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Cyclists frequently encounter 'close pass' drivers, survey reveals

Deniz Huseyin
10 July 2018


Nearly half of cyclists often experience ‘close pass’ incidents when out on their bikes, according to a survey by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC).

The online survey, which received more than 3,000 responses from LCC members and supporters, reveals that being passed closely by a motor vehicle happens to 23% every time they cycle while 45% said it was a frequent occurrence.

Among the other key findings, 50% said they now cycled in the centre of the lane as much as possible, 32% had made changes to the routes they cycled while 22% no longer cycle on busy roads due to the threat of close passing.

Asked to rate ‘close passing’ - on a scale of 0-5, with 5 being the most scary and intimidating - respondents rated it an average of 4.

In the wake of the survey results, LCC has launched a social media campaign - ‘Stay Wider of the Rider’ – to raise awareness of the distance that should be left when motor vehicles overtake cyclists. The campaign, sponsored by Continental Tyres and Uber Eats, includes a video fronted by Olympic medal winning triathletes the Brownlee Brothers.

The website includes an online map for cyclists to record incidents of close passing. The campaign also involves an online petition to transport minister Jesse Norman calling on the government to help every police force run close pass operations.

At the Cycle City Active City conference last month, Jesse Norman announced that the DfT would help police forces tackle close pass incidents. However, he was unable to offer details of what support would be offered and said it was not within his remit to urge police forces to enforce against close pass drivers.

While the Highway Code states drivers should leave the same distance as if they were passing another car, both the LCC and Continental Tyres are offering more detailed guidance. They are urging drivers to leave a minimum of 1.5m at 30mph, 2m at faster speeds and never less than 1m in slow-moving urban traffic (below 20mph).

Tom Bogdanowicz, senior policy and development officer of the London Cycling Campaign, said: “While it’s good to see the government beginning to take action, deterrence won’t be enough to tackle close passing. What we urgently need is a far wider campaign to raise awareness among millions of drivers just how dangerous close passing is. That’s what Stay Wider of the Rider can achieve.

“LCC has successfully campaigned for Dutch-quality cycling infrastructure for many years, but even in Holland a huge proportion of cycling still takes place on non-segregated roads where drivers and cyclists need to share road space; LCC will continue to campaign for more protected space for cycling, but we need initiatives like Stay Wider of the Rider to help educate drivers and reduce road danger for cyclists.”

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