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Government focus on cycling awareness and training

Posted on in Cycles News , Political News

Driving instructors to receive bespoke training and police set to crackdown on ‘close passing' in new UK initiative.

Driving instructors will be offered bespoke training to ensure cyclists' safety is at the forefront of their minds when they teach new drivers, in a pilot initiative launched by Cycling Minister Jesse Norman.

The government is also launching a new UK-wide initiative to help the police crackdown on the dangerous practice of ‘close passing'. This will include providing training materials and support for police forces to ensure drivers are aware of safe distances when overtaking cyclists.

bike pathSpeaking at the Cycle City Active City conference in Manchester, Cycling Minister Jesse Norman said: "The benefits of cycling and walking are enormous. For people, it means cheaper travel and better health. For businesses, it means increased productivity and increased footfall in shops, and for society as a whole it means lower congestion, better air quality, and vibrant, attractive places.

"But we will only achieve our ambitious aims if people feel safe when they walk and cycle.

"We shouldn't only concentrate on catching and punishing drivers when they make a mistake, but try to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to drive safely alongside cyclists in all conditions."

Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK, said: "Cycling UK has long argued that driver training and testing processes should ensure that drivers are made aware of and understand both cyclists' needs and their safety. Training the trainers, and embedding cyclists' safety in the mindset of driving instructors, is a fantastic first step towards achieving this.

"But education and awareness on its own is not enough, which is why close pass operations by police forces have proved so effective in places like the West Midlands. It's great that there's now a commitment to make additional government resources available to help the police crackdown on close passing.

"Cycling UK look forward to working with the Department for Transport, as we have with willing police forces, to try to make sure this initiative helps lead to close pass policing being the norm, not the exception."

PC Mark Hodson, from West Midlands Police's Road Harm Reduction Unit, said: "Cycling groups are telling us that, on the whole, motorists are becoming more considerate and understand we will prosecute them if they endanger vulnerable road users. 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.

"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."

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