POLICE in Sussex have taken another step towards launching a crackdown on drivers who overtake cyclists in a dangerous way.

Last week Sussex Police officers observed colleagues in Hampshire who were conducting a “close pass” programme in which undercover officers on bikes identified drivers flouting the Highway Code, endangering cyclists by not giving them sufficient room.

The bicycle police were followed by colleagues on motorbikes, who flagged down offending drivers and educated them on the correct approach.

A similar scheme in the West Midlands led to a dramatic reduction in casualties and Brighton’s cyclists have said they would like to see such a programme being rolled out here.

Becky Reynolds, campaigns officer for the campaign group Bricycles, said: “We would welcome Sussex Police conducting a close pass initiative - we think this is a fantastic initiative which will improve cyclists’ safety and other road users’ safety as well.

“Because if people are overtaking cyclists too close they’re likely to be doing other dodgy things as well.”

The recommended safe distance is for drivers to allow for a bike to be used 75cm from the kerb and then giving another 1.5m space around the cyclist. The space is needed to ensure cyclists are not swept into danger, which can happen even if they are not struck

She added: “It’s not just a matter of hitting the cyclists.

“First of all there’s the very real force of air turbulence - as a large vehicles passes there’s a shock wave which pushes you.

“And the other thing is the fright factor of having a vehicle of any size come up on you too close. If you lose your balance you’ll be forced into an error.

“You’re so much more vulnerable on a bike. You’re only a few inches away from a violent physical injury.

“When this was undertaken in the West Midlands casualties dropped by a fifth and that’s what we want to see in Sussex.

“I’d hope the police will be able to devise a scheme and get it up and running as soon as possible, because there are extra hazards in the winter, it would be ideal it were in place before winter.”

She identified debris, drains, potholes and unwary drivers opening car doors as potential hazards.

A spokeswoman for the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) said: “Sussex Police are currently evaluating Close Pass to see how well it would work on the county’s roads.

“We along with SSRP, recently observed the Hampshire event as part of that evaluation.

“This is on-going and we will use this information, along with that from other forces, to see how the scheme would work in Sussex.”