Drivers who overtake cyclists 'too close for comfort' could be lectured by police with giant mats

Peter Walker
Cycling UK will offer one 'close pass mat' to each police force - West Midlands Police/PA

Police forces across the UK could use specially-designed mats to educate drivers on overtaking cyclists.

Motorists navigating around cyclists "too close for comfort" could be pulled over and given a 15-minute lecture, using a giant blue sheet on the road, following a successful trial in the West Midlands.

The mats display the 0.75m width from the curb that cyclists are asked to keep to, and the minimum 1.5m distance a driver should keep to when passing the biker.

Cycling UK, a Surrey-based charity, will offer one mat to each force after it crowdfunded £12,000 within just 48 hours.

“It feels like a big win,” said its head of campaigns and communications, David Murray.

“Police forces are being squeezed financially and politically and we want to help.”

West Midlands Police (WMP) trialled the mats from September last year and says it recorded a 50 per cent reduction in reported 'too close for comfort' offences in the following three months.

Pc Mark Hodson, of the WMP operation, said he hopes "every other police force will take advantage" in order to "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," he added.

Approximately 3,430 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads in the year ending September 2016, which was up 2 per cent on the previous 12 months.

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

Gloucester Police has already suggested it will take one of the charity's mats, but a National Police Chiefs Council spokesman said there was no pressure for forces to opt in.

Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh welcomed the initiative, adding: “Giving education is better than wielding the axe by giving an on the spot fines or by prosecuting.”

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