With more people taking to their bikes as a means of exercise and transport during lockdown, I was heartened to see that Operation Close Pass is finally being rolled out in Tayside this summer. The purpose of the operation is to flag up drivers who pass cyclists at a dangerously close distance and to educate them on passing cyclists at a safe distance.
The Courier Pandemic Pedal Power Survey has highlighted how many cyclists have had an accident or near miss on their bike – almost 75% - with many complaining of being close-passed by drivers. This phenomenon has previously been dismissed by Tayside Police so I am pleased to see they are changing their stance and taking this opportunity to educate drivers.
As a cyclist myself, I have been the victim of close passing. I don’t believe that this is deliberate by drivers but instead is more an issue of education. Drivers need to understand how that safe distance should look from the driver seat of their car, whether they are overtaking a cyclist travelling on the passenger side of their car or when they are travelling in the opposite direction overtaking on the cyclists side of the road.
Ultimately as a cyclist and as a lawyer dealing with cyclists who have been involved in accidents, I appreciate just how vulnerable cyclists are out on the road. We have nothing to separate us from the road itself or from vehicles on the road and it means we are at greater risk of suffering serious injuries compared to those travelling in vehicles. I myself have been knocked off my bike by a car and I consider myself lucky that the accident occurred at a junction where the driver was exiting onto the main road at a relatively low speed, meaning my injuries were not as serious as they could have been.
As the roads start to become busier again with lockdown restrictions easing, I hope that firstly steps are taken to provide better infrastructure for cyclists to be kept safe on the roads, although that is clearly a longer term goal. Secondly, I hope that the introduction of Operation Close Pass in the Tayside area will meet its aim of educating drivers and as a result reduce the number of near misses and accidents that cyclists suffer. Because when it comes to cyclist versus vehicle, the cyclist will always be the one to come off worst!
Caroline Kelly is a Partner and Solicitor Advocate in our Specialist Personal Injury team. For further information, please contact Caroline on 01382 346282, email email@example.com, contact any member of our Personal Injury Team on 0800 731 8434