DOZENS of motorists were stopped yesterday as part of an initiative aimed at reducing risks of road cycling.  

Wilshire Police, Swindon and Wiltshire councils and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue worked on this campaign - known as Operation Close Pass - to raise awareness of the dangers of passing cyclists too closely or too fast.

During the operation, a pedal cycle equipped front and rear-facing cameras was ridden by a, highly trained and experienced cyclist along the B3104 Semington Road, Melksham.

Traffic management officer from the Roads Safety Unit, Barney Appleton said: “We were pleased with the results of the operation this morning in that we only had to pull over 12 motorists about the nature of their driving in relation to cyclists.

“An additional four drivers were stopped for vehicle defects.

“The majority of drivers seemed to have been taking heed of previous advice about leaving at least 1.5m gap when passing a cyclist at 30mph.”

Anyone who has passed too close to the cyclist was stopped by uniformed officers and given a short lesson on sharing the road space safely.

Alongside education, officers also looked at both driver and vehicle legality, vehicle condition and the eyesight standard of those drivers stopped.

Barney added: "It is important that we continue to educate drivers about the need to share road space. Last year we sadly had two tragic deaths of two cyclists on Wiltshire's roads and 139 injuries of which 26 were serious."

"Whilst Operation Close Pass has a number of aims, it is primarily about educating the motorist in safe passing distances, something that drivers often have difficulty in judging whilst sitting behind the wheel. By showing them the marked-out distances, drivers can put themselves in the place of the rider to appreciate just how much room is necessary in order to patiently pass in a safe manner."