Rules for motorists overtaking cyclists are now under review, with some parts of the UK introducing penalties for those who drive too closely.
The Department for Transport are currently investigating new road rules, with the minimum distance for overtaking cyclists currently being considered.
After the Department for Transport (DfT) announced a call for evidence on cycling and funding for three bike safety projects, it was revealed that motorists and cyclists could soon face new road rules.
One of the proposals currently under review by the DfT is the introduction of a minimum distance for cars when overtaking cyclists, which has been proposed in a bid to improve safety for cyclists on the roads.
It is believed that more than 100 cyclists are killed and more than 3,000 seriously injured on British roads every year, the majority of these incidents involving motorists.
Statistics released by the DfT in 2016, showed that a total of 102 cyclists died on Britain’s roads that year, with 3,397 reported serious injuries.
A total of 18,477 cycling injuries were reported with minor injuries added to the figures for deaths and serious injuries.
In March this year, Cycling Minister Jesse Norman announced that he has awarded £100,000 of seed funding to 3 innovative cycling safety projects.
Mr Norman said: “We are determined to make cycling safer and easier across the country, and we are continuing to invest”.
This announcement came as part of a report published by the DfT which recommended that there is a case for a new offence to be introduced to tackle dangerous cycling.
This follows a multi-million pound government funding boost for cycle safety in February this year.
The current rules for motorists
The Highway Code currently states:
Give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.
When passing motorcyclists and cyclists, give them plenty of room (see Rules 162 to 167). If they look over their shoulder it could mean that they intend to pull out, turn right or change direction. Give them time and space to do so.
Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.
Procedures currently in place
In March this year Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit launched ‘Operation Velo’, a new safety operation aimed at reducing the number of collisions involving cyclists on the county’s roads.
Plain clothed police officers will be identifying drivers of vehicles who do not adopt a ‘safe pass’ approach and when they spot this, a police officer then escorts the vehicle to a check point where education will be given around the optimum distance to pass a cycle – 1.5m – with consideration given to the appropriateness of the road environment and speed taken.
In some cases motorists could be prosecuted for careless or inconsiderate driving and face a fine of £100 and three points on their licence.
Another similar initiative is ‘Close Pass’, which is also intended to improve the safety of cyclists on the road by educating drivers on how to overtake them safely, and was launched in Plymouth in July 2017.
During a Close Pass deployment volunteer police officers in cycling clothes take to the road on bicycles fitted with cameras to the front and rear, which record the behaviour of drivers who overtake them.
If offences have taken place, the officer radios colleagues further down the road to direct the offending vehicle into a stop site.
The driver will be offered roadside education using a specially designed mat which illustrates the safe passing distance when overtaking a cyclist.
Anyone refusing this roadside education will receive a fixed penalty notice of £100 and three points on their licence for the offence of ‘driving a vehicle without reasonable consideration of others’.
With the safety of cyclists on roads now under review and new initiatives in place around certain parts of the UK, motorists are now being encouraged to think about and adapt their overtaking distance, or risk facing fines, prosecution or points on their license.