Road Danger Reduction Forum

Subscribe to Road Danger Reduction Forum feed Road Danger Reduction Forum
Safer Roads For All
Updated: 38 min 49 sec ago

Policing close passing of cyclists: Update May 2019

13 May, 2019 - 19:36

Here is an update of Police Services that are currently, or have been recently carrying out policing of close passing of cyclists.

The basic format is the same: plain clothes officers report ahead if they have been passed too closely; the driver is stopped and, generally using a mat, the driver then has Rule 163 of the Highway Code and its rationale explained to them. Some 26 of the 42 Police Services in the UK attended our September training day in 2018. At present some 24 Police Services have carried out some kind of policing of close passing of cyclists.

Precise numbers of forces doing this kind of work are difficult as some don’t update us. There are also police services that are interested but haven’t yet organised resources to do this type of enforcement. On top of that there is also a lot of work involving joint operations over different policing areas *. Forces with headsets sent to them by Cycling UK to assist operations by illustrating what close passing feels like are marked *


Police Services that are currently, or have been recently, carrying out policing of close passing of cyclists.
Avon and Somerset*
Cambridgeshire (with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire)*
Devon and Cornwall
Greater Manchester
Hampshire* and Thames Valley*
Norfolk and Suffolk**
South Wales
West Midlands*
West Yorkshire
Police Scotland
Police Service Northern Ireland

(North Yorkshire*/ Cleveland and Durham* have received headsets)

Policing close passing to the high standard of West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team requires accepting and processing 3rd party reporting and a high quality social media presence (such as that of Surrey Roads Policing Unit): both of these elements vary to the degree they are present (or indeed absent) in the Police Services mentioned.

It should be noted that the numbers of operations carried out by the Police Services above, and the numbers of drivers stopped, vary widely.

The state of play now

Our concern as Road Danger Reduction Forum is to report on and disseminate the work on roads policing done by West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team. While the close passing policing operations are of key importance, they have to be linked in to an effective 3rd party reporting system for this form of careless driving, and are greatly helped by a good quality social media presence which assists in educating road users . (See the post here
which describes this).

There is some reference to 3rd party reporting in the reports below: readers should be aware of the research due to be published shortly by Professor Sally Kyd and Dr Steven Cammiss of Leicester University Law School on this subject, which shows a wide degree of difference on the experience of 3rd party reporting in the surveyed Police Services.

It is also important to be aware that there have been a number of accounts on social media of experiences of cyclists with specific PSs with regard to close passing. These accounts don’t necessarily have any scientific basis for assessing the operation of a PS in these respects, but nevertheless can indicate issues and some are referred to.

Finally, the three-pronged approach of:
• Close passing policing
• 3rd party reporting of close passing
• Social media explanation of this kind of policing
is related to other forms of enforcement – targeting the principal source of danger to other road users – as described here ,but this report concentrates mainly on close passing policing of the basic three elements.

Avon & Somerset
A&S Police Road Safety‏ @ASPRoadSafety The #undercovercop cycling in #Bristol – offering words of advice (WoA) to drivers on the need to pass cyclists safely. General response has been positive & apologetic. Also gave WoA to cyclist who made a dangerous manoeuvre turning right off #ParkSreet while passing the officer. 17/12/18

Here’s another tweet from them with a nice Gif:

But: Hayley Davies‏ @hjd1984 My friend was recently hit by a car on a roundabout. She has 3 separate CCTV angles and yet @ASPolice have refused to accept them as evidence because “impact and car license isn’t in the same frame” 4:47 PM – 13 Jul 2018

Nothing new reported. A tweet posted on 28th February 2019 by Gabriel‏ @Ezy_Ryder shows: So latest close pass disregarded as you usual. See this video … at 2 min in.
“We are not doing close pass exercises involving a plain clothes officers, but are using the mats at public events. 28th March 2019”

On Twitter: @andytacey Feb 5 I have given up sending camera footage to @Cumbriapolice @CumbriaRoadsPol as not interested unless they hit me..
Started in Autumn 2018 Two officers cycled 70 miles in central Derby: “On a positive note, only four motorists were stopped… As the vast majority of road users gave them plenty of space,”
In Road Safety Week in 2018 unmarked police cars were due to be used
Devon and Cornwall

Our message for Chief Constable Otter of @DC_Police – please RT so we get some traction on this.

— Family ByCycle (@FamilyByCycle) August 13, 2018

“Family ByCycle” are well known on social media for their “End-to-End” bicycle ride with their small children. This thread on 13th August 2018 describes their experiences in Devon – note the supportive response from the Chief Inspector
Coverage in the cycling media complains that policing is disproportionately targeting cyclists : “Taunton cycle safety operation saw police stop 24 cyclists and three motorists”. 30/03/ 2019
Bike Cop‏ @50bikecop Today I will be mostly engaged in ‘Operation #ClosePass’ targeting motorists who think passing cyclists & horse riders too closely is acceptable. Yes we have a police officer on a bicycle & he has got cameras rigged! #SlowOrDeadSlow #GiveSpaceBeSafe #BHS

FlatStanley‏ @flat__stanley Essex police do this – had a good chat with the police officer for a witness statement for a close pass – he said they acted on 15 close passes last month (3rd party reporting) 15th December 2018
Essex Police received 374 ‘Extra Eyes’ submissions in March 2019 – a year-on-year rise of 128% – and took action in 108 cases.
Launched in December 2017,The Extra Eyes webpage provides a simple method for cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers to upload footage showing dangerous or illegal behaviour.Having reviewed the footage, where appropriate Essex Police contact the person caught on camera and explain the potential consequences of their actions. Alternatively, the offender may be offered a driver retraining course, or in serious cases face prosecution with the footage used as evidence.
On the 108 cases where action was taken during March 2019, more than half (62) were in response to instances of careless driving. 15 close pass drivers were identified by the footage.
Some issues about a 3rd party video being badly handled: good to see @Glos_Police on January 10th handle it: “ We’ve reviewed the conversation and certain comments made by the officer were unacceptable and do not represent the Constabulary’s approach to road safety. We’ve also reviewed the footage and found our initial assessment, and closing of the investigation, was wrong. We’ve now reopened the investigation and will look into this further. We have also apologised for the inappropriate comments said to the cyclist and will be giving the officer in question words of advice.”
Greater Manchester
From 6th February 2019 have had 3rd party reporting through Single Online Reporting Portal. They run close pass operations “when they can” but don’t have a dedicated unit. They have been doing this for a while with their first driver to be prosecuted found guilty with a fine + costs of £825 + 3 points.
Twitter advice from Gwent Police:

Heading out this weekend? If you're cycling or driving please watch this…we need all road users to cooperate & travel safely, whilst being mindful of others. Our PC Jon Williams has this advice for you…Got a question? Tweet us @GwentPolice using the hashtag #GPAskJon

— Gwent Police (@gwentpolice) September 14, 2018

Hampshire and Thames Valley
@HantsPolRoads are using the phrase first coined by a member of the Met’s Cycle Safety Team : “We can’t be every where, but we could be anywhere” .April 16th 2019

Still concerns voiced about 3rd party reporting by : HumanOnABike‏ @WtrlvileCyclist
I’ve reported 14. I’ve heard nothing. It appears to be a black hole.
Cycliq light/cameras were being used by members of the Hants Police Cycle Club. Unfortunately there was a Twitter spat with them over some comments on safe cycling and their account has gone. We hope they aren’t put off and are back soon.

Didn’t attend training day
Complaints on Twitter from: Andrew Disley‏ @andrewdisley : Just been told by local police that taking primary position while I cycled at 20mph in a 30mph with oncoming vehicles and double solid white lines is me causing an obstruction and as such it was ok for a driver to pass me at about 20cms from my handlebars. Jan 15th 2019
20th Dec 2018 Two terrifying #closepass 21Dec18 Reported + HD video 24Dec18 Appointment + statement expressing my wish for a NIP 13Mar19 “Sorry, no action we did not send out a NIP” A prime example of how @LancsPolice continue to fail on vulnerable road user safety. Officer reviewed this … and then victim blamed me for “riding into the path of the van” see description for officers reply. At 1.15 and 2.25 secs.
MerPol City Centre‏ @MerPolCityCen

Officers have been out in the City centre tackling the issue of dangerous cycling including those who fail to stop at red lights. 20 tickets issued for various offences. We encourage people to cycle but please do so with consideration for other road users and pedestrians.

I haven’t heard from them re-policing close passing
In 2017 – 83 close pass presentations, reported 74 motorists for traffic offences such as not having a licence, insurance or MoT or breaching the speed limit. 9 cars were seized.

Last year there were 199 close pass presentations and 216 traffic offences reported. A total of 26 vehicles were seized.

So far 2019 there have been 82 close pass presentations, 120 tickets for traffic offences have been issued and 12 vehicles have been seized.

There have been five successful prosecutions for offences directly related to the manner in which they passed the cyclist (Careless/Inconsiderate driving) receiving the following penalties;

1 x Disqualification for 6 months
1 x 6 points and £440 fine
2 x 3 points and about £100 fine for each
1 x Driving Course

(2 prosecutions sought this year for which we do not currently have any results).

As always, our priority is about engagement and education which goes some way to indicate the poor standard of driving displayed by these cases in order to warrant both our prosecuting them and the high penalties received by two of them in particular.

We have continued working closely with LCC who supply us data from the StayWider website which TfL then analyse and produces a list of hotspot locations that we can focus on in the knowledge that they are the primary and current areas of concern to London cyclists.

In the “Evening Standard”:

“Hotspot” locations are chosen after being flagged by cyclists on Twitter or on the London Cycling Campaign “stay wider of the rider” (SWOTR) website..An undercover officer wearing a body-worn camera cycles a route and alerts colleagues to dangerous overtaking. Guilty motorists are pulled over and given the choice of a ticket for careless driving or an on-the-spot “educational” reminder of the Highway Code. Five incidents led to prosecutions.

For an example of successful 3rd party reporting, see this video (c.18 seconds in) .

This resulted in Lee Christensen
A lot of negative publicity came from lack of progress following a video clip featured on London news although there has now been a prosecution

Norfolk and Suffolk

In October 2018 the BBC were told that 75% of videos were acted on. Harry Mach argued on social media that there had been a drop in January 2019. A complaint he made about alleged lack of action was responded to.

@NSRAPT tell us:
The agenda for Norfolk and Suffolk for 2019 is:
Financial investment in equipment, media/branding and advertising/promotional material in both Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies
8 Close Pass events in EACH county this year, with one a month. This is a massive jump for Suffolk, who had nothing last year, and brings both counties in line with each other. Social media activity around these events, advertising the operation
The Cycliq cameras will become available between the Close Pass operations to commuting Police staff/officers, so that they can film their daily commutes to/from work. The material that they generate will be used on out social media feed (with number plates redacted) so that we can promote discussion, sharing and increase the quantity of material that Close Pass is generating in the Public forum. Of course, any serious offences that are captured will be prosecuted instead, and will not be usable on social media.
There is a decent uptake from Suffolk County Council, who have committed staff and resources to the event, and I have been really excited by their enthusiasm to adopt the operation in their county. The Norfolk side will simply be an increase in events, but with the additional investment, we hope to make the social media presence significant (in our Counties).

EastNorthantsCycling‏ @Cycle_northants tweeted
No action taken as “I’m riding in the primary position” according to @NorthantsPolice having just overtaken a parked car, thought that’s what we (cyclists) had meant to do if it wasn’t safe for an overtake. LL63 AOU 10:45 AM – 1 Mar 2019

No action taken as "I'm riding in the primary position" according to @NorthantsPolice having just overtaken a parked car, thought that's what we (cyclists) had meant to do if it wasn't safe for an overtake. LL63 AOU

— EastNorthantsCycling (@Cycle_northants) March 1, 2019

No response from this PS re-close passing policing

‏ @NottsRoadsPol Officers have been out on bikes today around the city and county filming poor driving behaviour. To those drivers who passed too close to the officers or provided inappropriate feedback, expect a visit or something through the post. #closepass @WeAreCyclingUK @nottspolice 5th April

North Yorkshire
They attended 2017 training day, have a mat and officer commitment, but lack of resources have meant no close passing operations and just the use of the mat at public events for education. Hopefully things will change with both the Tour de Yorkshire and the Cycling Road World Championships being held in the area this year: bringing non-cycling people to the events may mean benefits for drivers attending public events and seeing how to drive from display of mats. Absence of activity has led to complaints on Twitter.

Pompey Cyclist‏ @PompeyCyclist Of the last batch of 6 incidents I reported to @StaffsPolice only two are being sent an NIP and being “considered” for prosecution. HGV 12 inches away? Nah Peugeot driver passes within a foot? Nope Overtake me past parked cars, into traffic, forcing them and me to stop? No.
I have not heard of any close passing policing from this PS.

South Wales
In March 2019 they report:
In South Wales we have carried out 2 Close Pass operations in recent months. A total of 13 offences were detected, with all offenders electing a road safety input in lieu of prosecution. We used social media extensively during both with regular updates on Facebook and Twitter. The local radio station was also involved carrying out interviews of officers involved as well as some of the people we stopped.
On the down side we do find that the operation is very time consuming as well as not really being cost effective for what it achieves. We are encouraging people to send us their Dashcam footage via Op Snap, as this provides a better tool in dealing with offences by both drivers and pedal cyclists.

There is partnership working with South Wales Fire and Rescue @SWFireandRescue : Today we are working with @swpolice and @cardiffcouncil on #OpClosePass stopping vehicles that do not give enough distance to cyclists and providing training in safety awareness.
There were 2,300 dashcam films were sent in and action was taken in more than 650 cases in 2018.

South Yorkshire
No reports back from them. A video
of a questionable response to a 3rd party video reporting a (very) close pass received many comments on Twitter.
Continuing social media complaints about inadequate 3rd party reporting procedures from Northern Cyclist TVL‏ @NthrnCyclistTVL

I had a Notts. cop tell me that if she charged my close passes, she'd have to charge hundreds of other cyclists complaints, so couldn't.

— Northern Cyclist TVL (@NthrnCyclistTVL) March 30, 2019


New online reporting tool @SurreyPolice have updated their online ‘Report a road traffic incident’ forms where dash and helmet cam footage can be linked. You now get a receipt email with a reference number on submission.

Sussex: 3rd party back up Dec 2018
Sussex Safer Roads‏ @SussexSRP
At this year’s Piazza Italia in Horsham we’re taking the time to explain how vehicles should overtake cyclists safely by passing nice & wide (Oh & we’re enjoying the glorious spring sunshine!) #RoadSafety #PiazzaItalia

West Midlands
Here’s an example of what they do from Twitter:
Were you the cyclist on the A452 Collector Rd towards Chelmsley Wood who was “close passed” at about 8:30 am yesterday, & the offender was immediately pulled over & prosecuted by ourselves? If so can you please make contact with PC 3505 Mark Hodson. Please RT
We’ve got excellent footage from our vehicle from behind the offence but we would just like to know if you were running a camera, not only for the prosecution but so we can use the footage “post” prosecution as part of our #OpClosePass programme
WMPRHRT work closely with the West Mids Fire Service:

• There are at least ONE PER WEEK operations in their area, carried out with neighbourhood teams, mainly of PCSOs. About 3 (including up to 2 motorcyclists) come from WMPRHRT with up to 6 from the neighbourhood team.
• Each operation takes up to 3 hours.
• 9 – 16 vehicles are stopped for close passing in each operation. Typically 3 go to court if abusive or very close pass, 9 get the “chat on a mat” and Virtual Reality given by Fire Service. Constant flow through 3rd party.
• 50 – 80 cases of 3rd party reporting PER MONTH (helmetcams and light/cameras, with some dashboard cams now) processed.
• Approximately 40% of their #S3RTA1988 #closepass offences have a educational course disposal. The rest get a conditional offer of 3 points & £100 fine or court.

In addition WMPRHRT are active in policing:

• 20 mph: See BBC video here
• #OpTopDeck out again this afternoon with @ST_Police crewing the bus in company with PC Hodson from our team. 41 mobile phone offences detected in 3 hours. The evidence from bus is fantastic even in the poor weather this afternoon. Offending observed & evidenced from feet away!
• #OpZigZag:
e.g. #OpZigZag appears anywhere drivers are endangering #vulnerableroadusers through their unlawful actions.15 drivers will be reported for Due Care after speeding through the pedestrian crossing on Gravelly Hill (30mph limit) ,the driver doing 64mph… reported for Dangerous Driving 09/05/2019

West Yorkshire

Reported to me on Twitter 23/01/2019 – so not good at 3rd party


38 stopped in second operation, mainly for close pass, in July

Unfortunately there has been negative coverage in cycling media “I’m not even considering police, last time I enquired with Wiltshire Police they told me unless there’s a collision they’re not interested,” he told us.

Police Scotland

May in Scotland

May Scotland pic

For an example of social media: on 21/02/2019 Road Policing Scotland‏ @polscotrpu
#OpClosePass If you have a spare couple of minutes, please consider reading this article which explains why cyclists take certain positions whilst cycling on the road. Great explanations in far more depth than we could ever tweet.

@FalkirkPolice 21st February 2019: Operation #ClosePass aims to help keep cyclists safe on the road by educating drivers who are found to be passing an unmarked police cyclist too closely or unsafely. @ForthValPolice @polscotrpu officers are out engaging with drivers. #ThursdayThoughts

@polscotrpu PC Philip was invited to R D Anderson Haulage in #Edinburgh today to deliver an #opclosepass educational input to their drivers focusing on #Rule163 of the Highway Code. Using our specially designed mat PC Philip demonstrated the space required for safe overtaking of 08/01/2019

I think it’s worthwhile reading an account of one well known blogger’s (David Brennan‏ @magnatom) experiences from his thread on15 Sep 2018:

“I’m often asked if I’ve reported an incident I’ve shared. The reality is I only rarely do go to the police. Unfortunately going to the police is not easy. First, you need to hope you get a sympathetic officer. Sometimes you do.. Sometimes you get dismissed. Sometimes you have to argue with them that, yes driving a car 30cm from my arm at 40mph is dangerous. Then, when they do take it seriously, it takes time to do the statement and burn the videos to CD. Then you rarely hear from the police again.
Sometimes you do, but often you need to chase them. Then, sometimes the police make a mistake and don’t fill a form out right, or don’t send the case to the Procurator Fiscal on time. I’ve had a few cases dismissed because of that. Then the Procurator Fiscal take the case and you may never hear about the case again, unless you chase. You only ever hear about it if it goes to court. Some cases are dropped due to ‘not in public interest’ which is often code for, ‘we have too many cases and road safety isn’t a priority’. Some are given a warning letter, which is a waste of time. Then if you are very lucky, you get a court date. By that is often delayed. Sometimes the delay happens before the court date, sometimes the delay happens when you’ve been sitting in the witness room for 6 hours.
Sometimes after having sat in the witness room for 6 hours the PF comes to chat with you and lies about a problem with the paperwork which you later find out was completely false. If you are super lucky at this point the defendant admits guilty and you aren’t needed.
If you are unlucky you need to go into court as a witness. That, I can assure you, is not fun. In fact, its pretty damn horrible. Not only do they pick at your evidence, if they see fit, they character assassinate you. For an hour and a half. Then, at the end they find the defendant not guilty because they can’t be identified in the footage. It matters not that they admit driving the car at the time, on that road, or that you shout out the reg, and the make of the car is obvious. Or they are found not guilty because its not breach of the peace to shout aggressively in someone’s face that they are young to beat you up,…. Or that the precise position of the car wheels are not know at a specific moment which might mean they didn’t drive their car at you…. If, you get beyond that and they are miraculously found guilty, then they get a slap on the wrist with a small fine and a few points. Less than they’d get if they were caught holding a mobile phone. Oh and the charge is reduced from Dangerous to careless, because it’s just easier that way. and despite everything that happened, despite how bad the driving was and the crap you’ve had to go through, you still feel guilty for pursuing it all.
That’s why I don’t report as much as I could. The system is very, very, VERY heavily weighted in the favour of the accused and those driving the 1 tonne hunk of metal. My cases are only the tip of the iceberg. I know of many more serious cases that have failed because the system is broken, its underfunded and vulnerable user road safety is not a priority. and yet I still get people saying how I enjoy the drama…..that I enjoy getting people into trouble…. that I enjoy going to the police. No. I hate it. But if I don’t, and if you don’t, nothing will change.”

Police Service Northern Ireland
They report:
• Top of our legislative shopping list, when we get the Assembly back into operation, is the introduction of a FPN for Careless Driving in order that we can introduce something similar to Op Snap. As it currently sits we are having to prosecute in court for offences that our GB colleagues can expeditiously deal with by FPN. This has hampered our efforts in delivery of more “Close Pass” operations.

• The Dept for Infrastructure in NI have recently launched a number of new TV and poster advertisements dealing with cyclist/motorist relationships and trying to encourage mutual tolerance and respect, see:

• We have been working with Cycling Ulster and Cycling Ireland to encourage their clubs to adopt head-cams and warning signs to advise drivers that cameras are operating and we’ve jointly managed to get a number of our Policing and Community Safety Partnerships on board to fund cameras and jerkins for these participating clubs.

Summary and Conclusions
The nature of policing close passing of cyclists is very patchy. As we see it, the principal issues and problems arising are still those reported on last year:
1. Insufficient number of police allocated to operations.
This isn’t just the usual – but of course necessary – complaint that there is very little roads policing in the UK. When I made this point to Road Safety Minister in 2018 he replied that “it was not in (his) gift” to allocate resources, as he is a Minister at the Department for Transport, which does not fund roads policing. That’s true, but it doesn’t change the fact that operations need to be carried out regularly and frequently to get the message across.
While pioneers WMPRHRT work with partners like the West Midlands Fire Service, and non-roads police officers can be used as well, there is a need for the actual close passing operation to be at the core of activities, and that will require a uniformed police officer.
At present there are a number of Police Services which are only using the mats from Cycling UK for sessions at public events, not as part of an actual enforcement exercise
Numbers of operations targeting close passing have to be sufficient to create the impression, first raised by a MPS officer, that the police “can’t be everywhere, but we could be anywhere”.
Similarly, if the 3rd party reporting systems coming in are to work, adequate numbers of staff have to be available to process the evidence coming in.
2. 3rd party reporting is a crucial element.
We have always argued this and the long awaited roll out of a user friendly reporting scheme should radically affect this and indeed all roads policing. Unfortunately progress here is patchy – are you aware of portals/web links you can submit footage through in your area?
3. Education is only part of the process.
While the overall objective is changing what is regarded as acceptable behaviour: “hearts and minds”. However, we agree with WMPRHRT that the possibility of successful prosecution has to be there. At present their ration of education (e.g. mat use and talk) to enforcement/charging is 1:3.
4. Twitter and social media are crucial elements.
The message has to be got across to drivers – cyclists already know about close passing – and that means good use of all media. Surrey RPU, WMPRHRT have been gold standard here, with the Met’s Cycle Safety Team on the podium. It needs to be proactive. We’re also aware that police Twitter accounts may be operated by officers in their own “free” time.
5. Reducing close passing is just one type of road danger reduction.
Our view is that this is part of a general approach which should target the principal cause of harm to others as the priority. Ideally there is a close link with policing of 20 mph, pavement parking, infringement of cyclist infrastructure, distracted driving as in Operation Zig Zag.
Tweets from police services, press releases etc. which move away from this to target pedestrians and cyclists are not part of this, nor are non-evidence based calls for hi-viz, helmets etc., which at best water down the already limited focus on reducing danger at source.
This is all part of an ongoing process. The approach pioneered by West Midlands Police three years ago is here to stay. Unfortunately, a minority of Police Services in the UK have taken no interest. More importantly, those roads police officers in others that have made a commitment have generally done so at a much lower level of intensity that WMPRHRT. Readers should remember that Police Services in general, and roads policing in particular, are at unprecedented pressure on resources. Nevertheless, WMPRHRT have shown what can be done in current conditions, and we hope other Police Services will catch up with their progress.
Dr Robert Davis, Chair, Road Danger Reduction Forum. 13th May 2019

Categories: Views

Operation Zig Zag – A new operation by West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team

22 April, 2019 - 22:31

As Secretariat for WMPRHRT we’re pleased to report on this approach adopted by them and described by PC Mark Hodson at the Leicester University Law School March 29th conference on Law Enforcement and Vulnerable Road Users.

Operation Zig Zag is another example of how West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team approach enforcement by targeting danger at source – concentrating on driver behaviour as it’s this which poses most threat of harm to the community.

In the last quarter of 2018 in the West Midlands Police area there were 23 deaths in Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs), 20 were pedestrians, 2 cyclists and 1 driver. The impetus for the operation was “the need for an operation combining the right enforcement and media strategy resulting in a true and proper deterrent against those who pose the greatest threat of harm”. Analysis of the last 2 years data on Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI) pedestrian involved collisions shows that 38% occurred at or near pedestrian crossings; 30% were under 15 and 50% under 25; the majority occurred at educational, retail or recreational locations.

Three tactics are employed for such locations:
Community Speedwatch – New Standardised Policy.
PCSO Speed enforcement – community driven, flexible, constant & targeted.
Operation Zig Zag – stimulated by locational trigger of “Zig Zag” lines.

How Operation Zig Zag works

The locations involved are those (crossings, schools, shopping areas presence of heavy traffic) with the presence of Zig Zag road markings, and with evidence of distraction offences or excess speed at the location. Aggravating factors are evidenced to attain a Category 1 (court only disposal): the sentencing outcome starts at 7 points or a discretionary ban, with fine and costs amounting to some £550. Charges are under Section 2 and 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (dangerous driving and careless driving/driving without due care and attention) only.

Distraction offences(normally forms of mobile phone or similar device use, but could be drinking from cup) are seen by a covert or overt spotter with a body cam/ or helmet cam. Police motorcyclist or bicyclist are used for this.

Speed offences – start lower than the usual WMP enforcement threshold (37mph) so for a 30 mph limit :
• 35 – 41mph – S3RTA1988 standard disposal
• 41 – 49mph – S3RTA1988 Court disposal only
• 50 mph + – S2RTA1988

Results from Operation Zig Zag in 2019

• 72 court only disposal (Cat 1) Due Care offences and 3 Dangerous Drive offences
• 17 Due Care offences dealt with in the normal manner, so potential to still be dealt with at court for a Category 1 Due Care Offence 7-9 points with discretionary disqualification / band C fine (175 %)
• All police led prosecutions, WMPRHRT fill a court with 30 Zig Zag cases at a time
• Dangerous Drive offences postal charged and CPS prosecuted under Op Zig Zag guidelines

In Court

• Police led prosecutor aims for disqualification for S3SRTA offences
• Even the least sentence available is far greater than what the offender would receive if just a normal speed check or distraction offence.
• First court with 27 offenders in a morning was on 11th April with the Police led Prosecutor pressing for a disqualification for the worst offences and the slower speeds getting a minimum of 7 points. There were 3 not guilty pleas, adjourned (which may plead guilty) 24 guilty pleas resulting typically in 7/8 points, with average costs = £550,and 2 cases adjourned for disqualification.

And also:

This all takes place in association with:

Operation Close Pass: Addressing close passing of cyclists in contravention of Rule 163 of the Highway Code.

Operation Top Deck : Use of officers on buses to spot mobile phone offences.

Operation Park Safe: To deter dangerous illegal parking on footways and other locations such as at crossings.

3rd party reporting: In the first quarter of 2019 WMP had 600 3rd party prosecutions from dash cams, cycle helmet and light cams. There’s an interest from WMPRHRT officers to now get footage from leisure/sport cyclists riding on rural roads as well as the commuting cyclists who have been the concern so far.

• Operation Zig Zag is there: “To deter offending at vulnerable locations by developing driver behavioural change, stimulated by the locational trigger of “Zig Zag” lines which drivers will associate with enforcement that results in sentencing affecting driver behaviour.”
Categories: Views

“Changing social norms is vital for 20 mph success”

30 March, 2019 - 20:02

The following letter under this title appeared in Local Transport Today 769 (29 March – 11April 2019).I wonder if I could raise two issues in the ongoing debate about 20 mph and your Editorial (LTT 768) which have not attracted much, if any, attention?

Firstly, there is confusion between numbers reported as casualties in Road Traffic Collisions and safety. As we have been saying in the Road Danger Reduction movement for decades, the two are different and may even be inversely related. (See my Viewpoint in LTT 635 for a simple explanation of this). There is certainly a place for good quality analysis of the casualty figures – but this has to be placed in the context of how we fully define “safety”.

Secondly, a key question has been the discussion around motorists’ speed. Debate has existed since 20 mph areas and/or zones were rolled out as to what effect they would have: would engineering methods be required to get speeds below 20 mph? Would there have to be heavy traffic calming or could we get away with minor treatments like some alteration to median marking? How about some policing, such as is currently done by West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team? Should we rely on fixed cameras (concealed or otherwise) or do we have to go straight on to automatic on-board speed governors?

The idea of 20 mph as a maximum speed for motor vehicles in areas with significant pedestrian traffic has been around for a while. It’s commonplace in parts of Europe such as northern Germany (not exactly a country hostile to the private car!) and was advocated 50 years ago in this country by Buchanan despite his advocacy of a car-centred urban transport system. Driving below 20 mph rather than below 30 mph increases time to react and cuts the potential kinetic energy dispersed on impact, with particular relevance to pedestrian and cyclist safety, and we have known this for some time.

As few commentators (with the exception of such as Ben Goldacre) have pointed out, the issue here is this: a large proportion of drivers (generally the majority) in 20 mph areas simply do not want to obey the law. That’s the bottom line here: if we want a more civilised highway environment it has to be socially unacceptable to use a motor vehicle going over 20 mph on roads with actual or potential significant concentrations of people walking or cycling. Arguing about exactly how to get there is a secondary issue.


Dr Robert Davis, Chair, Road Danger Reduction Forum

Categories: Views

“Who kills whom” and the measurement of danger.

12 March, 2019 - 14:59

In our Charter we give a commitment to: “Find new measures to define the level of danger on our roads. These would more accurately monitor the use of and threat to benign modes.” This post is part of our work at doing that – hopefully it will contribute to debate. It is based on a document by PACTS given to the Transport Committee Active Travel enquiry in December 2018.

In previous posts and discussions, we have spent a lot of time talking about the need to have measures and targets for benign transport modes expressed with a measure of exposure – e.g. casualty rates per distance, or time, or number of trips travelled. Examples are here  and here . In this post we move on to look at the question of: Who Kills/Hurts/Endangers Whom?

(Note: The data is from Reported Road Casualties GB (RRCGB) 2017, Transport Statistics GB (TSGB) 2017 and Domestic Road Freight Stats GB (DRFSGB) 2017)

PACTS tweeted that their submission: ”Includes suggestions for better analysis of road casualty stats which would show harm as well as vulnerability and encourage danger reduction and active travel policies.” The purpose of this post is to build on their analysis to do just that. Here I refer to a key section of their document (I have abridged it – I strongly suggest you read the original).

“…in relation to understanding the risks and benefits of active travel, Reported Road Casualties Great Britain still has significant limitations:

• It does not distinguish benign modes from dangerous ones, i.e. those modes sustaining the casualties and those inflicting them.

• It assesses at length, with graphs, rates and commentary, the “vulnerability” of different road users, mainly of active travel modes.

• It does not present the other side of the equation, i.e. danger and casualties suffered by other road users in collisions with motorised modes – the number or rate of third party casualties associated with cars, buses and HGVs. Using the same RRCGB data, PACTS has done a preliminary analysis which shows an alternative picture of the risks by mode. (See graphs below.)

• It does not clearly convey that, for the vast majority of UK road users, they are much more likely to be killed in a car, or by car, than any other mode.

• It compares user fatality rates per distance travelled, concluding that walking and cycling are “high risk” modes whilst cars, buses and HGVs are low risk. This implies the trips are similar and interchangeable, which generally they are not. The average person travels over 5,000 miles by car/van per year. By comparison, the average person walks and cycles fewer than 300 miles per year. Even under the most optimistic CWIS (The Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy) scenario, there is no prospect that these trips or miles would be substituted on a like for like basis.

• Casualty numbers and risks are often measured in terms of those Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI). However, as there are approximately 13 reported serious injuries for every one fatality, KSI is really a measure of serious injuries. In addition, the UK definition of Serious Injury used in STATS19 is very broad. It ranges from cuts and minor fractures to dying more than 30 days after the collision. Whilst this may be a reasonable definition for road safety purposes, it makes KSIs a very crude assessment of risk. This has a bearing on assessing the risks of active travel. Cyclists have a much higher ratio of reported serious injuries to fatalities (36:1 in 2017) than car occupants (11:1) and the percentage of clinically serious (MAIS3+) injuries for cyclists admitted to hospital was lower (9%) than for any other road user group. In other words, cyclists may be involved in more KSIs but they are predominantly minor “serious injuries”.

So, below we have PACTS giving a basic illustration of casualties killed in collisions with the mode in question, as well as the users of that mode:


(Incidentally, this is a good illustration of the point PACTS make that the vast majority of people killed on GB roads in 2017 died in collisions involving cars or vans.)

Teasing this out a little, take a look at the illustration below from SWOV in the Netherlands (with a population 3.9 times smaller), also for deaths in 2017.

Transport mode victim (slachtoffer) against Transport mode third party (tegenpartij)

Of course, this does not imply legal responsibility is always that of the user of the third party. Nevertheless, I think this is a good indicator of “Who Kills Whom”.

Where this gets more interesting is in the next graphic from the PACTS document, where the number of non-users of the mode killed in collisions is expressed as a rate with exposure in terms of distance travelled by the mode:

(Source: RAS 40004 P.235 -237 )

Figure Three gets closer to an understanding of which modes (or modes’ use) are implicated in the deaths of other road users. This in turn will lead us to assessing which modes pose more or less threat to others on the road (the two are different, albeit related, characteristics).
I want to refine this further by considering involvement of other modes in pedestrian deaths only, to allow for a more direct comparison. Furthermore, we see that according to Road type TSGB0702 TSGB0709 Percentage of road traffic and road length on different road types

LENGTH                                    TRAFFIC
Motorway                                    1%                                             21%
Urban A roads                            3%                                             15%
Rural A roads                              9%                                             29%
Urban minor roads                  33%                                             21%
Rural minor roads                    54%                                             14%

This means that 65% of traffic (i.e. motor traffic) is on roads used relatively less by pedestrians and cyclists.

So, to make a better comparison of involvement in pedestrian deaths I have shown in the next figure pedestrian deaths by involvement with other road users (per billion vehicle kilometres) in urban areas only, again for 2017.

Bicycle                                                    0.8

Motorcycle                                            4.9

Car                                                          1.4

Bus/Coach                                             0.7

Van                                                          0.6

HGV                                                         13

All                                                            1.6

Pedestrians killed in collision with other road users on urban roads per billion vehicle kilometres FIGURE FOUR

(Apologies for tabular representation only: problems with uploading the graphic)

Source: RAS 30018 p.114  Discussion: Involvement in deaths by mode…

Firstly, I have used deaths for uniformity and as these are the most reliable statistics, with fewer problems from non-reporting. However, this does mean that analysis is limited by some very small numbers, such as the three pedestrians killed in 2017 in collisions with pedal cycles. A different picture can emerge if using the less reliable Serious Injuries figures as well.

Secondly, there are two “stand-out” vehicle classes for involvement in pedestrian deaths – and these are similar to those for all other 3rd parties as shown in Figure Three, namely HGVs and, to a lesser extent, motorcycles.

Thirdly, I have separated out cars from vans in Figure Four: vans have the lowest involvement per billion vehicle kilometres travelled. I have to say I don’t know the reason for this. (Please feel free to send in comments on this and other issues below.)

Fourthly, buses and coaches seem to be very low for involvement in both Figures Three and Four.

Fifthly, while bicycles are at a very low level of involvement, they are not as low as pedestrians in Figure Three.

I now want to make a further step in the analysis of these figures which looks at what lies behind these levels of involvement. This is where we look at potential lethality of different modes.

…and potential lethality of modes

So: why is it that we see these differences in involvement?

1. HGVs. For some time we have known that HVs are heavily represented (compared to their modal share) in urban cyclist deaths – approximately 50% of cyclist deaths in London for the last couple of decades, despite lorries being some 5% of traffic. The figures for pedestrians are similar. Attention has been on the “blind spots” for HGV drivers that make it difficult for them to see pedestrians or cyclists near their vehicle, and the gap between vehicle body and tarmac, which is large enough for pedestrians and cyclists to be run over by what are very heavy vehicles. So far, so straightforward.

2. Buses and coaches. There are design features on modern buses which reduce danger to pedestrians: unlike HGVs there is Direct Vision on many, and generally a smaller gap between bus body and tarmac. Bus drivers are professionally trained: but so are HGV drivers, and bus drivers are under pressure to reduce “headway” and have other pressures on them. So the position of buses and coaches in both figures three and four is very low, and indeed lower than we might expect.

3. Motorcycles. The involvement rate is high here. We know that motorcycle users have a far higher user KSI rate than other modes by some way. But why the especially high figure for involvement with other users generally and pedestrians, as shown in figures three and four?

4. Cars. Again, although the figure for cars is higher than buses/coaches and bicycles, it is still a lot lower than motorcycles. Cars have a wider frontal area than motorcycles and can be used at similar speeds – so why is their involvement so much lower than motorcycles?

I want to answer these questions by referring to two key factors which have to be considered as we work backwards from involvement rates to a proper measure of danger:

Potential kinetic energy dispersed on impact

This is the key element of what we mean by “road danger”. It is essentially a product of the MASS of the vehicle (what most people understand as “weight”) and the SPEED it is travelling at when it hits a pedestrian. (When it hits another vehicle, the speed and mass of both vehicles have to be considered).

It’s why we in the Road Danger Reduction movement spend so much time seeing motor vehicle usage as the problem: it isn’t because of the personalities or intentions of drivers, it’s because of the physics involved. (This point is made nicely by the journalist Peter Walker  ).

It’s why anybody concerned with pedestrian safety has been urging communities to accept that motor vehicles should go no more than 20 mph if there are pedestrians in the vicinity. Partly this is because of the biomechanics of injury sustained by pedestrians – 20 mph is at the upper limit – but also because as speed goes up the energy potentially released increases exponentially: the usual figures quoted for pedestrian death rates in collisions with motor vehicles are 10% (or lower) at 20 mph; 50% at 30 mph and right up to 90% at 40 mph.

This is all shown above by comparing motorcycle and bicycle involvement rates: essentially motorcycles can be used at much higher speeds than bicycles (particularly well above 20 mph) and also have much greater mass.

But it doesn’t explain why cars, vans and buses are as low as they are. Buses tend not to go that much over 20 mph on routes in London, but cars and vans can and do. What is the reason for these levels of involvement being lower than we might expect just from looking at potential kinetic energy released on impact?

Pedestrian behaviour

A crucial element of the Road Danger Reduction approach is to accept that human beings constantly adapt their behaviour to their perceptions of danger. After some time being exposed to motor traffic – and the instructions from anxious parents and others – pedestrians tend to develop an awareness of what may pose a threat to their safety. This will affect how they actually behave in the highway environment.

So, I would suggest the following possible explanations for the data shown above:
1. Despite some awareness of the danger posed by HGVs, there is a problem with non-Direct Vision HGV cabs, and the consequences of making even small mistakes are very extreme. The figures for Serious Injuries (SIs) are less than twice as high as those for Killed – whereas the average for all vehicles is over ten times as high.

 2. Buses are very large and generally coloured red in London, taking up predictable positions in traffic, frequently in specific bus lanes. This would suggest a high level of pedestrian awareness of the threat, and accordingly a higher level of care taken.

3. By contrast with 1 and 2. above, motorcycles have a much narrower profile and are less easy for pedestrians to predict. I would argue this is a key factor in the high level of motorcycle involvement in pedestrian deaths.

4. Cars are a lot easier to see than motorcycles, and along with vans always make up a significant part of the traffic on roads in urban areas. People expect them. Therefore their involvement rate is lower than motorcycles, and not much higher than bicycles.

5. So why are bicycles at the level of involvement that they are? Their lack of mass and speed puts them far below motorcycles, with which they have a similar profile. But why are they not that far below cars (and possibly even at the same sort of level as vans)? I would suggest that pedestrians are not only less likely to be aware of bicycles because of the narrower profile, but also that pedestrians are aware that the danger level (because of lower speed and mass) is so much lower. This may be amplified by the fact that bicycling tends not to be seen as a “serious” form of transport in the UK. (I would urge readers who both drive and cycle in an urban area to consider this: do you find that pedestrians are more willing to step out in front of you when you are cycling or driving?)


I have attempted to present collision involvement rates, but also look at what lies behind them. This should indicate where practitioners should focus their attention when it comes to reducing danger. As ever, the indications are that attention should be paid to motor vehicles of all types – with particular issues around each of the motorised modes – before cyclists. Finally, we note that this type of discussion is unusual among transport professionals, and hope that it sparks comment and debate.

Categories: Views