Close pass mats to be distributed to UK police forces to improve cycle safety

Chloe Chaplain

A cycling charity is offering to supply all UK police forces with ‘close pass mats’ in an attempt to teach drivers how to overtake bikes safely.

Cycling UK has raised more than £12,000 in two days after launching a kickstarter campaign and said it will now be able to offer the mats to forces around the country.

The equipment can be used by officers to encourage these motorists not to encroach within 5ft (1.5m) of cyclists.

West Midlands Police recorded a 50 per cent reduction in reported close pass offences in the first three months after it began using the mats in September last year.

Safety: officer demonstrating a 'close pass mat' which will be offered to police forces to educate drivers (PA)

Pc Mark Hodson, who was involved in the WMP operation, said: "I hope every other police force will take advantage of this opportunity that Cycling UK and their backers created, and put an end to close passing for good.

"Drivers who pose the greatest threat on our roads need to get their house in order, or we'll do it for them."

Some 3,430 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads in the year ending September 2016, up 2 per cent on the previous 12 months, according to Department for Transport figures.

Roads: The mats will be used by officers to demonstrate a safe passing distance (PA)

Research led by Dr Rachel Aldred, of Westminster University, found that close passes account for nearly a third of all threatening encounters experienced by cyclists.

Cycling UK chief executive Paul Tuohy said the aim of the mat campaign was "helping out our cash-strapped forces to make our roads that little bit safer".

He went on: "West Midlands' operation has not only worked, but it's also gone down well with cyclists, road safety bodies and other police forces.

"It made sense to help give it that little bit of a push to roll it out nationally."

The crowdfunding campaign was launched on March 8 and had reached its target by March 10.

The mats are expected to be distributed to forces from next month.

It is not yet known whether the Metropolitan Police force will be implementing the mats.

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