Police officers across Northern Ireland will be taking to the roads on unmarked bicycles, to raise awareness of cycle safety in Belfast today, Thursday 8th June.
Superintendent Gary Busch explained: “During our close-pass operations, which were first trailed in 2017, police officers in plain clothes on unmarked bicycles equipped with cameras, will be supported by police motorcyclists to identify drivers who don’t give cyclists enough room when they pass.
“We have been running local operations, to educate both drivers and cyclists to regard the roads as a shared space, but this is the first time we are adopting a coordinated operation at locations across Northern Ireland on the same day.
“During the operation, the cycle officers wear helmet mounted cameras that capture footage of motorists as they pass by. Where a driver has displayed potentially dangerous driving or has failed to allow a safe or adequate space when passing, the officers’ radio ahead to uniformed motorcycle colleagues who stop the motorist identified and offer the appropriate advice.
“While our primary focus at this early stage is education, where necessary and appropriate, we will consider enforcement action for the most serious examples, including the recently introduced careless driving fixed penalty notice. Motorists will also be offered the opportunity to view the footage captured by the cycle officers so they can fully appreciate what ‘close passing’ is like from the cyclist perspective.
“As a minimum, 1.5m is the accepted safe distance a motorist should allow between their vehicle and a cyclist on the roadway. Unfortunately, many drivers are falling far short of this safety requirement.
“I should however also stress that police officers are also tasked to observe cyclist behaviour and intervene with any cyclist who fails to observe the rules of the road or where a cyclist may need to give greater consideration to the environment around them.
Future plans for the initiative include the provision of training to cycling clubs and the limited provision of cameras to record incidents to be shared with police.
Chairman of Cycling Ulster Tommy McCague added, “All our road users should welcome every safety initiative that attempts to save lives on our busy roads today, the way ahead is learning to share and have consideration for each other. Let’s hope that today can be the start of this.”
Superintendent Busch added, “We all want to make our roads safer, and need to work together to prevent road collisions, fatalities and injuries so let’s each do our part to #sharetheroadtozero.”