Operation Close Pass: Sharing our roads responsibly
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Surrey has been a hotspot for cyclists for many years, particularly since the 2012 Olympic Games which used the area around the Surrey Hills for its road cycling events.
Over the years, there has been high levels of animosity and conflict between cyclists and motorists which have on occasion spilled over into violence, road traffic collisions and injuries. This has continued to rise during the pandemic, where initially areas have seen a rise in cyclists using Surrey’s roads, and more recently communities impacted by increased traffic levels and vehicles being used in an anti-social manner.
One of the biggest causes of conflict on Surrey’s roads is the ‘close pass’ scenario whereby a vehicle does not give sufficient space to a cyclist or rider when overtaking, or groups of cyclists that ride together in a large ‘peloton’ thereby giving no space for motorists to pass.
A recent survey of Twitter users on the @SurreyRoadCops account showed that the majority of users would be put off riding their bikes because of a perception of danger from other road users.
The operation, which is being run by the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit over the weekend (Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 May), aims to increase safety on our roads, deal with any offences of speeding and dangerous driving robustly, and ultimately reduce the number of collisions and incidents involving cyclists, motorists and horse riders.
During the weekend activity, officers will engage with both drivers and riders to educate and create a more harmonious relationship between communities and road users themselves in hotspot areas. Officers will be positioned at two locations during the weekend including the Box Hill area, using the Zig Zag Road, Old London Road, Leetch Lane, Headley Road and Box Hill Village. As well as the A25 from Shere to Newlands Corner, and the villages surrounding Albury.
A police officer in plain clothes equipped with video capability will be cycling along the routes as a ‘spotter’, identifying any ‘close pass’ incidents or other motoring offences as well as any offences relating to cycling or cyclists contravening the road traffic act.
Officers on two marked police motorbikes will be stationed behind and ahead of the rider so that they are able to locate and stop any road user which has been identified.
Casualty reduction officers will staff a gazebo which will be used as an educational tool. Any motorist or cyclist stopped will be given the opportunity of an ‘educational’ input to highlight the dangers or alternatively being reported for the relevant offence in the usual manner.
Chief Inspector Michael Hodder of the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit said: “As the government restrictions are being relaxed we have seen an increase in visitors to the area and we continue to work with the public of Surrey, in particular I am keen that we help to improve the relationship between all road users especially in the Surrey Hills area. I believe that this is a very important operation as I am aware of the busy use of the roads by runners, cyclists, cars and motorbikes resulting in times where there has been tensions between cyclists, runners and motorists. This has on occasion spilled over to affect communities and our residents too.
“This campaign is not about pointing the blame at any particular group, but is aimed at working together to make our roads safer by respecting each other and protecting our most vulnerable road users.”
For the latest updates from the operation over the weekend, follow our @SurreyRoadCops on Twitter.