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Video shows shock ‘close pass’ – driver latest prosecuted in WMP cycle safety scheme

West Midlands Police have issued shock footage of a speeding driver coming within inches of sending a cyclist flying as he tore along a Birmingham road – and became the latest motorist prosecuted under the force’s celebrated Close Pass safety scheme.

The Jaguar driver – a Birmingham doctor on his commute to work – was just 10cms from the cyclist when he flew past at nearly 50mph in a 30-zone along Harborne Road.

Body-cam footage provided by the biker was used by the Road Harm Reduction Team to prosecute the 33-year-old for driving without due care and attention.

He admitted the offence – at 7.30am on 5 October – and at Birmingham Magistrates Court on Monday (26 Feb) was handed fines and costs totalling £265 and given three points on his licence.

West Midlands Police launched #OpClosePass 18 months ago and sees plain clothes cops pedalling busy roads on the lookout for motorists who pass too close for comfort.

But in addition to pulling over dodgy drivers – offering road-side educational inputs to many and taking the most serious offenders to court – the force has prosecuted more than 400 motorists using video footage provided by the public.

The cycle safety campaign has coincided with a 20 per cent drop in the number of cyclists killed or seriously hurt on the region’s roads.

PC Mark Hodson, from West Midlands Police’s Force Traffic Unit, said the latest prosecution should act as a warning to any motorist who endangers vulnerable road users.

Here's how much space you need to give cyclists
Here's how much space you need to give cyclists

He said: “This was a shocking example of a hazardous close pass and in one manoeuvre the driver has committed offences that would fail a driving test: endangering the cyclist, speeding and undertaking other vehicles. 

“We assessed he came less than 10cms from the bike’s handlebars. That alone could have caused the cyclist to fall off, and potentially been seriously hurt, but had he clipped the bike it could have had fatal consequences.

“He initially denied being at fault and opted for a court trial instead of accepting a fine or drive improvement course – but his excuses were rubbished by the video evidence and he later changed his plea to guilty.

“We’ve prosecuted hundreds of inconsiderate motorists thanks to video evidence provided by road users and I expect that figure to surpass 1,000 later this year.

“Drivers who endanger vulnerable road users need to understand that we run operations to catch them – and if they avoid our officers we can still prosecute them using footage provided by cyclists and other motorists.”

And PC Hodson said he’s confident the close pass message is getting through to drivers.

He added: “Cycling groups are telling us that, on the whole, motorists are becoming more considerate and understand we will prosecute them if they endanger our members.

“We’ve seen reports of close-passes halve in the West Midlands since we started the project and the number of cyclists seriously hurt in collisions fall by a fifth – that’s incredible against a backdrop of increasing numbers of people cycling on our roads.”

Several other police forces across the UK have since adopted the close pass scheme and up to 30 are considering following suit.

West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson added: “I am extremely proud of West Midlands Police’s pioneering close pass scheme; we must have mutual respect on the roads and it is vital cyclists are afforded the same rights and protection as any other road user.

“As a former Transport Minister, I understand the importance of road safety and made it a top priority in my Police and Crime Plan. This is outstanding work by West Midlands Police, who are bucking the national trend by reducing cycle deaths on our roads.”
 

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