Undercover police in UK riding bikes to catch dangerous drivers

One police force caught 19 drivers and four drivers could be prosecuted

Cyclists in London (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
(Image credit: In Pictures via Getty Images)

Undercover officers in the UK are riding bikes to catch dangerous drivers who near pass cyclists.

Norwich Constabulary ran an operation in Norfolk city centre last week to highlight the dangers cyclists face when drivers take risks overtaking.

Operation Close Pass, which took place on Thursday (January 30), saw plain clothes officers going out on bicycles to identify drivers who didn’t give riders enough room, followed too closely behind, or ‘left-hooked’ them by overtaking and then cutting up the cyclist when turning.

A motorcycle officer would then pursue the driver and either take immediate enforcement action or give them voluntary education.

Sergeant Mark Barney, form the joint Norfolk and Suffolk roads and armed policing team, said: “The primary aim of this operation is to raise awareness about cyclists’ safety and educate and inform other road users about the risks faced by them.

“Cyclists can often feel vulnerable on the roads, with vehicles driving too closely to them or cutting them up. What was disappointing about the 19 offences we detected in Norwich, was that four of them were committed by professional drivers. These are people that drive for a living and who therefore we would expect much better from.

“However, the educational input was well-received by all of the drivers who completed it and I hope it will make them think more carefully in the future about their manner of driving around cyclists.”

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Officers, equipped with cameras to record evidence, observed 19 offences during the operation, with 14 drivers opting for the voluntary education and a further four prosecutions under consideration after the drivers couldn’t be stopped at the time.

Those stopped including two taxi drivers, a lorry driver and an off-duty bus driver.

Drivers were told why near-passing is so dangerous and reminded of the law, which states drivers should give cyclists at least 1.5 metres of space when overtaking.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.