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'Best cyclist safety initiative ever' by West Midlands Police



Cycling UK has described an operation by West Midlands Police (WMP) in partnership with Birmingham City Council as 'the best cyclist road safety initiative ever'.

Officers on bikes note details of drivers who pass them too close, and radio them ahead to colleagues in cars, who intercept the drivers at a holding point. Most drivers can opt for 15 minutes of education at the roadside, but repeat offenders, or drivers who pass dangerously close, will be prosecuted.

Cycling UK's Road Safety & Legal Campaigner Duncan Dollimore said, 'Cyclists have been campaigning about close passes for years, with limited success...This is the first time a police force has come forward with a plan to prioritise enforcement against close pass drivers. It is quite simply the best cyclist safety initiative by any police force ever.'

A WMP blog post dated 9th September 2016 explains that a close pass is the most common complaint they receive from cyclists - a due care and attention offence. However, of the 530 cyclists killed or seriously injured (KSI) in the West Midlands between 2010 and 2014, 98% involved another vehicle, and 75% occurred at or within 20 metres of a junction. So although close passes are the cyclists' biggest concern, most KSIs occur because a driver fails to see a person on a bike at a junction. The blog says, '...drivers are trained and habitually look for other vehicles when negotiating junctions and show a total disregard when it comes to looking for or being aware of vulnerable road users...'

The blog goes on to explain that WMP decided to enforce the law. When someone fails to give a cyclist the time and space they need, or doesn't see them at all, the person must expect to be prosecuted. 'Once drivers become aware that an infringement involving a cyclist is one they should expect to be prosecuted for, they suddenly become more aware of them on the road and in turn start giving them the time and space they should lawfully have as a an equal road user.'

It continues, '...statistical analysis shows that [cyclists] aren't to blame, innocent in the majority of KSI collisions, [so] it would be a waste of our time, and thus public time and money to concentrate on cyclist behaviour.'

The close pass scheme has been chosen as a proactive way to protect vulnerable road users. When drivers opt for education, it involves showing them how far they should be from a cyclist - WMP have chosen 1.5m as a minimum. It will be a greater distance for some vehicle types, and at higher speeds.

Station Parade has worst air quality in Harrogate district

15th September 2016

Station Parade taxi rank, Harrogate

Harrogate's air quality deteriorated in 2015. The worst single location for nitrogen dioxide pollution is the taxi rank on Station Parade, Harrogate. Read about Station Parade has worst air quality in Harrogate.

Use part of sugar tax for active travel to school, campaigners urge

17th September 2016

In a letter to the Guardian, campaigners have urged the government to commit the unallocated part of the sugar tax to enabling children to walk or cycle to school. Sam Jones of Cycling UK explains that only £169m of the total £520m expected to be raised has so far been allocated. 

The letter points out that only 2% of children go to school by bike, and 41% walk. Sugar tax funds could be used to strengthen the governement's cycling and walking strategy. Walking or cycling to school builds physical activity into a daily routine. 'During the Olympics, the government showed what can be achieved through substantial investment in sport. Now let us invest in more than just gold medals, by funding the health and prosperity of our next generation.' 

The letter's signatories include the Chief Executives of the British Liver Trust, Cycling UK, Sustrans, and the Royal Society for Public Health.

Station Parade taxi rank, HarrogateChris BoardmanStation Parade, Harrogate

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