Cycle cops set to film motorists on Doncaster streets

Police are using cameras fixed to bicycles to keep an eye on motorists
Police are using cameras fixed to bicycles to keep an eye on motorists

Police on bicycles are filming drivers on the streets of Doncaster - to protect cyclists.

Community support officers are hitting the streets on bikes which have been specially adapted to carry small cameras which will record any dangerous driving that could put riders at risk.

The scheme is being piloted in Doncaster and if it is successful, it may be rolled out across the whole of South Yorkshire.

South Yorkshire Police has confirmed it has launched what it is calling the Safe Pass Initiative

Officers will treview the footage they record and any motorist found to be driving too closely will be subject to follow-up investigation.

Inspector Craig Clifton said: “Following concerns raised by several of our county’s cycling groups and feedback from cyclists in South Yorkshire, we will now roll out a Safe Pass initiative.

“This is as a direct result of the public’s feedback and we hope this demonstrates that we do listen to your concerns and will act to address the issues you raise.

“We are in the early stages of introducing this scheme in our force area, so it will be subject to review. We will also continue to investigate allegations of careless driving locally which are brought to our attention.

“We hope this scheme makes a positive difference to the experience of cyclists on our roads, with the ultimate aim of raising awareness and improving road safety for cyclists."

The scheme which has now already started in the borough, will comprise of two phases, with riders initially assessing the sort of offences which take place.

A second phase will see enforcement action start to be taken.

Doncaster Supt Neil Thomas said police in the borough had not traditionally received many complaints about drivers putting cyclists at risk, and did not think there was much conflict between road users in the borough.

But he added: "A number of cycle groups have said they think there is an issue, but cyclists are just not reporting it.

"It was our intention to act in Doncaster because the feedback is that at times there can be conflict. We want to be supporting the cycle groups.

"But Doncaster has good cycle routes alongside many of the main roads so there should not be to many occasions where bikes and cars come into conflict.

"Doncaster has been putting itself forward as a cycle friendly town and this supports that."

The move has been welcomed by cyclists.

Martyn Maltby, the president of Doncaster Wheelers cycle club and owner of Don Valley Cycles, said similar schemes had been run in other parts of the country.

He said: "If you're using a bike on the road, you often feel like the poor relation and sometimes motor vehicles can cause distress.

"I've been cycling for 30 years and I think you get a bit more immune to cars passing close to you, and better at reading the road. But I do get a lot of stories from customers who stopped cycling on the road and now only go on routes like old railway lines or Sandall Beat.

"Some riders are staying off the roads because of the high volume of traffic and the speeds some cars go. There is also the issue of some drivers using their mobile phones.

"When there is an incident, a lot of cyclists don't even report it because they don't expect anything to be done, although I encourage them to report it so that the police can get a better picture of what's happening. A lot of customers have told me they have had near misses, and I would say it happens weekly.

"I would like to hope this will make a difference, if it means people think they need to consider the manner of their driving."

He said Bawtry Road had traditionally been a difficult area to ride because of narrow sections of road between the kerb and central bollards, where cars sometimes travelled at 60mph. He said there was a cycle path there now, but riders did not always use it.

Mr Maltby admitted cyclists were not always blameless, with some contributing to the problems by riding at night without lights, going through red lights, or riding in pedestrian areas. He added more alternative routes would help riders.