West Mercia to launch Operation Close Pass after U-turn - The Evesham Observer

West Mercia to launch Operation Close Pass after U-turn

Evesham Editorial 30th Sep, 2020 Updated: 1st Oct, 2020   0

WEST Mercia Police are taking part in the Operation Close Pass – after one of its officers initially said it was too dangerous and put officers lives at risk.

The operation uses a number of police officers and PCSOs on bikes equipped with video cameras to record those drivers who do not give enough room to cyclists when they overtake them.

However last month the force was slated by no less than Olympic cycling gold medallist Chris Boardman after one of its Superintendents tweeted that the operation would not go ahead due to the danger it posed to officers.

This prompted Boardman, who is now the walking and cycling czar for Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to reply: “If you think it is too dangerous for even police officers to ride a bike on the road, how will police officers not addressing the cause make it safer for the public?”

West Mercia promptly deleted the tweet and said Operation Close Pass would go ahead as planned.

The incident was doubly embarrassing for the force as all summer the government has been pushing its Active Travel agenda, encouraging more people to walk and cycle.

During the operation motorists who do not leave enough space when overtaking will be recorded and the offence dealt with. Drivers can be prosecuted for careless driving with 3 points on their licence and a £100 fine.

Currently the Highway Code states that drivers should allow vulnerable road users as much room as they would a car.

Since 2017 12 cyclists have been killed and 185 injured in collisions across West Mercia, and the force says a lot of these could’ve been avoidable if road users shared the road more responsibly.

Chief Supt Paul Moxley said: “Cycling has always been popular within West Mercia due to our fantastic countryside and many commuters are now choosing to use their bikes to get to work as a sustainable form of transport.

“We saw the number of cyclists increase over lockdown and with encouragement nationally for this to continue we have a duty to those that cycle on our roads to ensure this is done as safely as possible.”


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