Following the success of Dorset Police’s innovative Operation Close Pass – Cycle Safe which supports bike safety on the highway, the scheme is being extended to include horse riders and other vulnerable rural road users including pedestrians, farm workers, dog walkers, motorcyclists.
Operation Close Pass - Cycle Safe advocates mutual respect from all road users. Initially this was aimed at drivers and anyone on two wheels, and takes its name from one of the most common hazards that cyclists and bikers face on the roads – namely that drivers come too close when they overtake.
It is suggested that the minimum passing distance when passing a cyclist is at least 1.5m when it is safe to do so. When police carry out an Operation Close Pass, a plain clothed police officer on a cycle reports to supporting patrol colleagues if a vehicle has passed too closely, and then colleagues re-direct any drivers to a safe stopping place where that distance is very clearly represented on a specially produced mat. Drivers are given the option to receive education at the roadside there and then as opposed to a penalty notice for careless and inconsiderate driving.
Most drivers opt for roadside education and also have the option to view video evidence recorded on cameras fixed to the police officer’s cycle. Drivers do agree that it has made them think more about the gap to leave cyclists and how vulnerable they are.
Operation Close Pass – Horse Safe follows the same principles as Cycle Safe but is aimed at horse riders and drivers in more rural areas. A leaflet is available from the Road Casualty Reduction Officer in Poole as well as local businesses and pony clubs, and more information can be found on Dorset Roadsafe website
The leaflet reminds the public that road users have equal rights to use the highway safely and is available to help people understand how to be safe, respectful and considerate around other road users to promote behaviour change. It is packed full of tips for both drivers and horse riders alike. ‘Horse Safe’ will be intelligence led policing and we encourage the public to monitor and notify us of areas of concern where we could potentially visit and run an operation. Riders can report incidents via the Dorset Roadsafe website.
Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Horse riders are a common sight on Dorset’s roads, and the equestrian community plays a really important role in rural life across our county.
“Anyone who knows about horses will realise they can be easily spooked when a car passes too close, so this campaign is about educating motorists to show respect for all road users, and reminding them about the importance of leaving the right amount of space when passing a horse rider – just as they should do when they pass a cyclist.”
The launch of the new scheme was held in partnership with Kingston Maurward College in Dorchester on Friday 8 March. Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill attended along with senior officers from the Alliance Roads Policing Department.
Presentations were given by Dorset Police including the work of the Dorset Police No Excuse road offences enforcement team and wider road safety education by the police and Dorset Road Safety Partnership, and by the British Horse Society.
Operation Close Pass - Horse Safe is supported by the Police and Crime Commissioners of Dorset and Devon & Cornwall and the British Horse Society. The information leaflet together with posters were designed in conjunction with Kingston Maurward College equine students in order to raise awareness for all road users and encourage not only road safety but road respect.
The British Horse Society also needs riders to continue reporting any incidents or accidents to the BHS Horse Accidents website.