Sheffield police slam 'depressing' level of poor driving in 'close pass' cycling operation on Snake Pass

Sheffield police have criticised a ‘depressing level of selfish and poor behaviour’ after nearly a fifth of overtaking drivers were stopped in a ‘close pass’ cycling operation.

By David Walsh
Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 5:25 pm

Inspector Kevin Smith teamed up with Paralympic star Dame Sarah Storey for an hour cycling the Snake Pass, between Rivelin Valley Road and Cutthroat Bridge.

They were passed 110 times - prompting supporting officers to stop 20 drivers ‘for advice purposes’. A second pair of police cyclists were also ‘close passed’ a few times, resulting in five more roadside stops.

A further five motorists will be ‘caught up with by post’, Insp Smith said.

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From left: Insp Kevin Smith, in blue, Dame Sarah Storey, police and crime commissioner Alan Billings and Sheffield North West Neighbourhood Team.

Ten will be prosecuted for offences from careless driving to contravening double white lines.

Friday’s operation was staged by Sheffield North West Neighbourhood Team.

Insp Smith said: “It seems many drivers are unaware that if a cyclist is travelling at more than 10 miles per hour there is no loophole to allow them to overtake on double white lines, and we saw a depressing level of selfish and poor behaviour throughout the day.

“Sarah’s Garmin radar detected 110 overtakes over the two laps we completed, and of those, 20 were stopped for advice purposes, which is disappointing.”

Dame Sarah Storey, Insp Kevin Smith, in cycling gear, and Sheffield North West Neighbourhood Team.

The A57 is one of the roads police receive the most complaints about, he added. The operation was part of Project EDWARD activities (Every Day without a Road Death).

Insp Smith wryly noted the number of angry drivers.

“It was not the most stress-free afternoon of cycling, with lots of people apparently unable to overtake without the assistance of their horn (perhaps it is linked to a booster system),” he said.

Cycling two abreast was often the safest approach, he added.

Insp Kevin Smith and Dame Sarah Storey on the Snake Pass.

He added: “The A57 is a long climb with lots of double white lines due to blind bends. It is often safer to cycle two abreast on these sections to reduce the temptation of some motorists to try and ‘squeeze’ the cyclist to the side of the road by overtaking on a blind bend and then pulling back left to avoid a head on collision with traffic approaching at 50 miles per hour.

“Even when cycling solo, it is often safest to ride in primary position on these bends, to ensure that you are visible.”

Dame Sarah is the active travel commissioner for Sheffield City Region.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.