CYCLING groups have welcomed the decision by police to place plain clothed officers on bicycles in an attempt to catch drivers who pass too close.

After Hampshire Constabulary announced that a launch date for the initiative was anticipated soon, cycling groups have praised the idea to help raise drivers’ awareness.

The ‘close pass’ scheme has been rolled out in the West Midlands, with feasibility studies set to be undertaken around Hampshire.

Chief Inspector Henry Parsons said: “The close pass initiative looks excellent and we are making preparations to use it across Hampshire and Thames Valley police areas. A launch date is anticipated soon.”

Hampshire police attended a training day hosted in the West Midlands, which they said they found interesting and informative, with research already being conducted into a similar operation.

Southampton CTC, part of Cycling UK is an independent charitable organisation based in the city.

Chris Devrell, Southampton CTC’s ride coordinator said: “We very much welcome the police initiative to help drivers understand the correct amount of space to leave when passing cyclists.

“This will provide an opportunity for educating drivers and raising awareness of how dangerous their behaviour can be. Promoting awareness and consideration between all road users leads to safer journeys for all of us.”

The overtaking space for a car passing a cyclist is currently 1.5 metres, with the West Midlands Police trial catching 130 drivers in nine outings.
Sotonia Cycling Club, based in Southampton, and has more than 280 members.

Jez Hart, a member of the club, commutes from Rownhams.
Jez, 48, said: “I’ve been a road cyclist for seven years. Close passes are extremely frightening to even seasoned cyclists and a big reason fewer people use bikes to commute.

“Some drivers honestly don’t appreciate how little space they give cyclists whereas others squeeze cyclists dangerously into the gutter while avoiding oncoming traffic or merely to just show their displeasure that cyclists use the roads at all. Cycle paths in Southampton are uncommon and disjointed at best being mostly short stretches.”