Written by Graham Cutbill-White
Drivers getting up close and personal with cyclists are set to face punishment as part of a new government crackdown.
Any driver looking to overtake a cyclist must leave at least 1.5m when passing, otherwise, they face a £100 fine and three points on their driving licence.
The penalties are set to be introduced across the UK in the coming months after a successful two-year trial organised by police in Cambridgeshire and West Midlands. The scheme involved a number of plain-clothed officers on bikes were used to catch close-passing drivers.
During the operation accidents involving cyclists fell by 20% in the two areas.
One of the officers in charge of the initiative for West Midlands police, PC Mark Hodson said that the new consequences and general attitude improvements mean the tide is turning towards safer roads for cyclists:
“Cycling groups are telling us that, on the whole, motorists are becoming more considerate and understand we will prosecute them if they endanger vulnerable road users.
“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.”
As well as the introduction of brand new fines and penalty points, the Department for Transport has secured £500,000 of funding for a new safety scheme to improve safety and encourage more people to get on their bikes.
Roads minister Jesse Norman announced the scheme at a Cycle City conference in Manchester, as well as plans to support the police to crack down on drivers passing too close to cyclists. This includes producing training materials for them to help educate drivers on the dangers of ‘close passing’.
At the event, the MP said:
“The benefits of cycling and walking are enormous. For people, it means cheaper travel and better health. For businesses, it means increased productivity and increased footfall in shops, and for society as a whole it means lower congestion, better air quality, and vibrant, attractive places.
“But we will only achieve our ambitious aims if people feel safe when they walk and cycle.
“We shouldn’t only concentrate on catching and punishing drivers when they make a mistake, but try to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to drive safely alongside cyclists in all conditions.”