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Undercover police officer catch 58 people driving in cyclists’ space across north-east

PC Scott Leslie and Road Policing Sergeant Peter Henderson at the launch of Operation Close Pass at Duthie Park,
PC Scott Leslie and Road Policing Sergeant Peter Henderson at the launch of Operation Close Pass at Duthie Park,

Nearly 60 motorists have been caught driving too close to cyclists after an undercover operation was carried out in the north-east.

A plain-clothes police officer went cycling in five parts of the region wearing a helmet camera, with his colleagues pulling over vehicles which moved too near to him.

Operation Close Pass stopped 58 drivers in the last month, in Bridge of Don, Laurencekirk, Banchory, Elgin and Peterhead.

All those pulled over were shown footage of themselves encroaching on the cyclist’s space on a laptop.

They were then given tips on how to safely overtake cyclists.

A police spokeswoman said: “Motorists, whose driving could have been better, were pulled over and educated using an illustrative mat to demonstrate the desired positioning of their vehicle.

Officers go ‘undercover’ as cyclists in Aberdeen to improve safety for riders

“On some occasions, the footage captured by the cameras was played on a laptop computer, so that drivers could fully understand why they were stopped.”

Sergeant Peter Henderson added: “Operation Close Pass is intended to promote the safe overtaking of cyclists, who are just one group of vulnerable road users.

“The same level of care and consideration should also be applied to horse riders and pedestrians.

“What we want to achieve is a position where all road users show appropriate consideration for each other, so that everyone can complete their journeys safely.

“While not everyone overtook our cyclist in an ideal manner, it is encouraging that over the course of this campaign, none of the driving was of a level which required drivers to be charged with reckless driving.

“We actually saw a lot of good examples in all the locations we visited where drivers sat well back from our cyclist and waited for a suitable gap in the oncoming traffic before moving over on to the other side of the road, leaving plenty of room while overtaking.”

The operation came after national body Cycling Scotland conducted research which found that three-quarters of road users were unaware of the potential punishments for driving too close to cyclists, including a three-point penalty on their licence.

In addition to the penalty points, those caught can be charged under careless driving laws, as well as receive a £100 fine and a criminal conviction.

Rachel Martin of Aberdeen Cycle Forum said: “It’s really great that the police are doing this.

“It has demonstrated not just how dangerous but also just how scary it can be as a cyclist when a car drives too close – cyclists are so vulnerable.

“People need to be educated that cycling is a legitimate form of transport. It’s not just for leisure. It is how many people get to work or school.

“We have a right to space on the road as much as anyone else.”

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