“We can’t be everywhere, but we could be anywhere,” said Sergeant Andy Osborne from the Met’s Cycle Safety Team of their new tactic to improve cyclist and driver safety, which was launched on Friday, 21 July.
Cycle Safety Team officers from the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command will go to any location, at any time, on any borough, based on intelligence and complaints, to ensure drivers properly obey the rules of the road.
The officers will now be working be in plain clothes, wearing video cameras and riding unmarked bicycles donated by BMW, to identify and deal with the offences that most deter people from cycling:
o Unsafe following (tailgating)
o Unsafe overtaking (close passes)
o Unsafe turning (left or right turns across the cyclists path)
If officers encounter a driver committing any of these offences, they will identify them to a nearby, marked police motorcycle rider who will stop and engage with them.
In line with any police roadside stop, the driver will be required to provide evidence of insurance, a driving licence, pass a roadside eyesight test and have their vehicle checked for roadworthiness.
The driver will be reminded (through a short presentation) of the Highway Code rules regarding the offences and the standard of driving that they should reasonably be expected to attain (in particular, rules 126, 163 and 179,180 & 182).
Professional drivers, especially those subject to certificate of professional competence requirements, and those who display examples of particularly bad driving will not be offered the roadside engagement and will be reported in the usual way, which may lead to a court appearance.
Thanks to the support of havebike and London Cycling Campaign, 2000 car stickers with the words ‘I give space for cyclists’ will be given to motorists on the day and at Exchanging Places events to remove perceived pressure on the driver from cars that might be following very closely.
Sergeant Andy Osborne, Cycle Safety Team, said: “We want all road users to obey the Highway Code. This tactic is about education and encouraging motorists who do not comply with the rules of the road to start doing so – for everyone’s safety and protection – theirs included.
“There is a lot of traffic in the capital and we all need to share the roads and be mindful of other road users. In its simplest form, it’s about being courteous to one another.
“By all road users obeying the Highway Code, collectively we can help lessen incidents of people being killed or seriously injured on the roads.”
Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “We know that safety concerns are one of the biggest barriers to cycling in London. That’s why we’re working hard to build high-quality safe routes to encourage even more people to cycle, and why I’m so pleased to see the Met tackling some of the dangers that we see on our roads.”
Lord Berkeley, The president of the Road Danger Reduction Forum, said:
“The Road Danger Reduction Forum was pleased to support West Midlands Police when they initiated the policing of close passing of cyclists last year. We are very glad to see another initiative in the same spirit being pursued by the Metropolitan Police, and look forward to seeing it being rolled out across London.”
Ashok Sinha, Chief Executive, London Cycling Campaign said: “Drivers passing too close is terrifying and off-putting to people cycling. Most people cite road danger and near misses as major reasons why they don’t cycle. The Highway Code requires drivers give safe space to cyclists when overtaking. This welcome operation on close passes will send a message to drivers in London to obey the Highway Code and stay wider of the rider.”
Nick Brown, Managing Director of havebike says, “it is imperative that the perception of cycle safety in the capital needs to improve. Close passes by motor vehicles can be very intimidating to cyclists. We’re delighted to be supporting the Metropolitan Police’s Cycle Safety Team and very grateful to be able to leverage our relationships with clients such as BMW to provide the undercover bicycles that are being used during the project.”
Stay safe and please share this news with your friends!
The havebike Team