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Calls for scheme to protect cyclists travelling on Suffolk’s roads following hit and run incidents

PUBLISHED: 14:19 17 July 2017

Patrick Crew of Boxford Bike Club is calling for Operation Close Pass to be brought to Suffolk to safeguard cyclists on the county's roads
Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Patrick Crew of Boxford Bike Club is calling for Operation Close Pass to be brought to Suffolk to safeguard cyclists on the county's roads Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Archant

Cyclists in Suffolk are pushing for the introduction of a scheme to reduce dangerous overtaking of bikes by motor vehicles on the county’s roads.

The call to bring in the Operation Close Pass initiative comes after a cyclist was knocked off his bike near Sudbury by a van driver who did not stop. It was the second ‘hit and run’ in the area involving a cyclist in a fortnight.

The rider, who did not want to be named, was on a road close to Borley Church on July 9 when a white van accelerating up the hill passed too close and clipped his helmet. He suffered concussion, with a sore upper back and neck and was taken to hospital.

He recalled: “I went into the rut at the side of the road to avoid it [the van], but I believe I then counterbalanced myself and hit my helmet on the van.

“I was left lying in the road – conscious at the time, but drifted in and out whilst waiting for the ambulance.”

Patrick Crew, who is a member of Boxford Bike Club and Cycle Club Sudbury, says Operation Close Pass will help prevent similar incidents.

The scheme, which has been introduced in other parts of the UK is led by roads policing units, and involves plain clothes police officers on bikes targeting roads with a high number of reported “near misses”.

Drivers who pass dangerously close are identified, stopped by police and offered road-side education on how to pass cyclists safely. Officers also look out for cyclists behaving dangerously.

Mr Crew said: “Cycling at all levels is booming in the area and I would like to make it safer for all, whether it’s a child riding a bike to school, someone popping to the local shops or a club member enjoying a ride at the weekend.

“Those riding bikes also need to act according to the Highway Code and law. People riding bikes though are far more vulnerable by definition. If motorists take a few seconds longer when passing a cyclist, it could prevent potentially fatal consequences.”

Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt, of Norfolk and Suffolk police, said the Close Pass scheme highlights the need for motorists to give cyclists space and reminds cyclists to ride considerately.

He added: “Suffolk and Norfolk Constabularies are planning to introduce the Close Pass initiative later in the summer in both counties. Preparations are in hand and a launch date is expected soon.”

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