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

57 comments

Avatar
roadeo_123 replied to mctrials23 | 2 months 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 | 5 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.

Avatar
Bungle_52 replied to anagallis_arvensis | 5 months ago
2 likes

OK this is terrible policing but now they have given you this guidance you can act on it. It's not difficult to get the front wheel in the shot and it has been suggested in the past to include a still with a measured 1.5m visible in front of the bike for reference in your submission.

I suspect they've cocked up and are looking for excuses but it could be that the prosecutor has genuiniely experienced this defence in court. There seems to be no end to the gullibility of judges, magistrates and juries where motoring offences are concerned. No point in antagonising the police in my opinion, we need them on our side.

On the plus side they have given you feedback and a warning letter was sent. Some of us would call this a good result.

PS. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to submit on behalf of us all. I think things are improving but it will be a long uphill struggle to get to where we need to be.

Avatar
wtjs replied to Bungle_52 | 5 months ago
0 likes

they have given you feedback and a warning letter was sent

The OP called it a warning letter- I strongly suspect the police referred to it as an advice letter. That's the way the police view it- advice which you can accept or reject

Avatar
mattw | 5 months ago
3 likes

This is diabolical.

An effort to manage demand by ignoring road safety?

How good have TVP been previously?

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to mattw | 5 months ago
2 likes

mattw wrote:

How good have TVP been previously?

I've had TVP take action on a few of the reports I've made. They're better at this than they were a few years ago. I'd say they've actioned more than they've not actioned, but then I do ensure I have the bike in the video frame.

What I have noticed, is action is more likely if the vehicle passes both closely and at a high speed.

Avatar
anagallis_arvensis replied to HoarseMann | 5 months ago
3 likes

It's almost impossible to bar mount on my flat bar commuter bike and have the bars visible although it's pretty easy on drop bars.

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to anagallis_arvensis | 5 months ago
1 like

I don't have the bars in shot, but angle the front camera down so the front wheel is visible in the frame. I also have a rear camera, where the rear wheel (or rack) is visible in shot. I think as long as there is a reference point for the bike in view, then you're good.

For even greater effect, after an incident like this, you could find a place to dismount the bike, prop it up and remove the camera to film the bike. If the footage is continously recording, then you've got reliable evidence of the width of the handlebars.

Avatar
stonojnr replied to HoarseMann | 5 months ago
4 likes

but the trade off is youve then limited the scope of what you capture in front of the bike to fill part of the frame with tarmac and wheel just as a reference point, which could then be a crucial miss in some passes, or pull outs at junctions.

plus I find with a rear camera, like this example, the rack and pannier (with pass pixi displayed fwiw) completely wrecks your sense of where the vehicle actually is in relation to you.

This guy was within touching distance at this point, wasnt going to cross the white line because of oncoming traffic and only backed out because I sensed the danger, turned round and gave him a good honest assessment of what I thought of his driving at this point, and maybe he finally spotted the big yellow square with a camera symbol on it.

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to stonojnr | 5 months ago
0 likes

I don't think it limits the scope of what you can see. If anything, I think it helps get the exposure right as there's much less sky in frame.

Avatar
stonojnr replied to HoarseMann | 5 months ago
1 like

you will have traded that reference point though for the point at which number plates, as an example, are still legible within the field of view,which may be an issue, maybe not, it could well depend on the light levels, or speed of the pass.

but that frame shows a classic example of barrel distortion caused by the wide angle fixed lens that you get with cycling action cameras, which shows what a complete nonsense it is to be even trying to "calculate" distance from any video submission like this.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to stonojnr | 5 months ago
3 likes

Surely you just need to start every ride with a testcard?

Mind you, is that a nearby small clown visually next to a giant child at a distance...?

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to stonojnr | 5 months ago
0 likes

In my experience, there's no issue reading number plates with the camera angled down (see below, even at the periphery of the lens field of view and some distance away, this plate is still legible).

It would be perfectly possible to calculate distance from a video submission with wide angle lens distortion. But more likely, measurements of road features from the location and the known dimensions of the vehicle involved would be used, along with the reference point of the cycle in the frame.

Avatar
wtjs replied to HoarseMann | 5 months ago
0 likes

It would be perfectly possible to calculate distance from a video submission with wide angle lens distortion

The ones we really want something doing about don't require such calculations, but they still don't do anything about them. The only things the police are interested in calculating are more ways to avoid doing anything

https://upride.cc/incident/yj60kgzar12way_brethertonsarchwaybuses_closepass/

Avatar
Muddy Ford | 5 months ago
7 likes

And this is why drivers will continue to intimidate and bully cyclists using their vehicles as weapons. The fuckwitted useless c%%ts supposedly paid to protect society from thugs and criminals are actually supporting them. It is obvious to anyone watching the video how close the vehicle is to the kerb and that a cyclist will be in that gap regardless of wether you can see their handlebars or not. Useless, lazy, prejudiced w@nkers.

Avatar
neilmck | 5 months ago
1 like

It could be that they are getting a lot of videos that are not obviously close passes like this one, so the prosecutors have decided a reference point on the bicycle is needed as policy.

Avatar
mattw replied to neilmck | 5 months ago
5 likes

IMO that needs a thorough justification, which I have not seen.

FOI for conversations that lead to the decision may be revealing.

Avatar
Hirsute | 5 months ago
6 likes

Where the hell are the national standards?

South Yorkshire you have chief inspector Kevin Smith sometime of this parish with a set up for distances. They use a mat with lines on and a still from the camera and use that for close pass assessment.

Avatar
LeadenSkies | 5 months ago
9 likes

I read the article before viewing the video of the incident. I was expecting to see a marginal close pass. I winced when I saw the footage. You don't need a ruler to tell you that was an unsafe close pass. Not sure you even need a brain cell, it is literally a no brainer. I usually like to give the police the benefit of the doubt but this decision has me thinking is it gross incompetence or some kind of corruption.

Avatar
stonojnr | 5 months ago
2 likes

That's twice I've heard recently that the police calculate the distance to the vehicle from a point of reference to the bike in frame of the video, first I've heard of a submission being rejected for it.

But is this some new ACPO style guideline ? None of mine would ever qualify if it became a new hurdle to jump.

Avatar
swldxer replied to stonojnr | 5 months ago
4 likes

ACPO = National Police Chiefs' Council = NPCC nowadays.

Avatar
ktache | 5 months ago
4 likes

Width of the road, white lines aren't moving and I he width of the vehicle.

But....

Avatar
Sriracha replied to ktache | 5 months ago
4 likes

They can gauge the distance between the car and kerb, which I'd reckon at less than 1.5m. Unless they assume the cyclist does not in fact exist, then the motorist must be too close.

Avatar
Sriracha | 5 months ago
3 likes

So if my hatchback is rear-ended they won't accept my tailgate camera footage of the culprit because my own car isn't in the frame?

Avatar
Hirsute replied to Sriracha | 5 months ago
6 likes

You need one of those 360 cameras on your car.
Ah, but this distorts the footage so no action can be taken.

Avatar
the little onion | 5 months ago
11 likes

Institutionally anti-cyclist

Avatar
Mr Grumpy replied to the little onion | 5 months ago
5 likes

Ha, was just about to say exactly the same thing myself. They spend more time thinking up pathetic excuses and reasons not to follow up close passes than they do investigating them.

Pages

Latest Comments