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New safety operation to reduce cycle casualties on Bedfordshire’s roads

8 Mar 2018

A new safety operation aimed at reducing the number of collisions involving cyclists on the county’s roads has been launched today.

The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit have launched Operation Velo – an initiative dedicated to reducing cycle casualties on the road through education and promotion of behavioural change.

Plain clothed police officers will be out on bicycles across Bedford town centre identifying drivers of vehicles who do not adopt a ‘safe pass’ approach.

A police officer will then escort the vehicle to a check point where education will be given around the optimum distance to pass a cycle – 1.5m – with consideration given to the appropriateness of the road environment and speed taken. In some cases motorists could be prosecuted for careless or inconsiderate driving and face a fine of £100 and three points on their licence.

Checks will be carried out to ensure vehicles are insured and there are no possible defects or illegals parts.

The officers will also be looking at cycle rider behaviour and addressing any who put themselves at risk by disobeying traffic signs and red lights, failing to use lights in the hours of darkness and cycling recklessly.

In addition they will be actively seeking opportunities to enforce the ‘Fatal 4’ offences of drink and drug driving, using a mobile phone at the wheel, failing to wear a seatbelt and speeding. Any motorists caught flouting these could face prosecution.

In 2016 there were 147 collisions across the county involving cyclists that resulted in injury ranging from slight to serious. Over the past four years (2012-2016) four cyclists have died on the roads.

BCH Road Policing Inspector Chris Huggins said: “Each year there are many unnecessary deaths and serious injuries on the roads. One of the most vulnerable road user groups are cyclists, and with the launch of Op Velo, we aim to educate drivers as to safe passing around cyclists and deal with driving offenders who jeopardise rider safety.

“We will also be taking action with cyclists who take risks, by disobeying traffic signs and signs and riding without lights. We must respect each other when driving and riding on the roads, and we all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of others.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway said: “I am always delighted when best practise can be adopted in our area. I understand that when a similar operation was mounted in the West Midlands it led to a fall of one fifth in incidents relation to close passes with cyclists in the first year. I sincerely hope that we can achieve similar success in this county.”

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