Good news for cyclists: operation close pass comes to Edinburgh

Cyclist in cycle lane

This week sees Police Scotland launch "Operation Close Pass" in Edinburgh in an attempt to improve road safety for cyclists.

West Midlands Police were the first police force in the UK to trial the scheme and following its success, the scheme is being trialled in Edinburgh. It will be the first of its kind in Scotland with Police Scotland hoping it could be rolled out across the country if successful.

Operation Close Pass is aiming to raise awareness that some drivers are still driving too close to cyclists and leaving little room when overtaking them. 

Police Scotland believe that many cyclists are reluctant to cycle on the roads of Edinburgh because drivers are overtaking them too closely. 

A survey carried out in Edinburgh last month indicated that nearly half of cyclists in Edinburgh felt unsafe on the roads in the city.

According to Police Scotland, 398 cyclists have been injured in collisions in Edinburgh in the last two years with 62 of those being seriously injured and one death as a result of a collision with a vehicle. The aim is to make cycling safer on Edinburgh's streets.

The Highway Code states that cyclists should be given at least the same amount of space as a car would be given when overtaking and that drivers should not get too close to the vehicle they intend to overtake.

However, in reality driver's often pass cyclists without giving enough room and leaving less than 1.5 metres space. Giving less space than this could be considered careless or even dangerous driving.

The scheme will see an unmarked Police cyclist, cycling the streets of Edinburgh. Drivers who pass the Police cyclist without leaving enough room, will be stopped and given advice on how much space should be left when passing a cyclist on the road.

The force will be using a specially designed mat to show the minimum space that is needed when passing another car. The police cyclist’s bicycle will also be equipped with a camera to capture evidence of the driver's behaviour.

Although the scheme’s main aim is the education of drivers, there is still a possibility of £100 fine and three penalty points for the worst offenders.

The operation is running together with Cycling Scotland’s Give Everyone Cycle Space campaign.

Operation Close Pass was launched on Telford Road in Edinburgh at the start of this week (Monday 24th April) and has seen a number of drivers pulled over.

The scheme will undoubtedly be welcomed by all cyclists in the capital and time will tell if it is a success and to be rolled out across the rest of Scotland.