HM Insights

Operation Close Pass – Protecting Cyclists in Scotland

Recent figures have shown that at least three cyclists per week suffer serious injuries on Scotland's roads.

Cycling Scotland have reviewed ways in which they can tackle this problem, particularly as some locations in Scotland have seen a 77 per cent increase in cycling during lockdown.


A recent survey suggested that two thirds of people in Scotland were unaware that it is a careless driving offence for motorists to "close-pass" a cyclist which means to overtake with less than 1.5 metres space or a car's width when passing. If the case is brought to Court, drivers can be given three points and fined up to £100.00, or receive a criminal conviction for more serious offences.

Under a new policing operation known as 'Operation Close Pass', police officers will be deployed in unmarked bikes with a camera on their handlebars and on the back of their bike to ensure motorists provide sufficient space to cyclists on the roads. Any motorists that fail to do so while overtaking may be pulled over and cautioned or fined for careless or dangerous driving.

Cycling Scotland also advised that when pulled over, the Police will also use this as a chance to educate motorists and they may be given a demonstration on how to overtake safely using a specially-designed mat.

The Communications Chief at Cycling Scotland, Denise Hamilton, said:

"Dedicated cycling lanes, separated from road traffic, are the number one priority to make our roads safer for cycling and as we build this network, we need more education and enforcement. The campaign educates drivers about leaving at least a car's width when passing people on bikes, supported by Police Scotland's Operation Close Pass."

She has asked for greater enforcement activity by both the police and cameras as this has been shown to have a proven impact on improving road behaviour and raising awareness and "with more people taking up cycling in the past year, it's more crucial than ever that we improve safety on our roads."

This operation was also run in conjunction with Operation Cedar, aimed at promoting safety for all road users, including motorists and cyclists.

Road policing constable Paul Whitehead said they are constantly working to make Scotland’s roads safer for everyone and notes that the operation will provide an opportunity to speak to road users and highlight respective responsibilities. He notes that by interacting with motorists, other members of the public at the roadside and by generating wider discussion on social media he hopes that we can improve safety on the roads for everyone.

Get in touch

If you or anyone close to you has been involved in an accident as a cyclist, please don't hesitate to get in touch if you need advice.  Our expert road traffic injury team are happy to help. To speak to a specialist solicitor about making a no win no fee claim freephone: 0800 904 777. 

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