'It's beyond belief' - Drivers and cyclists unite to condemn £5,000 fine for breaking 1m safety zone

'It's beyond belief' - Drivers and cyclists unite to condemn £5,000 fine for breaking 1m safety zone

How close is too close?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Cyclists and drivers have both hit out at Government proposals to fine motorists £5,000 for driving too close to bicycles. 

New laws would put a legally enforceable limit of no closer than one metre for vehicles passing a cyclist, with potential fines of up to £5,000 for any transgression. 

But Hugh Bladon, from the Alliance of British Drivers, claims the punishment is both disproportionate and unenforceable. 

"To come up with a fine of £5,000 is just beyond belief," he told Julia Hartley-Brewer. "Who is going to measure whether you have achieved your one metre or not?

"We must try and eliminate these things, but you don't eliminate them by having ridiculously high penalties."

Bladon found an unlikely bedfellow in Donnachadh McCarthy, co-founder of the pressure group Stop Killing Cyclists. McCarthy agreed that the level of financial penalty seems disproportionate, but argued that the passing margin should be increased. 

"This is really about tackling the minority of drivers who don't do this safely," he said. "I am in agreement [with Hugh Bladon], a £5,000 fine would be ridiculous unless a death or serious injury occurred from it.

"Ideally what we want is roads to be designed so when we make a mistake, it doesn't result in a death penalty."

"[The one metre gap] would be enough up to 30 miles per hour, however if you go over 30 miles per hour you really need 1.5 metres, anybody who's stood beside a passing train at a train station knows you really need some space.

"The problem with the highway code is it's very vague, it says [drivers should leave] as much room as you would provide for overtaking a car, for some car drivers they would overtake by an inch."

Ideally what we want is roads to be designed so when we make a mistake, it doesn't result in a death penalty
Donnachadh McCarthy, Stop Killing Cyclists