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  1. ITV Report

Undercover operation to catch drivers too close to cyclists praised

An initiative to protect cyclists from dangerous overtaking has been praised, after reducing the amount of cyclists killed or seriously injured on the roads by 20% over the last year.

Operation 'Close Pass' was devised by West Midlands Police as a low cost way of preventing accidents caused by motorists who are driving too close for comfort.

They were the first force in the country to use undercover officers, dressed in plain clothes to be on the look out for dangerous activity.

Dashcam and helmet footage from the public has also been passed onto officers to help convict the worst offenders.

Since the operation began in 2016:

20%
reduction in cyclists killed or seriously injured on the roads.
178
drivers pulled over and given a lesson in safe overtaking.
>350
prosecutions made using footage given to them by the public.

Police cyclists will radio the details of 'close-pass' drivers for colleagues in a police car to pull over at a designated holding point.

The operation has now become a joint partnership with West Midlands Fire Service, who carry out the roadside education for those who choose it.

Birmingham Cycle Revolution, a council run scheme, has also paid for the mat used to show people the safe distance to pass (1.5 metres).

The national cycling charity Cycling UK have called it the “best cyclist road safety initiative ever”.

We've seen a significant change in driver behaviour across the region as a result of the operation and the campaign...hopefully that's going to have a profound impact on the amount of people we have killed or seriously injured on our roads in the coming years.

– PC Mark Hodson, West Midlands Police
Between 2010 and 2014 there were 530 incidents in the West Midlands involving bicycles. Credit: ITV News Central

Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire Police have run similar operations over the summer to educate drivers and cyclists on safe distances.

West Midlands Police have also invited 26 other forces from across the UK to attend a seminar to find out if it's something they could replicate.

Officers are hoping this will make sure fatal incidents on the roads, caused by drivers taking these risks, can be avoided in the future.