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Police to use close pass mats to teach motorists how to safely overtake cyclists

Police forces are to be offered equipment to educate drivers who overtake cyclists too closely.

The close pass mats will be used by officers to encourage these motorists not to encroach within 5ft (1.5m) of cyclists.

West Midlands Police (WMP) recorded a 50% reduction in reported close pass offences in the first three months after it began using the mats in September last year.

Charity Cycling UK launched a crowd-sourced funding campaign this week to raise £12,000 to buy enough mats for every force in the UK.

It took less than 48 hours to reach the target.

Pc Mark Hodson, who was involved in the WMP operation, said: "I hope every other police force will take advantage of this opportunity that Cycling UK and their backers created, and put an end to close passing for good.

"Drivers who pose the greatest threat on our roads need to get their house in order, or we'll do it for them."

Some 3,430 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads in the year ending September 2016, up 2% on the previous 12 months, according to Department for Transport figures.

Research led by Dr Rachel Aldred, of Westminster University, found that close passes account for nearly a third of all threatening encounters experienced by cyclists.

Cycling UK chief executive Paul Tuohy said the aim of the mat campaign was "helping out our cash-strapped forces to make our roads that little bit safer".

He went on: "West Midlands' operation has not only worked, but it's also gone down well with cyclists, road safety bodies and other police forces.

"It made sense to help give it that little bit of a push to roll it out nationally."

The mats are expected to be distributed to forces from next month.

Gloucester Police welcomed the impending arrival of the equipment, saying they are "determined to raise the responsibility" of all road users.

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