Plain-clothes police cyclists target 'too close' drivers

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Media captionCycle police will target risky drivers who get too close

Police officers are taking to their bikes to teach the dangers of driving too close to cyclists.

Plain-clothes officers on cycles will use bike-mounted cameras to catch motorists who get too close for comfort.

Offenders will then be pulled over further along the road and spoken to about their driving.

It comes as a survey found 73% of those asked were not aware the practice could result in three penalty points.

Cycling Scotland, which commissioned the YouGov research, is raising awareness of the risks to cyclists in a new nationwide campaign.

The poll of more than 1,000 Scots found most did not know the potential consequence of failing to leave at least a car's width when passing a bike.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Police will demonstrate the safe passing distance, widely considered to be at least 1.5m (5ft). A similar scheme was successful in West Midlands

The body has received the backing of Police Scotland, which stressed that driving too close is classed as careless driving and is punishable with a minimum penalty of three penalty points and £100 fine.

Cycling Scotland chief executive Keith Irving said: "People who cycle regularly are likely to experience a 'very scary' close pass incident every couple of days and cycling casualties are increasing, in line with cycling's growing popularity.

"Every week in Scotland, at least three people cycling suffer serious, potentially life-changing injuries, usually from a collision with a vehicle.

"Our new TV ad campaign shows how it can feel to be close passed and increases awareness of the legal consequences for people driving too closely to someone cycling."

Image copyright Lenny Warren
Image caption Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson launched the campaign

Police Scotland has meanwhile launched Operation Close Pass to make roads safer for cyclists.

The initiative sees plain-clothes police officers cycling with a camera on their handlebars and another on the back of their bike.

When they are passed too closely by a car, the police cyclist radios details to colleagues further up the road, who pull over the motorist and talk to them about their driving.

The chat takes place by the roadside on a giant mat showing the correct minimum passing distance, usually defined as 1.5 metres (5ft).

If someone is unreceptive to education then they will be cautioned for careless or dangerous driving and receive a court summons.

Insp Andrew Thomson said: "Keeping all road users safe is a key priority for us and this campaign highlights that cyclists are vulnerable when being passed by vehicles too closely.

"Officers from Police Scotland will be working hard to raise awareness of this offence and encourage all road users to use the roads with respect for others."

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