West Midlands Police's pioneering Close Pass road safety scheme
has received ministerial backing as the government looks to aid the
roll-out of the scheme across the UK.
Cycling Minister MP Jesse Norman announced plans on 29 June to
provide training materials and support for police forces looking to
adopt the initiative.
West Midlands Police launched #OpClosePass two years ago in a
bid to educate motorists on the dangers of overtaking too close to
cyclists - and prosecute reckless drivers who endanger vulnerable
It was the first such scheme in the UK and has coincided with a
20 per cent reduction in the number of cyclists killed or seriously
injured on West Midlands' roads.
Several other police forces have now embraced the operation and
Mr Norman is keen to see more regions put Close Pass into
WMP's Close Pass scheme sees cops pose
as cyclists to catch offenders
He said: "We are determined to make cycling safer and easier
across the country.
"It is great to see that serious collisions involving cyclists
have fallen in the West Midlands following the success of their
'close passing awareness' campaign. The Government will be
supporting them, including with training materials, so that more
drivers are made aware of the need to leave a safe distance when
"Alongside this we are making half a million pounds available to
pilot free cycle training for driving instructors, to support
greater understanding and empathy among the next generation of road
#OpClosePass sees plain clothes cops pedalling busy roads on the
lookout for motorists who pass too close for comfort.
But in addition to pulling over dodgy drivers − offering
roadside educational inputs to many and taking the most serious
offenders to court − the force has prosecuted more than 400
motorists using video footage provided by the public.
PC Mark Hodson, from West Midlands Police's Road Harm Reduction
Unit, said reports of close-passes have halved in the region since
the project launched while the number of cyclists seriously hurt in
collisions has fallen by a fifth.
He added: "Cycling groups are telling us that, on the whole,
motorists are becoming more considerate; the reduction in serious
collisions we've seen is incredible when placed against a backdrop
of increasing numbers of people cycling on our roads.
#OpClosePass aims to educate drivers on
the dangers of overtaking too close to cyclists
"Drivers who endanger vulnerable road users need to understand
that we run operations to catch them… and if they avoid our
officers we can still prosecute them using footage provided by
cyclists and other motorists.
"We've hosted conferences on Close Pass attended by officers
from more than 20 police forces plus road safety experts. It's
encouraging to see the government is trying to facilitate the
roll-out as wide as possible… it will help prevent serious
collisions and save lives."
West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson,
said: "I am extremely proud of West Midlands Police's pioneering
close pass scheme; we must have mutual respect on the roads and it
is vital cyclists are afforded the same rights and protection as
any other road user.
"As a former Transport Minister, I understand the importance of
road safety and made it a top priority in my Police and Crime Plan.
This is outstanding work by West Midlands Police that is leading
policing across the country."