Video: Police to pull over Edinburgh drivers ‘too close to cyclists’

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Plain-clothed police will be taking to the streets of the Capital as part of a clampdown on motorists driving too close to cyclists.

Operation Close Pass will see drivers pulled over and given advice using a specially designed mat to show how much space a cyclist needs when being overtaken.

Operation Close Pass will see motorists who pass unmarked cars too cloesly pulled over. Picture: contributed.

Operation Close Pass will see motorists who pass unmarked cars too cloesly pulled over. Picture: contributed.

Originally developed by West Midlands Police, it is hoped the initiative could eventually be rolled out across the whole of Scotland.

A city-wide survey last month showed that nearly half of cyclists felt unsafe on the Capital’s roads.

PC Dominic Doyle, from Police Scotland’s Divisional Road Policing Unit, said drivers getting too close was often cited as a significant disincentive to cycle.

He said: “A lot of drivers see a person on a bicycle riding on the road on in a cycle lane and don’t consider that passing them closely puts all road users in danger.

“It could constitute careless or even dangerous driving and you would fail your driving test for that.

“You should allow at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car when passing a person on a bicycle.”

PC Doyle said the pilot’s initial focus would be on educating drivers – rather than dishing out punishments – but added that motorists caught flouting the rules could face £100 fines and three points on their licence.

The pilot was launched by officers on Telford Road and saw a number of motorists pulled over yesterday morning,

One driver, who did not want to be named, said he thought he’d given the cyclist enough space.

However, he voiced support for the scheme, adding: “I’m a cyclist myself and I get hacked off at drivers who don’t give you room.”

The operation is running alongside Cycling Scotland’s Give Everyone Cycle Space campaign.

Keith Irving, Cycling Scotland chief executive, welcomed the new initiative and said it was “one of many” needed to tackle serious injuries among cyclists.

He said: “Education and enforcement are essential to making safer roads for everyone, whether we are cycling, driving or walking.

“We aim to see the scheme rolled out nationwide so everyone will benefit, complementing the Give Everyone Cycle Space road safety awareness campaign which reminds people to drive and overtake safely around people riding bikes.”

The initiative has also earned the backing of local campaigners in the capital.

Martin McDonnell, of cycling campaign group Spokes, said it was a step in the right direction to improving safety on the roads.

He added: “We have seen what’s happened in the West Midlands and elsewhere round the countr and it seems to be having a real impact on driver behaviour and making people feel safer being out on the road on their bikes.

“There have been some studies done that if somebody does close passes they are more likely to be involved in a collision subsequently so it’s better to catch it early on in the process rather than later.”

Chief Superintendent Andy Edmonston, head of road policing for Police Scotland, said: “We are constantly working to make Scotland’s roads safer for everyone and I am very pleased to see this innovative approach being piloted in Edinburgh where a large number of people cycle to commute and for pleasure.

“I would encourage all road users to take responsibility for their own safety whilst respecting that of others, and any road traffic offences that are seen by officers during the operation will be dealt with appropriately.

“I would urge cyclists to make themselves as visible as possible to other road users through positioning and clear signals, reflectors and lights after dark and light-coloured clothing, and to ride safely according to the law.”

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk