Police chiefs say there is no evidence Dundee needs a scheme tackling dangerous overtaking, but local cyclists are calling for a rethink.
Tayside commander Chief Superintendent Andrew Todd says he cannot justify rolling out Operation Close Pass in the city.
Launched in Scotland in 2017, it targets drivers who fail to give cyclists space when overtaking, with plain-clothes riders radioing ahead to waiting police if they are cut up by motorists.
Offenders are pulled over to be educated on safe overtaking.
Passing too close to cyclists is an offence liable for three points and a £100 fine – a fact 73% of people polled by Cycling Scotland were unaware of.
Councillors favour rolling out Close Pass in Dundee – but when the issue was raised again by Councillor Mark Flynn this week, Ch Supt Todd said there were “other measures” police can use to improve cycle safety.
He said: “There aren’t drivers driving close enough to cause the cyclists to have an accident.
“Targeting (cyclists) will have more benefit than targeting drivers that aren’t causing any accidents – such as those running red lights. But it is being kept under review.”
Mr Flynn said: “Speaking to people over the years, many are put off cycling by the fear of vehicles overtaking too closely. I believe Operation Close Pass (will) help to achieve a more cycle friendly environment.”
The Dundee Cycling Forum claims the evidence against Close Pass is thin on the ground.
Police do not log dangerous overtaking as a specific offence – instead recording it as careless or dangerous driving.
The forum said: “Despite dangerously close passes being a problem in Dundee, police in Tayside have steadfastly refused to take up Close Pass.
“There is no evidence for police to say that (this isn’t an issue).
“The number one reason people do not cycle is fear of traffic. It is not an exaggeration to say that close passes – especially those by large trucks or buses – are truly terrifying.
“We would welcome the opportunity to scrutinise the police’s evidence.”
In response to the forum’s claims, Ch Supt Todd said: “We do record information about collisions and the causation factors and it currently remains that there is insufficient evidence to support claims that close passes of cyclists in Dundee result in collisions. “
Locals quizzed by the Tele believe the city needs to become more cycle-friendly.
Nick Smith, 73, a retired architect, believes the streets are “too tight” for cycling, while Mark Dolan, 31, a nurse, says travelling by bike in Dundee is a “nightmare”.
Skills Development Scotland team leader Ed Blackburn, 40, said: “There needs to be a balance between driver and cyclist awareness.”
Student Caitlin Grainger, 25, said: “There aren’t any cycle paths but it’s OK on the road.”
DC Thomson’s Group Digital Editor Richard Rooney cycles from his home in Monifieth every day – and knows the exactly the risks it can entail for cyclists across the area.
The news that Operation Close Pass is not coming to Dundee is a real disappointment, he writes.
I cycle into work in the city centre every day and, although I’ve been lucky enough to avoid any serious accidents, I see multiple examples of careless and dangerous driving every week.
Close passing is just part of the problem. Tailgating, aggressive revving, beeping and pulling out of junctions are just as common. And just as unnerving.
My answer has been to find a way into work that avoids the busiest routes. Not everyone has that choice.
Of course, there are cyclists who misbehave and go through red lights.
I’m every bit as angry about that as you are. But I see far more cars doing it – and I say this as a driver and a cyclist. So what am I seeing that Chief Superintendent Andrew Todd is not? I see roads dominated by motorised vehicles where most people would be too scared to even contemplate getting on a bike.
Our congested roads and high pollution levels mean we need to get more people out of their cars and on to bikes. This won’t happen until people feel safe. Introducing Operation Close Pass would help. All the evidence from its use elsewhere proves that.
But just as importantly it would confirm that our road policing department recognises and supports cyclists’ right to use the roads and might just start to help make it the everyday way of getting around that it should be for more people.