Norfolk Police follows the initiative started by West Midland Police to educate drivers of the safe passing distance when overtaking cyclists

Norfolk Police is running a ‘close pass’ operation this week in Norwich to educate drivers of the safe passing distance when overtaking a cyclist.

Operation Close Pass was originally conceived by West Midlands Police, which put it to effective to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on its roads. The initiative is now being employed by other forces around the UK.

Norfolk Police’s operation will run in the area surrounding County Hall in Norwich on Tuesday, October 3, and will target drivers who pass cyclists too closely. It is recommended that 1.5 metres is the safe passing distance.

Plain-clothes officer will be on bikes, and equipped with video cameras. Any infraction will be passed on to uniformed officers riding motorbikes, who will stop the driver in question. Norfolk Police says that drivers “will be offered the opportunity to be escorted back to an engagement site for a voluntary educational input”.

>>> Operation Close Pass hailed a success as West Midlands Police see a reduction in cyclist casualties

“If the driver of the offending vehicle declines the offer of an educational input, they will then be issued with a Traffic Offence Report for consideration of the offences of either careless driving, or driving without due care and attention. Completion of the educational course and the Traffic Offence Report both take around the same amount of time to complete.”

Any other motoring offences will be dealt with by officers if they arise, for example a defective vehicle.

Norfolk Police say that over 1200 cycling injuries were reported in a five year period up to April 2017, although more may have gone unreported – including close passes.

“The aim of this operation is to highlight the dangers posed to cyclists by motor vehicles and to increase awareness amongst other road users as to how their manner of driving could result in causing serious injury to a cyclist,” said Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt, of the Serious Collision Investigation Team.

“The focus of the day will be to use education as an alternative to prosecution, as we want to inform drivers on why their driving was careless and take the opportunity to change attitudes towards cyclists.

“We also want to raise confidence among cyclists that we are committed to making our roads safe for everyone to use and we hope this also helps encourage other people to take up cycling, who may otherwise be deterred due to concerns over safety.”