Hampshire Constabulary launched the "Steer Clear" campaign in October 2012.

The Hampshire Constabulary have teamed up with British Cycling to launch a safety campaign called ‘Steer Clear‘.

UPDATE 08/10/2012: The Hampshire Constabulary have announced today that they will be having a Q&A session near to the end of the campaign via their Facebook account (HERE): “Got a question or opinion on our #SteerClear cycle safety campaign? Sgt Darren Ord will be hosting a live chat here at 1pm on Mon, Oct 29.”

The campaign’s stated purpose is to help improve the safety of all people on the roads but their campaign pamphlet only targets the most vulnerable.

Sergeant Darren Ord, who is co-ordinating the campaign, told Heart-FM: “Steer Clear is really important to us, because it is designed purely to save life and stop people being injured on our roads. Our message to cyclists is very simple; be safe and be seen.”

The police later stated via their Facebook account,

“Some cyclists are responsible for collisions just as some car drivers are. This isn’t about blaming one group or another. It’s about educating one group that more often than not finds itself coming off worse in a collision.”

The police will be handing out a leaflet and erecting signs naming the campaign. The pamphlet lists four cycle safety tips and a series of bicycling offences that could result in a £30 fine or court summons.

The police tell people on bicycles to "Steer Clear" of cycle offences.

CRITICISM

There is no advice or list of offenses in the pamphlet for people who are driving cars, motorcycles or heavy goods vehicles. For that reason, there has been criticism of the campaign by some.

A popular online commenter nicknamed Freewheeler stated, “If the police were at all interested in making the roads safer they could start taking driver crime seriously”.

CRASH RESPONSIBILITY

The Department of Transport (DfT) state: Between 2010 and 2011, the percentage of cars and motorcycles exceeding the 30 mph speed limit increased to 47 and 50 per cent respectively.

Most of Whitchurch has a 30mph speed limit.

More concerning, the DfT also state that 71% of heavy goods vehicles exceeded the 40 mph limit on single carriageway non-built-up roads. That is, nearly 3 in 4 people driving large lorries on roads similar to the B3400 leading into Whitchurch are speeding.

In 2011, 57% of pedal cycle fatalities were from a collision with a car, a further 25% with a heavy goods vehicle – in other words, motor vehicles accounted for 82% of all deaths.

The DfT state that in 2011, the main reason reported for crashes is a person failed to look properly (the CTC are currently running a separate campaign on that called STOP-SMIDSY).

In London during 2010, the motor vehicle driver was found to have caused the death or serious injury to a person on a bicycle 56% of the time; Just 6% of the time it was fault of the person on the bicycle (the blame was not clear in the remainder). Recently, the mayor of London was forced to “set the record straight” on his incorrect claim during the mayoral election that it was otherwise.

The police suggest ways they think people on bicycles can improve road safety.

PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY

Dr Walker, a traffic psychologist from Bath University’s Department of Psychology, told the BBC in 2006 that “when drivers overtake a cyclist, the margin for error they leave is affected by the cyclist’s appearance.”

Published, peer reviewed research done by Dr Ian Walker at Bath University found that people riding a bicycle who wear protective helmets are more likely to be knocked down by passing vehicles. The effect of wearing Hi-Viz was not studied in his research.

TRAINING AND TIPS

The bicycling safety tips offered in the Steer Clear pamphlet are:-

  1. Don’t be shy (show other road users where you’re going, look people in the eye)
  2. Filter tips (overtake on the right, divert yourself onto slip roads)
  3. Red lights (don’t run red lights or ride on pavement unless “a lorry is about to squash you”)
  4. Be seen (law requires use of white front light and red read light plus a red rear reflector and four pedal reflectors; consider wearing reflective strips)

A way for people to improve their confidence when riding a bicycle is to take a training course, such as those offered by the local business Hampshire Cycle Training.


References

Note: This article was updated on 8 October 2012 after the police published their own press release and gave a quote about the campaign via their Facebook account.

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