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PCC calls for police to sign up to cycling protection scheme

This road safety week, police and crime commissioner (PCC) David Keane is calling on Cheshire Police to build on the good work they already carry out to protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users by signing up to an education scheme to reduce the number of fatal and serious collisions involving cyclists.

Following a number of cyclist deaths on Cheshire's roads, he supports chief constable Darren Martland in adopting even more of the 'close pass' scheme which educates drivers on how to safely overtake cyclists.

Similar schemes adopted elsewhere have successfully reduced the number of collisions involving cyclists, including in the West Midlands where the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured dropped by a fifth in the first year its 'close pass' scheme was introduced.

PCC David Keane wants the chief constable to bring more of the scheme to Cheshire as part of a new road safety strategy for Cheshire, set to be developed in 2021.

The commissioner recently met with two local groups who are concerned about how safe local residents feel on their bikes.

Active Travel Crewe and Active Travel Congleton are calling for cyclists to be treated as equals on the road and for the dangers they face to be highlighted to other road users.

PCC David Keane said: "Since the national lockdown, we have seen a big increase in the number of people who have taken up cycling and there has recently been a number of fatal collisions involving cyclists in Cheshire.

"Many residents have contacted me expressing their concerns about how safe they feel on their bikes and it was evident from my meeting with the local Active Travel groups that even more needs to be done to protect vulnerable road users.

"In my role to hold Cheshire Police to account on your behalf, I am pushing for it to prioritise proven safety measures to make our roads even safer and build on the work it already carries out as part of its 'fatal 5' initiative.

"This includes working with them to develop the county's road safety strategy 2021 which will look at what measures we can put in place to reduce the number of collisions on our roads.

"Further expansion of the 'close pass' scheme will send a clear message to other road users that they need to be more considerate and that Cheshire Police will prosecute them if they endanger cyclists.

"One life lost on our roads is one too many. I want cyclists in Cheshire to feel safe on the roads and for drivers to have the right knowledge. Together, I hope we can reduce the number of lives lost and prevent another family from losing a loved one."

Superintendent Jo Marshall-Bell, from Cheshire Constabulary's roads and crime unit, added: "As part of our ongoing 'fatal five' activity to educate around road safety in Cheshire, we are encouraging all road users to share the road together safely, abide by the law and be considerate to other road users at all times.

"The expanded close pass scheme will build on the education, engagement and enforcement work Cheshire Constabulary already carries out to make Cheshire's roads safer by bringing in close pass mats, cycles on turbo trainers and VR headsets, with also the potential for officers on plain bikes with cameras to be deployed to ensure motorists are passing cyclists safely.

"Cyclists are some of our most vulnerable road users and we know that a 'close pass' can not only present danger, it can also be intimidating. The scheme helps motorists understand why they should give cyclists room when overtaking."

Editor's Note:- As a cyclist in and around Audlem, I certainly would not wish to be involved in a Road Accident! Personally I always wear a High Viz jacket or vest for visibility, keep my bike in good order (especially brakes and lights), and wherever possible keep to less busy lanes — not always easy at this time of year with rain, potholes, hedge cuttings, debris etc. Given the increase in walkers on the roads too, I also try to give an audible warning and show common courtesy as I slowly meander down the lanes!