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Another award for West Midlands Police's close pass initiative

Chris Boardman presented officers behind campaign an award on behalf of Cycling UK earlier this month

Cycling UK have presented the officers behind West Midlands Police’s much praised close pass operation with an award recognising their contribution to making the UK’s roads safer for cyclists.

Since it was launched in September last year, the initiative has been adopted by other forces across the country, although some – including, as we reported last week, Cambridgeshire Constabulary – have refused to take it up.

The operation has been credited with reducing the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on West Midlands roads by 20 per cent since it was introduced.

It sees plain-clothes officers deployed on bikes equipped with cameras, who radio ahead to uniformed colleagues who pull over offending motorists and educate them about safe passing distances.

The worst cases of poor driving result in prosecution – 13 have been brought – or on-the-spot fines, of which around 350 were issued.

The award PC Mark Hodson and PC Steve Hudson was presented by British Cycling policy advisor and Greater Manchester Cycling & Walking Commissioner Chris Boardman earlier this month at Cycling UK’s annual Big Bike Celebration in Birmingham.

Volunteers with Cycling UK were also recognised at the event, and Boardman said it was “great to see a room full of so many people directly on the ground enabling people to enjoy bikes. Inspirational.”

PC Hudson said: “We’re very humbled by the award, but won’t be resting on our laurels. The 20% reduction in casualties among people cycling and walking as a consequence of Operation Close Pass just gives greater motivation to continue our work.

“It’s been a team effort, not just involving the police but also the fire services and council. Mark and I are now working on improving and spreading the campaign as far and wide across the West Mids’ as possible.”

Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Cycling UK, commented: “It’s hard to think of two officers who have done more to help raise awareness on how to drive safely around people cycling, or who have done it with such passion.

“Steve and Mark identified the problem of close passing on their patch and came up with a simple and effective operation which reduced reported close passes by half overnight. In a single year, their methods have seen a reduction in road casualties by 20%, and are now being studied and emulated across the UK and overseas.

“In fact, the term ‘West Midlands Police’ is now almost a byword for best policing practice among cycling circles,” he added.

It’s not the first time the campaign has received official recognition – last year, it received an award from the Road Danger Reduction Forum at a ceremony at the Palace of Westminster.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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9 comments

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RMurphy195 | 6 years ago
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Wet Mercia police please note

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Dnnnnnn | 6 years ago
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Good news, and good that it's being publicised. I hope it gets plenty coverage in the non-cycling media too - far more drivers will be aware of it that way than encountering it on the road. 

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Bikebikebike | 6 years ago
2 likes

Was going to write something cynical about the police, but actually in this case they are totally right. Well done coppers. 

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Morgoth985 | 6 years ago
1 like

Burt will tell me if I'm wrong, but I read his initial comment as contrasting the two organisations, not criticising CB specifically, who has indeed done good work but hasn't been in post that long.  Is that right?

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Argos74 | 6 years ago
9 likes

Chapeau West Mids Police, and PC Hodson & Hudson in particular! Doing some great work, and with style and humour.

Other police forces take note. If you stop behaving like dicks, we can be remarkably pleasant.

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burtthebike | 6 years ago
2 likes

Well done Cycling UK for highlighting and rewarding people who actively improve things for cyclists, and only slightly ironic that it was presented by Chris Boardman of BCC, which is far less active in that area.

It is far too easy to criticise those who make cycling more difficult and dangerous, and no shortage of targets, so we have to balance things out by showing appreciation to those doing such good work, so that they know we support them.  Besided, being negative all the time gets to be a rut that can be difficult to climb out of.

Keep up the good work Cycling UK.

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tonyleatham replied to burtthebike | 6 years ago
3 likes
burtthebike wrote:

Well done Cycling UK for highlighting and rewarding people who actively improve things for cyclists, and only slightly ironic that it was presented by Chris Boardman of BCC, which is far less active in that area.

It is far too easy to criticise those who make cycling more difficult and dangerous, and no shortage of targets, so we have to balance things out by showing appreciation to those doing such good work, so that they know we support them.  Besided, being negative all the time gets to be a rut that can be difficult to climb out of.

Keep up the good work Cycling UK.

I guess you haven't followed Chris's career closely then?

Avatar
maviczap replied to burtthebike | 6 years ago
1 like
burtthebike wrote:

Well done Cycling UK for highlighting and rewarding people who actively improve things for cyclists, and only slightly ironic that it was presented by Chris Boardman of BCC, which is far less active in that area.

It is far too easy to criticise those who make cycling more difficult and dangerous, and no shortage of targets, so we have to balance things out by showing appreciation to those doing such good work, so that they know we support them.  Besided, being negative all the time gets to be a rut that can be difficult to climb out of.

Keep up the good work Cycling UK.

Guess you haven't been following who championed West Midlands initiative and pushed it toward on many platforms?

Think his initials were CB?

Avatar
burtthebike replied to maviczap | 6 years ago
3 likes
maviczap wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

Well done Cycling UK for highlighting and rewarding people who actively improve things for cyclists, and only slightly ironic that it was presented by Chris Boardman of BCC, which is far less active in that area.

It is far too easy to criticise those who make cycling more difficult and dangerous, and no shortage of targets, so we have to balance things out by showing appreciation to those doing such good work, so that they know we support them.  Besided, being negative all the time gets to be a rut that can be difficult to climb out of.

Keep up the good work Cycling UK.

Guess you haven't been following who championed West Midlands initiative and pushed it toward on many platforms?

Think his initials were CB?

But it is CUK which has just given them this award, and if you compare the records of the two organisations, it's CUK which has a much higher profile of fighting for cyclists' rights than BCC, and CBs stance on safe cycling is frequently at odds with that of BCC e.g. helmets, and much more in line with that of CUK.

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