This week, Avon and Somerset Police are supporting the NPCC’s (National Police Chief’s Council) ‘2Wheels Campaign’ to raise awareness of the dangers faced by cyclists and motorcyclists.
The force has issued cameras to both uniformed and plain-clothed police officers on bikes to target areas where cyclists are put in danger. Drivers passing unsafely will be caught on camera and issued with either an educational letter or a notice of intended prosecution, depending on the nature of the incident.
Avon and Somerset Police will compliment this with full ‘Close Pass’ operations over the coming months. Plain-clothed officers on bikes are equipped with video cameras to target drivers carrying out dangerous manoeuvres around them. Drivers are stopped and then offered roadside education or, in the most serious cases, reported for an offence which could lead to six points on their licence and a £200 fine.
Figures from Avon and Somerset Police show that a third of all reported road traffic collisions in 2018 involved a cyclist or motorcyclist.
There were a total of 2,707 injury collisions recorded by the force, of which 879 involved a road user on two wheels.
The force is teaming up with Rolls Royce to carry out their next Close Pass operation at their HQ in Filton on Tuesday 21st May.
Ben von Bertele, Rolls Royce’s Bike Users Group chair, said: “For Rolls-Royce, our employees are our most important resource, and making sure they can both get to work, and get home each day safely is a major priority.
Ensuring they can cycle is key to keeping them healthy and happy, and we therefore work closely with the local police and council to ensure that the roads around our Bristol site are as safe as they can be.
We always encourage our cyclists to log any close passes with the police, and think the close pass operation is a brilliant tool for driver education, and we look forward to seeing the impact it has.”
Avon and Somerset Police is also using the 2Wheels Campaign to highlight the importance of road users reporting incidents of near misses online, in order help get a clearer picture of what’s going on and identifying if there is a need for some targeted work to be done to prevent a serious collision happening.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “We want to continue to make the roads safer for all road users as there are still too many serious incidents that involve motorcyclists and cyclists happening on our roads. This important campaign will help educate drivers about the dangers our cyclists and motorcyclists face every day and the precautions we all need to take.”
Duncan is 40 years old and lives in Portishead. He was cycling his usual commute home from Bristol last June when he was knocked down by a car. The driver followed another car overtaking Duncan, and unfortunately there wasn’t enough space and time to get around him. To avoid a head on collision with another driver, he pulled in sharply, running Duncan down.
Duncan said: “The first time I saw the remains of my bike, I cried. The realisation hit me hard on how serious my collision was. I kept having flashbacks and intrusive thoughts, and it stopped me sleeping. Over time my memory came back. I was reminded of the initial violent bang from the impact of being hit by the car, and then later being in the road in and out of consciousness, with someone trying to move me and paramedics trying to talk to me. That feeling of being frozen would overcome me night after night.”
He added: “Doctors told me afterwards I was very lucky to be alive. The day I came home from the hospital and first saw my children was very emotional, and I held them tightly.”
PC Purchase was the first response officer to arrive on the scene that day. He said: “I can remember the shift well. It was a really nice day weather-wise and it was quite busy.
“When the call came through, my first thoughts were how serious the injuries were. Any collision involving a car and cyclist is a worry for us. The A369 is a well-known stretch of road with lots of people commuting between Bristol, and at this time of day the roads would be busy. “
“When we came off the motorway, we were in a lot of queuing traffic and it felt like it took us forever to make our way through it all. The first thing I remember seeing was what was left of the push bike. It was broken up into lots of pieces. Luckily, Duncan’s injuries weren’t as bad as they could have been,” he added.
“There wasn’t really anything else Duncan could’ve done that day to prevent him getting caught up in a collision. He took cycling very seriously and the route was one he took regularly so he was confident in his bike-handling skills. Wearing a helmet and high visibility clothing, he could be easily seen, but unfortunately the driver misjudged the time and space they needed to overtake Duncan safely.”
Road Safety Officer for Avon and Somerset Police, Damien Devanny, said: “Part of my role is to work closely with data in order to help identify risk in advance. Our online near miss tool received 437 reports from cyclists in 2018 and, along with collision data, this helps us to better target our education and enforcement activity. Every near miss is a potential incident and we want to make the roads safer for all road users. We’d like to use this campaign as an opportunity to remind all road users to report near misses.
“There is enough space for everyone and Duncan’s story is just one example of how, had the driver just waited until he had a safe opportunity to overtake, then things could have turned out a lot differently.”
Avon and Somerset Police has the following advice for road users:
Think about your arm span - Close passes are not only really intimidating, but also dangerous. If you’re in a vehicle, passing too close to cyclists is a contributory factor in too many serious collisions between cyclists and larger vehicles. Motorists should leave 1.5 metres when they overtake. Struggling to remember the distance? It’s slightly less than the arm span of an average adult.
Get to grips with defensive riding – Adopting defensive riding techniques can help those on two wheels safeguard themselves against other road users’ error and reduce the chances of a collision. Make yourself visible with high-visibility clothing and position yourself on the safest part of the road to make yourself more visible to other road users. Reducing speed enables riders to see round bends and stop more easily if necessary.
Report incidences of near misses online – So we can get a clearer picture of what’s going on and identifying if there is a need for some targeted work to be done to prevent a serious collision happening. Any road user can report a near miss and upload dashcam footage (where there has been a potential road offence) on our website here: www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/nearmiss
Posted on Wednesday 15th May 2019