Dame Sarah Storey joined South Yorkshire Police on a close-pass cycling patrol (opens in new tab) of the A57 just outside of Sheffield.
The 14-time Paralympic gold medallist joined the Project EDWARD (Every Day without a Road Death) patrol on Friday, September 17 on the main road out of Sheffield towards the Ladybower reservoir before it heads up Snake Pass towards Manchester and Glossop.
The ride was a steady one over a distance of 27.82km starting and finishing at the Rivelin Corn Mill Dam with the turn-around point just before Priddock Wood with a gentle average speed of 28km/h.
In the bio of the Strava ride (opens in new tab), Inspector Smith wrote: "As one of the roads that we receive the most complaints about, we headed to the A57 to Manchester Road on a route that ran from Rails Road up to Cut-throat bridge."
The team sent two groups out, one dressed as road cyclists including Storey and another on the officer's own e-bikes. The A57 is known to have drivers going at high speed on the climb through tight, blind bends. This means that riding two abreast is often safer.
"Unfortunately, it was not the most stress-free afternoon of cycling, with lots of people apparently unable to overtake without the assistance of their horn (perhaps it is linked to a booster system?)" Inspector Smith continued.
"Sarah’s Garmin radar detected 110 overtakes over the two laps we completed, and of those 110 overtakes, 20 were stopped for advice purposes, which is disappointing."
The other team also received multiple close passes with 25 drivers stopped for advice purposes and a further five to be contacted by post.
"In total [there were] 10 prosecutions for a range of offences from careless driving to contravening double white lines. It seems many drivers are unaware that if a cyclist is travelling at more than 10 miles per hour there is no loophole to allow them to overtake on double white lines, and we saw a depressing level of selfish and poor behaviour throughout the day."
The Inspector also spoke about Twitter users posting about Highway code rule 66 as an attempt to justify close passes in what he described as "whatabout-isms" which he replied with, "on this road, the only safe place to be to overtaking is on the opposite side of the carriageway (it is a 50mph road), and if you need to be on the opposite side of the carriageway, it doesn’t matter how far into the road the cyclists are, if there’s no room on the opposite side of the road, there’s not enough room to overtake."
Project EDWARD is a new incentive from police to try and tackle dangerous driving by going on close-pass rides, using speed cameras and CCTV vans to find drivers who are texting or on their phones as well as driving dangerously.
On a lighter note, Inspector Smith definitely got a workout on his ride with Dame Storey saying: "As you can imagine, trying to keep up with a gold medallist also added a new level of difficulty to the affair (this was my second highest wattage 20 minutes of 2021...and trust me, I wasn’t planning on going all out).
"But it was good to show Dame Storey how we run close pass operations to try and educate road users, either by speaking to them at the side of the road, or by providing consequences to their poor driving choices."
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