LOCAL police officers were out in force last week to try and teach motorists about road safety when passing cyclists.

Last Thursday, road policing officers encouraged motorists to give consideration when passing cyclists as part of Operation Close Pass in Ayrshire.

The operation involves drivers who don’t give enough room when passing an unmarked police cyclist being pulled over for a demonstration on how to overtake safely using a specially designed mat.

PC Alan Cook is one of Police Scotland’s local traffic officers and he promotes Operation Close Pass within Ayrshire.

PC Cook explained what the aim of the education is and why it is important to give cyclists enough room.

He said: “We know through our work with Cycling Scotland & Road Safety Scotland that “close passing” is the single biggest deterrent stopping more people from taking to their bikes.

“Some drivers get tunnel vision, their only focus is on getting from A to B as quickly as possible. They don’t pay any attention to vulnerable road users and we’ve attended some horrific scenes where cyclists have been wiped out by drivers who’ve not even seen them.

“Drivers need to consider that a cyclist they are overtaking could be a police officer − and, if they don’t pass them safely, they could be prosecuted.

“Our message to everyone is very simple - you should give as much room when passing a cyclist as you would when overtaking a car.”

Officers also use a ‘close pass mat’ (pictured with PC Cook) which shows the space a vehicle needs to give to a cyclist on the road.

The constable explained: “The Close Pass mat gives a clear visual example of this and has been well received whenever we have used it. Many motorists do not consider that passing cyclists too closely puts themselves in danger, not just the more vulnerable road user on the bike.

“All road users should be able to travel safely and we hope that activity like Operation Close Pass will encourage drivers to consider how their behaviour could change for the better.”

A number of drivers were stopped and warned about how they passed the police cyclist - while numerous others showed an interest in the mat at the sports centre.

Officers were also giving general motoring advice on the day in the car park at Auchenharvie Leisure Centre.