Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Near Miss of the Day 889: Police refuse to act on cyclist’s submission and claim they require the “bike to be visible in the footage” to determine a close pass

“Going forward if we cannot see any part of the reporting parties bike we will now not proceed with these cases,” said Thames Valley Police

Thames Valley Police seem to have a new requirement for assessing close pass submissions by cyclists: the bike needs to be visible in the footage, or else they won't be able to judge if the pass by the driver is a legitimate one or not.

The above close pass was made on cyclist Andrew Edwards on Hambridge Road in Newbury on 13th January this year. However, when he submitted the footage to Thames Valley Police (TVP), the force emailed him saying, "You need to show some part of your bike to assist us with calculating the distance of the vehicle and you in relation to it being close."

"The easiest way for us to prove this is have a part of your handle bar showing and then we are able to make a decision on the course of action, if we could see your bike I would have been happy to offer the driver a driver education course. 

"But as I couldn’t I asked two court presentation officers who prosecute these sort of offences in court and also my senior manager, all were in agreement that as there was no reference to your bike we would not offer a course as this is only an alternative to a court case, therefore on this occasion I will send the driver a written warning.

"You may wish to view the camera when it on your bike to make sure there is a point of your bike showing, if you wish to alter the camera position and send me a screen shot I would be happy to see if it helps our decisions in future."

Obviously, Andrew wasn't the most chuffed at this response. He tried to point out the discrepency in TVP's threshold of taking action by using another submission of his which didn't have his bike visible, as a reference.

Now, this near miss (we know, two NMotDs in one) was recorded by Andrew on 3rd July last year on Kiln Hill in Newbury. He told road.cc: "I got a letter just after the New Year saying that I had reported it in good time, they had sent out a NIP within the necessary time period.

"But then they had failed to proceed with it before it was too late so the driver could not be sent on a training course or have the case go to court so they got a warning letter."

When he pointed this incident to TVP and accused them of being "inconsistent and incompetent", they were swift to reject the matter out of hand, saying: "Going forward if we cannot see any part of the reporting parties bike we will now not proceed with these cases. This will make us more consistent going forward."

Andrew said: "The police said they couldn’t tell if it was a close pass as no part of my bike was visible and my camera could be zoomed 10 metres up the road. The fact that my hand comes into shot doesn't matter, maybe they think I have 10m long arms!"

road.cc reached out to Thames Valley Police for a comment about them requiring a part of a bike being visible in the footage, to which they sent us the following reply:

When determining what action to take on close passes against cyclists, we use the Full Code Test contained within the Code for Crown Prosecutors. This has two stages and both stages of the Full Code Test must be met before we can take action:

1. We must have sufficient reliable evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

2. Any action we take must be in the public interest.

When considering whether a matter meets the public interest test, a number of factors are taken into consideration. One of those factors is whether or not prosecution is a proportionate response to the offending behaviour.

In determining what the most appropriate response may be, we have a range of outcomes we can apply ranging from no further action to a written warning letter, a driver education course and prosecution. Each case is considered on its’ own merits.

In this case, a written warning letter was delivered.

On the matter of close passes we have been conducting an operation in Oxford City Centre over the last two days (31/01 and 01/02) where we have been stopping anyone who was seen to be driving too close to cyclists or in a dangerous manner. In addition to this, we worked alongside Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue to hand out bike lights in the City to cyclists who were not displaying them in the dark evenings. We hope to put out a video regarding our operation over the next week alongside our results.

> Near Miss of the Day turns 100 — Why do we do the feature and what have we learnt from it?

Over the years road.cc has reported on literally hundreds of close passes and near misses involving badly driven vehicles from every corner of the country – so many, in fact, that we’ve decided to turn the phenomenon into a regular feature on the site. One day hopefully we will run out of close passes and near misses to report on, but until that happy day arrives, Near Miss of the Day will keep rolling on.

If you’ve caught on camera a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind with another road user that you’d like to share with the wider cycling community please send it to us at info [at] road.cc or send us a message via the road.cc Facebook page.

If the video is on YouTube, please send us a link, if not we can add any footage you supply to our YouTube channel as an unlisted video (so it won't show up on searches).

Please also let us know whether you contacted the police and if so what their reaction was, as well as the reaction of the vehicle operator if it was a bus, lorry or van with company markings etc.

> What to do if you capture a near miss or close pass (or worse) on camera while cycling

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

Add new comment

55 comments

Avatar
TheAdebo | 4 months ago
1 like

Any excuse not to act. I suspect that is less an anti-cycling issue and more a lack of resources. But come on, it is clear that is a close pass. Clearly highlighted by the distance the next car passes at. This provides a relative guide by which to judge the distance.

Avatar
wtjs | 4 months ago
1 like

I got a letter just after the New Year saying that I had reported it in good time, they had sent out a NIP within the necessary time period. But then they had failed to proceed with it before it was too late so the driver could not be sent on a training course or have the case go to court so they got a warning letter

A NIP is not an outcome- it's just a dodge to convince people that action has been taken. I think this is how most NIPs end up. Different forces, different dodges. TVP has just invented a new one, and when people comply with the new rule they will just think of another dodge, such as 'we must have rear facing footage as well' and eventually 'we must have overhead drone footage'. They would bin this immediately, then, just like Lancashire Constabulary did:

https://upride.cc/incident/yn67mvj_sainsburys44tonner_closepass/

Avatar
tootsie323 | 4 months ago
0 likes

Clearly there is no way of knowing whether the camera is attached to the bike frame / hamndlebars or whether it is mounted on the end of a 1.5m trailing arm attached to a bracket...

Avatar
Oldfatgit | 4 months ago
5 likes

Guess I might go back to mounting the front camera back on the offside fork then.

You get a the front leading edge of the wheel in shot, plus the view through your spokes to the nearside.

Hangon ... I'm in Scotland, so it doesn't matter what I do as it won't get followed up on anyway.

Avatar
Midgex | 4 months ago
0 likes

Sorry, that's clear and sensible.

Approach it backwards from arguing in court where the camera is, and what the distance is.

So, mount it where part of the bike is visible. If you cared to put a distance gauge, a pair of dots even, on that part, that might help.

It may be worth noting that ultrasonic distance measures are cheap, and a future camera could have one looking sideways. It might cause car sensors to beep at the driver, but I expect everyone would get over that.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Midgex | 4 months ago
6 likes

Midgex wrote:

Sorry, that's clear and sensible.

No it's not, many tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of submissions have been accepted by police forces around the country where the bike isn't visible; these have led to many drivers being given a course or points and a fine without them disputing the evidence. "Sensible" would be saying that most people mount their camera in the middle of the bars, so even with the widest bars the furthest away from the point of the bicycle nearest the car the camera will be is about 30cm. If in doubt the police could just ask for a picture of the camera setup to accompany the video. In a pass like the one above the position of the camera is totally irrelevant anyway, it can clearly be seen that the van is entirely within the lane at all times (otherwise it would hit the oncoming traffic), the van is a Ford Transit which is a minimum of 210 cm wide (240 cm including mirrors), the cyclist will be at least 60 cm wide, so unless the lane is 450 cm wide it is physically impossible for the pass to have been outside 150cm. Furthermore it can be seen fom the video, regardless of where the camera is, that the van is never more than a metre off the kerb, meaning it must have passed the cyclist within 50cm at most.

The only thing "clear" is that TVP are making ridiculous excuses to avoid taking action when an obvious offence has been committed.

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
3 likes

I think the Ford Transit is the example that TVP did prosecute. It's the Saab that they wouldn't prosecute, due to no part of the bike being visible.

TVP are being overly cautious with the evidential burden of proof. All the court needs is evidence that is 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

It is possible that a longer lens would show a pass to be closer than it was in reality. An example below of two views of the same pass (that wasn't close, but the driver did cut in a bit too soon as they chose to overtake on a bend over double whites with an oncoming van). Having part of the bike in the frame takes away that marginal doubt, but it does seem like a bit of an excuse not to prosecute in this case.

What the problem seems to be, is the amount of resources put into these prosecutions costs more than the fine. I think this is unreasonable, these things need to pay for themselves. The police should be able to cover the cost of prosecutions with funds generated by fines (with any excess going to fund improvements in road safety). If parking enforcement companies can make the maths work for a civil claim, then surely the same can be done for criminal activity.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to HoarseMann | 4 months ago
1 like

Ah my mistake - though everything I said applies to both, really.

Avatar
OldRidgeback | 4 months ago
5 likes

What a load of rubbish. You have to be pretty thick not to be able to tell that's way too close. 

Avatar
miekwidnes | 4 months ago
1 like

Well I suppose they could claim that unless they can see the handlebars then they cannot tell how wide the bike is

I mean you could have a road bike with very narrow bars

or have a hybrid one with very wide bars

so the outside of the bike is not known so they can't provide a proper measurement

 

which is rubbish because it is possible to assume a normal bike and work it out from that

most bars are actually narrower than the rider's shoulders anyway or close to it

 

Avatar
BalladOfStruth replied to miekwidnes | 4 months ago
4 likes

miekwidnes wrote:

Well I suppose they could claim that unless they can see the handlebars then they cannot tell how wide the bike is

I'm sure that's exactly what their argument is - which is still bollocks, because even if the camera was fixed to the left-most tip of the widest downhill MTB flat bars you can get, that pass was still way within 1.5m of the camera. In reality, that would have probably brushed the rider's shoulder. 
 

Disgraceful response from the Police. 

Avatar
mctrials23 | 4 months ago
6 likes

I would be making an offical complaint about this. That pass is so close that I would bet a lot of money on the driver not even being 1.5m from the curb, let alone the cyclist. 

Avatar
ubercurmudgeon | 4 months ago
9 likes

I can see TVP's point. For all they know, the cyclist could be a visitor from Edwin Abbott Abbott's satirical novella Flatland, a world with only two spatial dimensions that is populated by sentient geometric shapes. In which case, the driver would've been giving them plenty of space.

Avatar
HarrogateSpa | 4 months ago
9 likes

If a police force would rather do nothing, it will never run out of excuses to justify its failure. See also North Yorkshire Police.

Avatar
OldRidgeback replied to HarrogateSpa | 4 months ago
2 likes

Or Police Scotland.

Avatar
eburtthebike | 4 months ago
7 likes

"Going forward if we cannot see any part of the reporting parties bike we will now not proceed with these cases. This will make us more consistent going forward."

No: going backwards.

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
10 likes

Quote:

"Going forward if we cannot see any part of the reporting parties bike we will now not proceed with these cases. This will make us more consistent going forward."

The use of the atrocious footy-speak "going forward" (what's wrong with "in the future"?), not once but twice in two sentences, is bad enough, when it's coupled with the use of the plural of party instead of the singular possessive...well, hanging's too good for 'em.

Avatar
HoarseMann | 4 months ago
1 like

I'm seriously considering strapping a laser distance measuring device to my rear rack, in camera shot, to give a fairly accurate measure of passing distance.

Would need be a unit (like this one) with a continous mode.

More out of curiosity than anything else, but it would surely help with evidencing.

Avatar
mattw replied to HoarseMann | 4 months ago
0 likes

Problem would perhaps be synchronisation.

Have you thought about emailing Dr Ian Walker about the setup he used when cycling around in his blonde wig measuring passing distances?

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to HoarseMann | 4 months ago
1 like

HoarseMann wrote:

More out of curiosity than anything else, but it would surely help with evidencing.

I doubt the police would take account of any evidence provided in this way, they certainly don't (at least the Met don't, I've asked/offered) with indications of rider speed overlaid from a Garmin, on the basis that only certified calibrated devices (i.e. only police/speed camera company ones) are admissible legal evidence.

Avatar
Sriracha replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
6 likes

So the only sure measure would be a sharp-tipped calibrated length of piano wire projecting perpendicularly sideways. As a bonus, the length of the scratch in the car's flank would indicate the duration of the motorists incursion. Just be careful whilst filtering...

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
0 likes

Calibration is required for FPN speed offences, but if it goes to court, then other measures of speed can be used - such as time/distance calculations from video footage, even though the cameras frame rate is not calibrated.

Adding a Garmin overlay is considered editing of the video after the event, so would not be appropriate (tampering with evidence). However any overlay applied in real time during the recording would probably be ok (as the Garmin Varia camera does).

I could always get it calibrated by a 3rd party testing house!

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to HoarseMann | 4 months ago
1 like

Dr Ian Walker used an ultrasonic measuring machine:

https://drianwalker.com/overtaking/

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to eburtthebike | 4 months ago
0 likes

eburtthebike wrote:

Dr Ian Walker used an ultrasonic measuring machine:

https://drianwalker.com/overtaking/

Yes, an acoustic proximity sensor (as used for parking sensors) works well for these short distances. However, a home-brew Arduino based system is less likely to be useful for evidence than an unmodified commercially available device (especially if it's been calibrated).

Avatar
NOtotheEU | 4 months ago
12 likes

"Any action we take must be in the public interest"

As we all know, the (driving) public has very little interest in the safety of cyclists so I guess I can see their point.

Avatar
anagallis_arvensis | 4 months ago
16 likes

Those are my videos, what I find especially frustrating is that I submit the videos as a way to close the incidents off in my mind and avoid getting angry at the time. The complete lack of any action by TVP doesn't help this. Previously I've been actually hit and they still only sent a warning letter

Avatar
fenix replied to anagallis_arvensis | 4 months ago
11 likes

That's rubbish. I sent a similar incident to North Wales Police on Monday and they'd taken action over it on Tuesday.

There's clearly not 1.5 M between the kerb and the overtaking car so there's no way it's a safe pass.

Avatar
mctrials23 replied to fenix | 4 months ago
5 likes

Exactly. The police use common sense every day in road traffic accidents to work out how fast people were going without being able to see their speedos etc. 

This is just bullshit. If you are less than 1.5m from the curb then there is a 0% chance that when you overtake a cyclist you magically are. 

Avatar
roadeo_123 replied to mctrials23 | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Exactly this. But you need to be fiurther. If my wheels are 50 cm from the kerb then 2m from the kerb is 1.5m from my wheels, which cannot be 1.5m from my offside. 

Avatar
HarrogateSpa replied to anagallis_arvensis | 4 months ago
3 likes

Same in North Yorkshire.

Videos and reporting helps me stay calm, but North Yorkshire Police are hopelessly inconsistent. Most of the time they just don't want to do the work.

Pages

Latest Comments