Plea to clampdown on motorists driving 'perilously close' to South Yorkshire cyclists

A demonstration of the 'Close Pass' initiative.

A demonstration of the 'Close Pass' initiative.

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South Yorkshire Police is being urged to adopt a new initiative aimed at clamping down on motorists who drive perilously close to cyclists.

Cycle Sheffield is encouraging the force to follow the example of their counterparts in the midlands and introduce a 'Close Pass' initiative, in which drivers failing to allow a safe 1.5 metre clearance when overtaking bikes face prosecution for driving without due care and attention.

Officers attended a workshop run by the West Midlands force in January 2017 but police chiefs have still not confirmed whether or not they will adopt the scheme.

Road safety campaign groups which represent thousands of cyclists in South Yorkshire have now contacted Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner, calling for the adoption of the ‘Close Pass’ initiative.

Walkley man Dexter Johnstone, aged 35, secretary of Cycle Sheffield, said: "South Yorkshire has a worse per capita KSI (killed or seriously injured) rate for cyclists than the West Midlands and the adoption of such a scheme would help improve both the safety and perception of safety of cycling in our region.

"We appreciate that police resources are under intense pressure due to central government’s ongoing austerity programme, however, West Midlands Police have stated that their close pass initiative is ‘cost neutral’. Cycling UK are crowdfunding the mats used to educate drivers over safe passing distances which they are making available to every police force.

"We believe that people who drive poorly/dangerously around cyclists are likely to do the same around other road users and therefore this initiative will benefit all road users, not just cyclists.

First introduced by West Midlands Police in September 2016 similar initiatives have now been rolled out by police forces across the country and only last week West Yorkshire Police became the latest to do so.

A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said the force is "absolutely committed to safety for all road users and to reducing the number of people killed and injured on our roads.

"We are continuing to look at the Close Pass initiative and to evaluate its effectiveness, among the range of other tactics that we use to improve road safety in South Yorkshire.”