­ing within the safe pass­ing dis­tance – widely con­sid­ered to be a min­i­mum of 1.5 me­tres (5ft) – runs the risk of be­ing pros­e­cuted for driv­ing with­out due care and at­ten­tion.

Dur­ing the op­er­a­tion, driv­ers who failed to give cy­clists the min­i­mum safe space were pulled over by po­lice and given ad­vice about the po­ten­tial dan­gers of their driv­ing.

Dur­ing the three-hour op­er­a­tion, which took place in Derby Road, Crosby Road South and Lord Street in Southport, 21 driv­ers were pulled over into fire sta­tions where a cy­cle mat was used to demon­strate the dis­tance they should leave when over­tak­ing a cy­clist.

Leaflets ex­plain­ing the im­por­tance of safe pass were also handed out and in­for­ma­tion was pro­vided to pass­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic and bike users.

The close pass op­er­a­tion was de­vel­oped by West Mid­lands po­lice in Septem­ber last year and has since been adopted by a num­ber of other forces and road safety part­ner­ships.

The ini­tia­tive has been wel­comed by the re­gion’s po­lice com­mis­sioner, Jane Kennedy, who in May this year made im­prov­ing road safety one of her five polic­ing pri­or­i­ties.

Ear­lier this month, she joined new Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Road Safety Part­ner­ship to launch a road safety strat­egy for the re­gion.

Mrs Kennedy said: “Since 2010, Mersey­side has wit­nessed an in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple killed or se­ri­ously in­jured on its roads. Cy­clists are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble and that is why more needs to be done to bet­ter pro­tect them and en­sure other road users are con­sid­er­ate of their needs.

“This op­er­a­tion is de­signed to bet­ter ed­u­cate driv­ers so they are aware of the space they need to al­lo­cate when pass­ing cy­clists, but i it also car­ries with it a de­ter­rent - those who c con­tinue to flout the law will be pros­e­cuted.

“Our pri­or­ity must be mak­ing the roads a safer place for all who use them and I hope we can re­duce the need for en­force­ment ac­tion by in­creas­ing aware­ness and un­der­stand­ing among driv­ers through ini­tia­tives such as this.”

Sgt Ian McPhail who leads the Safer Roads prob­lem solv­ing team said: “We are com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing all road users and that means putting in place mea­sures to bet­ter pro­tect those who use the road who are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble, in­clud­ing cy­clists.

“I want to get the mes­sage out – ‘pass safer, not closer’.

“We know that the fail­ure by some driv­ers to give cy­clists suf­fi­cient space when over­tak­ing is a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in why peo- ple are put off from us­ing bikes.

“Driv­ers need to be aware that by pass­ing a cy­clist too closely they are putting an in­di­vid­ual in dan­ger.

“It is not good enough for mo­torists to sim­ply con­cen­trate on get­ting from A to B - they need to be aware of those around them and en­sure they are driv­ing in a safe man­ner which does not put en­dan­ger any­one else around them.

“Driv­ers who fail to do this face be­ing pros­e­cuted for driv­ing care­lessly or even dan­ger­ously.”

The ‘close pass’ op­er­a­tion sent out a mes­sage to driv­ers and passers-by

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