Greater Manchester Police officers are to go undercover as plain clothed cyclists in order to spot vehicles that overtake dangerously close.
On Monday 20th March the GMP Traffic Unit will launch the close pass initiative. Following on from the success of a similar strategy employed by West Midlands Police, officers from the Traffic Unit will cycle the roads of Greater Manchester in a bid to identify those drivers who overtake them within the Highway Code’s recommended safe passing distance of 1.5 metres.
Once identified, a nearby police patrol vehicle will be called-in to intercept the driver and offer them on the spot education on how to safely overtake cyclists. Drivers who refuse the education will be charged with driving without due care and attention, which could result in the driver receiving a fine and points off their licence.
The cycling officers will use body worn cameras, along with cameras fixed to their pedal bikes, to capture any offences witnessed, including motorists using a mobile, failing to wear a seatbelt and any other offences committed whilst driving.
A number of ‘close pass' trials have already taken place in Bolton, Tameside and Manchester. The initiative will be rolled out gradually across all of Greater Manchester.
Inspector Paul Rowe from GMP’s Collision Investigation unit said “The close pass initiative aims to educate drivers on how to safely share the roads with cyclists.
“Our warning to reckless drivers is that the next cyclist you overtake could be a police officer.
“The close pass initiative, as part of Operation Considerate, highlights the need for all road users to be respectful of each other’s space.
“It is vital that motorists understand that cyclists are given the same rights and protection as any other road user.”
Councillor Mandie Shilton Godwin, lead member for active travel at Manchester City Council, said "I welcome this GMP initiative to help people understand how much space to leave when driving or motorcycling around people who are cycling.
"Close passes are uncomfortable - and sometimes frankly dangerous - so reminding motorists about this issue should help everyone feel more inclined to cycle.
"I hope that promoting respect and consideration between all road users leads to safer, stress-free journeys for all of us."
Graham Jones, Chair of the Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership, said: “Cycling is a great way to travel – it’s cheap, good for your health and benefits the environment.
“There’s a lot of work going on in Greater Manchester to make cycling a convenient and viable travel choice for as many people as possible by providing improved facilities and infrastructure, and training for both cyclists and drivers.
“Alongside this, road safety campaigns such as GMP’s close pass initiative have a proven record of successfully changing driver behaviour and improving the mutual respect between all road users.
“We’re happy to support the close pass scheme as part of a drive by partner organisations across Greater Manchester to make roads as safe as possible for everyone.”
A public event to announce the close pass initiative will be held at Broughton Park F.C. (Rugby Union) 2 Hough End Crescent, Manchester, from 8am to 11am on Monday 20th February.