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"Too Close For Comfort" Campaign

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    Mark Waters
    Participant

    I expect a number of WSCTC members will have read with interest in CycleClips last week about this campaign. I wrote to Cycling UK about it and my letter to Duncan Dollimore and his response to me are shown below. The bottom line is, PLEASE take a few moments to write emails / letters to the two people mentioned in the manner suggested by Duncan. Personally I can’t think of a better way of making our cycling safer, other than banning cars from the road!

    Duncan, hi

    I’m a West Surrey CTC member and am interested in knowing how we’re doing in getting Surrey Police involved in this campaign. Do we need a bit more clout to bring it about? If it would help I can try and muster some assistance from club members if we get them suitably fired up. A lot of members ride the Surrey roads weekly and we know all about drivers who don’t give us enough room.

    Hope to hear. At present there’s no one in the club doing any campaigning. I’m not saying I want to step up because I do enough as it is, but I do think this campaign is worth a bit of effort. The results seem very promising according to the article.

    Regards

    Mark

    Duncan’ reply:

    I attended a conference in Birmingham last week which was attended by representatives from various police forces, some of whom were doing something to run a close pass operation, some of whom were not quite there yet. There were a couple of officers from Surrey Police there, who were clearly very keen to do this. Being keen does not automatically lead to sign off from senior officers or those who hold the purse strings!

    I am hoping that the conference in Birmingham will have given the “keen” officers around the country some arguments, stats etc to take back to their respective forces to cajoule / persuade senior officers into running a close pass operation. I think we are likely to get better results at this stage by encouraging and selling the benefits of close pass operations, rather than kicking police forces in the teeth for not doing more so far. They all face different resource and financial constraints.

    If you and any other members have a few spare moments I would encourage you to write to the Chie Constable Nick Ephgrave https://www.surrey.police.uk/about-us/senior-leaders/ asking him to consider some form of close pass operation similar to that undertaken by West Midlands Police. The Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro http://www.surrey-pcc.gov.uk/ is also a keen cyclist (he has picture of Mark Cavendish in his office), and it would be worthwhile writing to him as well. The response you will get back from the PCC is that he can’t dictate to the Chief Constable on operational matters, however back in the real world, if the PCC receives several letters on the same issue he will probably walk down the corridor and ask the Chief what he’s doing about this.

    My experience trying to get the close pass operations rolled out across the country has been that police forces are quite thick skinned to criticism – to be fair, they are used to it, as it comes with the job – they are much more receptive to encouragement and engagement (generally), accordingly asking them to do something, and explaining the benefits (20% reduction in cycling casualties in one year in the West Midlands), is likely to be more successful than telling them that they are useless for doing nothing. I would therefore suggest that any correspondence reflect that. It may of course be that at some point we need to change tack, and be more critical of certain police forces, but my feel is that in Surrey there is no direct opposition to this type of operation, they have just been a little slow to get themselves organised and marshal their resources. I would be minded to prompt and encourage first.

    I will be writing to those forces, including Surrey, which have yet to adopt a close pass operation, but some local pressure / encouragement simultaneously would certainly help.

    Kind Regards

    Duncan Dollimore

    If this doesn’t post clearly, send me an email direct and I’ll send you a copy of Duncan’s reply by reply. Thanks

    Mark

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