Tag Archives: Road Danger Reduction

Close Passes and Camera Submissions

Avon & Somerset Police close pass mat used in #OpClosePass

At the July Cycle Forum Bristol, Damien Devanny, from Avon and Somerset’s Road Safety Department, talked about their work on reports of motorists close passing cyclists and how the police deal with camera submissions.

The close passes, reported using Avon and Somerset Police’s online form, are added to their database of problem locations but this does not lead to any follow-up action in relation to the driver: something Bristol Road Justice have long argued they ought to do.

Where camera submissions of dangerous driving are made, however, they are assessed by a team of traffic cops. During the last year Avon and Somerset Police (ASP)received:

221 submissions from cyclists of which

  • 59 (27%) were forwarded for intended prosecution
  • 127 (57%) of drivers were sent warning letters
  • 35 (16%) cases no further action was taken

An issue raised and accepted by the police was that ASP needs to do more to inform cyclists of the outcome of their submission. Nevertheless, overall the figures suggest that officers professionally assess the evidence and decide on a range of possible actions.

It is instructive to compare these figures to the even more serious road traffic collisions which result in death and injury to cyclists. In 2017, the last year for which we have figures, 232 cyclists were killed or injured on Bristol’s roads and the police were involved in the incident. In:

  • 12 (5%) cases drivers were prosecuted
  • 12 (5%) cases drivers were required to attend education courses
  • 207 (89%) cases no further action was taken

(A small number of ancillary offences, eg no insurance, were also prosecuted.)

Overwhelmingly, these case are dealt with by non-specialist officers who, we have been told by individual officers, have piles of paperwork on their desks and clearly they do not give such incidents the priority they deserve. In short, the results speak for themselves.

Report close passes and submit camera evidence by going to:




Non-collision injuries in Bristol – what can be done about ice?

Of course, cycling is overall a safe and very healthy activity, with cyclists being much healthier overall than non-cyclists. But there are risks which we need to be reducing, and they’re not always the ones that attract the most attention.  Research in Bristol and published by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents makes this point ROSPA non-collision-case-study.

In fact, non-collision incidents are a leading cause of harm to cyclists. “Contact with ice” alone accounts for 17% of hospital admissions for cyclists. We’ve set out the Bristol stats in a handy infographic Cycling hospital admissions in 2016

We’ve previously highlighted the difficulties of getting meaningful data on safety, and the report says that “according to Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), cycling non- collision Incidents (NCI’s) (i.e. incidents in which no other road user was involved) accounted for 10,737 admissions to hospital during 2016/2017. This represents 64% of all injury-related admissions of cyclists. It is estimated that only 4% of non-collision incidents are known by the police  and recorded in STATS198.”

The analysis then compared the numbers of non-collision incidents caused by different factors with the numbers of admissions resulting from collisions with cars, pick-up trucks or vans and collisions with fixed or stationary objects.  In total, all non-collision incidents cause more than 4 times the number of admissions caused by collisions with cars, pick-up trucks and vans.

A survey of more than 1000 cyclists recorded the details of their non-collision incidents, and showed that “26% of all reported non-collision incidents (including 17% of those that resulted in admission) happened as a result of slipping on ice, and that 35% of all incidents reported in the survey occur in the months of December, January and February. Slipping on ice was by far the single largest reported cause, followed by slipping on wet roads (8%) and slipping on ‘soil, gravel, mud, wet rock, etc’, (6%).”

Now of course we want to ensure that roads and cycle paths are gritted, including the Bristol Bath Railway Path, but there’s a further role for ice-forecasting in avoiding injury.  NHS Bristol commissioned the Think TwICE campaign from local charity Lifecycle. This sought to encourage employers to help cyclists plan ahead and get information about bus routes, car-share opportunities or the employer’s perspective on working from home, aiming to reduce the pressure to cycle to work in frozen conditions because there are no other options.

Overall the report suggests the way forward should be:

  • Working with employers to help employees manage the risks of commuting journeys in freezing conditions
  • Raising awareness
  • Improving weather forecasting
  • Gritting cyclepaths

Stay Wider of the Rider

Does your blood boil when the driver of a vehicle overtakes you with inches to spare, only for you to meet them seconds later at the lights?

London Cycling Campaign have launched a new campaign to tackle the problem of the “close pass”. That is, drivers overtaking people on bikes with little room to spare, which at best is intimidating and at worse, life-threatening: https://staywider.org

Should we be running the same campaign here in Bristol? A few months ago, Avon & Somerset Police did run a successful, albeit brief trial to educate and warn drivers of the problem. But the will to continue with this has fizzled out, despite evidence this is a cost-effective way to save lives and make cycling appealing to more people.

So here’s your chance to do something to change this. Join our campaign team and help us rid Bristol of this problem. Please drop us a line or come along to one of our face to face catch ups.

The London campaign has a petition to the Department for Transport which anyone can sign.

BBC: Why are so few motorists who injure cyclists ever prosecuted?

UPDATE: The programme is available on BBC iPlayer until mid March 2018.


BBC’s “Inside Out West” programme on Monday evening will be addressing the question of why so few motorists who kill or seriously injure cyclists are ever prosecuted. This reflects a chronic failure of the British justice system which Bristol Cycling and national cycling groups (such as Cycling UK, British Cycling, RoadPeace and Cyclenation) have been campaigning against for many years.

Only last week, Bristol Road Justice wrote to Avon & Somerset Police to challenge recent statistics which reveal A&SP’s reluctance to prosecute motorists who police officers’ reports suggest were at fault in injuring cyclists. For a sample of 12 incidents on the Gloucester Road, for example, A&SP took no further action in 8 cases.

Members of Bristol Cycling and RoadPeace have provided research and evidence to BBC journalists working on the creation of this programme, which is broadcast on Monday 12th. Feb 2018 at 7:30pm on BBC1 (typically channel 001) (but not on BBC1 HD channel 101). The report is also expected to be discussed on BBC TV’s “Points West” local news programme and on various radio shows.

Cycling Casualties and Police Enforcement Action

Bristol Road Justice has been in contact with Avon and Somerset Police as to the action they are taking with regard to enforcement action against dangerous drivers.

Headline facts

In 2016 police recorded that 285 cyclists were injured in road traffic collisions (ten year average 262). In 26 cases the injuries were recorded as “serious”. (Warning: many incidents go unrecorded and the level of injury is often miscategorised as less serious.)

In the same period hospitals in Bristol admitted 47 seriously injured cyclists (ten year average 39).

  • of 68 pedestrians admitted due to traffic collisions, 62 had been hit by a motor vehicle, 6 had been in collisions with cyclists.

Although figures for cycling casualties were up on the previous year, the figures do not show a long-term upward trend. Nor, given the increase in the number of cyclists over the last ten years, do they show that cycling is a dangerous form of transport. That is not to say that the level of death, injury and intimidation on Bristol’s roads is in anyway acceptable.

Police response

We asked the police what action they had taken in relation to a sample of cases where their reports suggested the driver was at fault:

  • For incidents recorded as resulting in “serious” injury, we looked at a sample of 14 cases, in 6 of which the police decided to take no further action.
  • For a sample of 12 incidents on the Gloucester Road, the police took no further action in 8 cases.
  • The n.f.a. cases exclude those where the cyclist was recorded as not wishing to pursue matters.
  • Most concerning was the Force’s lack of action with regard to car doorings where only 1 case out of 15 was prosecuted.

The impression given is that Avon and Somerset Police will not even consider enforcement action unless very serious and obvious injury is caused and this partly explains why the majority of Gloucester Road and car dooring cases were not pursued.

That someone knocked off their bike by a carelessly opened vehicle door is injured is entirely predictable, far less predictable is the extent of their injuries. In fact such incidents can result in fatalities as the recent case of Sam Boulton in Leicester has shown.

We have written to Avon and Somerset Police’s Head of Road Safety and asked for details of their charging policy in such cases.

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