[D]rivers and cyclists will soon see new ‘safe pass’ road safety signs on routes around the county as part of a concerted and co-ordinated effort to save lives on our roads.
The signs will encourage drivers to give plenty of space whilst overtaking cyclists in order to minimise the risk for potential collisions.
With warmer weather on the way, more cyclists will be taking to the roads and drivers can do their bit to help ensure everyone who sets off, returns home safely.
By giving 1.5m of space, cyclists will have room to take action if they come across a pothole or any other obstruction, without putting themselves at risk.
Sergeant Graham Hawley of Cumbria Police said: “The aim of the signs and the campaign is to get drivers thinking about their own driving habits.
“As a driver, do you give cyclists plenty of room when you overtake? Do you wait for a safe and appropriate place to carry out the manoeuvre?
“There are a lot of excellent drivers on our roads. But there are also drivers who see cyclists as a hindrance and seek to get by them as quickly as possible, with no thought to the potential consequences.
“Those are the drivers we are trying to reach.”
Chris Broadbent of Cumbria Road Safety Partnership (CRSP) said: “Our aim at CRSP is to do all we can to reduce the number of serious and fatal collisions on our road.
“If all drivers adopted the 1.5m rule into their driving and gave thought to the safety of themselves and the cyclist before carrying out a manoeuvre, there is no doubt our roads will be a safer place for all.
“Good drivers give cyclists plenty of space.”
Rory Black, of Kendal Cycle Club, was involved in the design of the signs. He said: “It’s going to keep cyclists a lot safer if vehicles are giving cyclists more space. If a cyclist needs to swerve around a pot hole – which there are obviously quite a few of in Cumbria – then there will be plenty of space to get round.
“Also, it’s about just giving a bit more respect on the road as that’s what it’s all about – cyclists giving drivers respect and drivers giving cyclists respect.”
Karen Gee of Kendal Cycle Club said: “It’s a really important message. I run the junior side of the club and we are seeing more and more young people getting on their bikes.
“We need to make sure every driver is seeing cyclists and people rather than just a bike.”
Kelly Smith of Team 13 (cycle club based in Whitehaven) said: “Some people, if they don’t ride a bike, don’t understand what it’s like. Factors like the wind and avoiding pot holes – that’s why cyclists need to be given plenty of room.”
Rob Tweddle, of West Coast Velo (also based in Whitehaven) said: “Everyone has experienced it (drivers getting too close). We’ve all had it. I’ve become a bit immune to it now, riding to Sellafield every day.
“Getting this message out is certainly a good idea and a positive thing.”
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said: “This is a very sensible piece of advice. As a cyclist myself, I know only too well how it feels when vehicles drive too close. It is potentially very dangerous, as cyclists are so vulnerable. I would urge all drivers to take notice of this important safety message.”
Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, said: “The landscape in Cumbria is unique and as the main summer visitor season gets underway, it is a major draw for cyclists from outside the county who want to explore on two wheels. The new ‘safe pass’ road safety signs are a great idea for cyclists and drivers alike, particularly people who are unfamiliar with the county’s roads, to help everyone travel around our stunning county in the safest way possible.”