A new law has been introduced today that will punish drivers who get too close to cyclists.
Transport Minister Jesse Norman announced the new law which gives the police powers to fine drivers who pass cyclists within one and a half metres - roughly one and a half times the height of the average person.
The new laws also look to punish drivers who stray into cycle stop boxes at traffic lights, and drivers who open their doors without due care and attention to nearby cyclists - an act known as car-dooring.
"We will prosecute motorists who endanger vulnerable road users"
Speaking to the press, Mr Norman, who is at a conference in Manchester today, said “More drivers are made aware of the need to leave safe distances when overtaking cyclists.” He’s expected to tell the conference that “We shouldn’t only concentrate on catching and punishing drivers when they make a mistake but try to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to drive safely alongside cyclists in all conditions.”
This change in the law follows a government review into cycling that showed that 448 pedestrians and 102 cyclists were killed on UK roads in 2016 alone. A further 8,537 people sustained serious injuries in the same year.
The new law looks to radically reduce those numbers, not simply by punishing drivers, but creating greater awareness of how to drive safely around cyclists. Police forces and learner drivers are to receive extra training on how to ensure cyclists are safe when they are also on the road.
£500,000 of funding has been made available to help driving instructors awareness of cycle safety. Bikeability, a government-funded training standard for cyclists – will operate the training for driving instructors over the next twelve months.
CEO of cycling organisation free2cycle, Eric Craig, welcomed the new law, saying “As a fellow champion for transforming wellbeing through cycling, I applaud the announcement by transport minister Mr Norman of on-the-spot fines for drivers who pass too close to cyclists.”
West Midlands police have already started fining drivers £150 for passing too closely to cyclists. PC Mark Hodson, from the regional forces Road Harm Reduction Unit, said “Motorists are becoming more considerate and understand we will prosecute them if they endanger vulnerable road users. We’ve seen reports of close-passes halve in the West Midlands since we started the project and the number of cyclists seriously hurt in collisions fall by a fifth − that’s incredible against a backdrop of increasing numbers of people cycling on our roads.”
Hodson went on to warn “Drivers who endanger vulnerable road users need to understand that we run operations to catch them, and if they avoid our officers we can still prosecute them using footage provided by cyclists and other motorists.”
The new law comes into affect across the nation today.