PSNI Close-Pass Operation To Take Place

This month, police officers across Northern Ireland will be taking to the road on unmarked bicycles as part of its close-pass operation to raise awareness about cycle safety.

During the PSNI's close-pass operations, which was first trialled in 2017, police officers patrol in plain clothes on unmarked bicycles equipped with cameras and supported by police motorcyclists. They will identify drivers who fail to give cyclists enough room when passing. In our June 2023 operation, the PSNI stopped 103 vehicles for not maintaining the accepted safe distance from cyclists.

Superintendent Gary Busch said: "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 and will be prosecuted. 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.
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"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 other all districts, helping to keep our roads safer for all."

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