Police To Check Motorists Driving Too Close To Cyclists

Checks by police on drivers not giving cyclists enough room will be taking place during cycle safety month

Police officers across Northern Ireland will be taking to the roads on unmarked bicycles, to raise awareness of cycle safety this month.

Superintendent Gary Busch said: “During our close-pass operations, which were first trailed in 2017, police officers in plain clothes on unmarked bicycles equipped with cameras, will be supported by police motorcyclists to identify drivers who don’t give cyclists enough room when they pass.

“During our close-pass operation in June 2023, we stopped 103 vehicles who didn’t leave the accepted safe distance between their vehicle and a cyclist.

“Recognising good driving standards, Officers also spoke with 55 motorists complimenting them on road safety around cyclists.

“16 motorists were given education and advice around cyclist safety. One motorist was stopped for being on their mobile phone whilst overtaking a cyclist.

Superintendent Gary Busch and Tommy McCague from Cycling Ulster.

“As a minimum, 1.5m is the accepted safe distance a motorist should allow between their vehicle and a cyclist on the roadway. Unfortunately, many drivers are falling far short of this safety requirement.

“During the operation, the cycle officers wear helmet mounted cameras that capture footage of motorists as they pass by.

“Where a driver has displayed potentially dangerous driving or has failed to allow a safe or adequate space when passing, the officers’ radio ahead to uniformed motorcycle colleagues who stop the motorist identified and offer the appropriate advice.

“While our primary focus at this early stage is education, where necessary and appropriate, we will consider enforcement action for the most serious examples, including the recently introduced careless driving fixed penalty notice.

“Motorists will also be offered the opportunity to view the footage captured by the cycle officers so they can fully appreciate what ‘close passing’ is like from the cyclist perspective.

“I should however also stress that police officers are also tasked to observe cyclist behaviour and intervene with any cyclist who fails to observe the rules of the road or where a cyclist may need to give greater consideration to the environment around them.

“Future plans for the initiative include the provision of training to cycling clubs and the limited provision of cameras to record incidents to be shared with police.”

Chairperson of Cycling Ulster, Tommy McCague said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership again with PSNI to bring Operation Close Pass on to our roads. 

“It has been a great success, and we believe this is of the utmost benefit to our road users. 

“The operation is focussed on safety and education for all road users, highlighting how we share the space on our roads.

“We look forward to Operation Close Pass being rolled in all districts, helping to keep our roads safer for all.”