South Yorkshire Police response to our request to adopt a ‘close pass’ initiative

Do South Yorkshire Police intend to run a ‘close pass’ initiative to improve the safety of cyclists, similar to the one that West Midlands Police and other forces are now doing?

We  submitted the question to the Police and Crime Panel via Councillor Joe Otten. We also met the assistant Police and Crime Commissioner and discussed whether South Yorkshire Police (SYP) could adopt a ‘close pass initiative’.

If you are not familiar with the the ‘close pass’ initiative  run by  West Midlands Police you can read about it here.

West Midlands Police road policing blog has more detailed information and explanation for the adoption of this initiative.

SYP written response:

I am aware of this scheme and only a couple of weeks ago, the Assistant PCC, Sioned-Mair Richards attended a meeting with representatives of Sheffield Cycle groups as well as the city council about this.

Key roads are targeted and police cyclists ride the road. If someone drives too close to them then colleagues, including someone from the local authority waiting ahead are notified and the offending vehicle is stopped and either prosecuted or given education input. A similar scheme is run in Humberside – Operation Achilles applies the same principles except for motorbikes. The educational input is delivered by a local authority representative using an educational mat. The cost of this mat is approximately £900.

Chief Inspector Glen Suttenwood has provided me with the statistics from the Safer Roads Partnership concerning collisions involving cyclists in South Yorkshire:-

CRASH CJU CJU
PEDAL CYCLE 2016 2015 2014
FATAL 1 1 1
SERIOUS 52 45 56
SLIGHT 200 258 275

Clearly one death per year is one too many, however, deaths involving cyclists in South Yorkshire are no where near the levels that they are in the West Midlands or other parts of the country.  Whilst it is clear that the scheme has been well received in the West Midlands and is a good approach to tackling a key priority, this needs to be balanced against priorities that are force specific. The main cohorts in relation to road deaths or serious injuries in South Yorkshire are centred on pedestrians and car users – drivers or passengers – where SYP have seen a continual rise over the past 2 years. That said, West Midlands Police are hosting a workshop in Birmingham on 13 January and officers from SYP are looking to attend.

In addition to this, given the challenging demand that the police service is currently facing as a result of austerity, resources are carefully deployed to target specific activity. I understand South Yorkshire Police are not aware of any specific location (s) that is prominent for pedal cyclist Road Traffic Collisions. Neither, have any officers who are trained and equipped in the use of pedal cycles brought any concerns to the attention of Chief Inspector Suttenwood.

Enforcement should probably be used as a last resort to improve road safety, the most sensible solution would be to look at addressing the root causes of the problem – one of which is the layout of the roads. By creating segregated or shared cycle/pedestrian routes, improving lighting, awareness and signage, cyclists can use the roads with the confidence that they are safe to do. Some of this is being progressed in the county already:-

Sheffield 

  • Next development at Meadowhall, segregated cycle route.
  • The new Ikea is to have cycle routes and crossings to it, as is the upcoming Charter Square improvements.
  • The Connect 2 route is a fairly recent cycle route between Halfway and Killamarsh mainly segregated from traffic.

Rotherham

  • Centenary Way and Canklow roundabout have all recently been upgraded to cater for cyclists. A cycle route has been created on the Waverley development to a Highfield Springs.

Doncaster

  • A number of crossings have been converted to Toucan crossings along with a new one on Leger Way to link the Bawtry Rd commuter route to town. Also a new cycle lane on Bennethorpe.

Barnsley

  • A cycle to work route has been built to service the large Asos factory at Grimethorpe.
  • Also a new route is being built currently from the Trans Pennine Trail at Pontefract Rd into the town centre.

Whilst naturally, all force areas will see a decline in cyclists on the roads during the winter, I understand Chief Inspector Suttenwood is discussing the prospect of delivering some educational workshops in schools for future drivers and cyclists with local LPTS during Spring 2017 following attendance at West Midland Police’s workshop.

10 thoughts on “South Yorkshire Police response to our request to adopt a ‘close pass’ initiative

  1. Sounds like dodging the problem. Anyone who commutes on a regular basis sees the risks particularly this time of year. You are guaranteed a driver to “not see you” warranting heaving breaking and avoidance tactics. The main routes are understood where cycle traffic is heaviest, City road, London road, Abbeydale road for example (where I was recently nearly run over by a woman using 3 mobiles phones! – no joke. And no action was taken with the woman). When a taxi driver ran me over, no action was taken. Even more remarkably, when I was shot with an air rifle (twice) from a moving car the little tykes got some sort of warning linked to the vehicle! If this was Lincolnshire the swat team would have been out. The west midland solution could be used on the roads above no problem. It’s just a case of being interested, and the response above shows none.

  2. I suspect there are relatively few KSIs involving cyclists in SY because the roads are so hostile that hardly anyone dare cycle there. I have a 14 mile each way commute and I’m pretty much guaranteed at least one and sometimes four or five close passes. I think SYPs solution to the danger to cyclists is to discourage them from daring to go on the roads.

    1. Hi Karl, SYP are correct when they say that there are less cyclists killed or seriously injured in South Yorkshire than the West Midlands.

      However, the population in the West Midlands is significantly larger and if you look at the cyclist KSI rate per 100,000 people then South Yorkshire is worse than the West Midlands.

      3.58 per 100,000 a year for 2014 and 2015 in WM, 3.71 per 100,000 a year for 2014 and 2015 in SY.

      The real problem is that SYP seem to think enforcement should be a last resort – unlike WMP who believe it is the most effective option to protect more vulnerable road users.

  3. I agree. We met the asst. PCC who seemed interested and positive about running it. She was keen to get some SYP officers to attend WMP workshop in January. Hopefully they will do so and it will change their minds.

  4. I have had a positive response from the PCC implying that the attenders at this workshop are doing so with a view to implementing a pilot scheme in Sheffield.

    1. That is good news! Did you correspond via email? I can update the article with the PCC response if you want to share it.

      1. Well, it was a personal email and I’m wary of getting responses to individual questions and then publishing them publicly. Perhaps CycleSheffield should approach the PCC and ask if he’s willing to provide an update from his perspective.

      2. Fair enough – I think the workshop is today so we’ll wait to hear what SYP have to say about it – they did attend.

  5. I think it is good that SYP have been approached but they take no action even when told of near miss situations. I have recently been nearly knocked off on the stretch between Oughtibridge and Middlewood when I confronted the driver who had a phone in his hand at the time he just laughed and drove off spraying me with windscreen washer fluid which he seemed to think was hilarious.

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