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Three Norwich motorists pulled over for driving too close to undercover police on bicycles in city sting

PUBLISHED: 08:12 04 October 2017

Norfolk Police and Fire Service running a cycle safety operation to highlight the dangers from drivers passing too close. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norfolk Police and Fire Service running a cycle safety operation to highlight the dangers from drivers passing too close. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Four drivers have been given warnings as part of a police crackdown on drivers who risk the lives of cyclists.

Norfolk Police and Fire Service running a cycle safety operation to highlight the dangers from drivers passing too close. Insp Chris Hinitt and Group manager Duncan Ashworth from Carrow Fire Station give reporter Peter Walsh safety tips. Picture: ANTONY KELLY Norfolk Police and Fire Service running a cycle safety operation to highlight the dangers from drivers passing too close. Insp Chris Hinitt and Group manager Duncan Ashworth from Carrow Fire Station give reporter Peter Walsh safety tips. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Plain clothes officers have been out on two wheels close to County Hall in Norwich in a bid to identify drivers who do not allow enough room when overtaking cyclists, follow too closely behind, or left-hook them by overtaking and then turning left across their path.

As part of Operation Close Pass, the cycling police officers, who were equipped with cameras to record evidence of driving offences, reported any offenders to uniformed police on motorcycles who then pulled the vehicle into Carrow Fire Station.

More: Motorists who risk the lives of cyclists by driving too close are being targeted by plain clothes police on bikes in Norwich

A total of four motorists were spoken to by police after being caught riding too close to bikes.

Three of the drivers took up the offer of an educational briefing by roads policing officers and members of the fire service.

It includes being shown a pass mat which shows the 1.5m passing distance drivers should allow when overtaking cycles.

One of the motorists refused the offer and was given a Traffic Offence Report for consideration of the offences committed.

A 19-year-old motorist who had been pulled in and educated about safer driving was arrested on suspicion of drug driving after failing a roadside drugs test.

His car was also seized after he was found to have no insurance, no licence and no MOT.

He was taken to Wymondham Police Investigation Centre (PIC) where he will be questioned.

Police said footage obtained in relation to a further three or four drivers filmed as part of the operation will be reviewed later to see whether any further action was necessary.

The operation, which follows a similar scheme pioneered by police in the West Midlands, has been deemed a success.

More: Norfolk police consider using undercover rider to target drivers who ‘close pass’ cyclists

Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt, of the Serious Collision Investigation Team, said: “We’ve had a really good positive response from the people who have come through.

“The fact we’ve had low numbers says to me that actually at this time of the day we’ve got some really good drivers out there.

“But we’ve still got people we have stopped which is disappointing.”

Figures show that for the five year period up to April 2017, over 1200 pedal cycle casualties were recorded in Norfolk, with the number of ‘near miss’ incidents unconfirmed but undoubtedly much higher.

Det Insp Hinitt said the biggest thing about today’s operation was educating people about the dangers faced by cyclists.

He said: “Its not just us going after drivers but about educating them so that everyone who uses the road does it safely while thinking about other people’s safety.”

He said cyclists who were found to be riding dangerously or inappropriately would also be spoken to.

The scheme has been backed by the Norwich Cycling Campaign which has described close passing by vehicles as frightening and intimidating for cyclists, many of whom are left too scared to get on their bikes as a result.

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