Undercover police have been carrying out an operation to help cyclists 'ride with pride' in Weymouth.

Operation Close Pass took place yesterday morning and saw plain clothes officers posing as cyclists on a circuit along one of Weymouth's busy school routes, along Buxton Road and past Holy Trinity School on Cross Road.

Unmarked patrol vehicles equipped with dash-cams were on the lookout for drivers who came too close while overtaking undercover police on bicycles.

Drivers caught overtaking the bike dangerously were pulled over to a 'pop-up' roadside training centre outside the former St Nicholas Church on Buxton Road. They were then given the opportunity to receive advice, instead of the statutory £100 fine and three penalty points for not driving with due care.

The exercise is being carried out throughout the county, and is aimed at educating drivers to give cyclists a safe distance of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking.

PC Heidi Moxham, road casualty reduction officer for Dorset, said the exercise had received mainly positive feedback.

She said: "Our aim is to educate and inform the public. Many drivers we've spoken to were unaware of the rules and have been reassured to learn they're allowed to cross into the opposite lane to give cyclists enough room while overtaking.

"The safe distance when passing a cyclist is 1.5 metres – if it's not possible to do this, then it's not safe to overtake."

PC Moxham added: "It's also important to remember that cyclists may need to wobble to avoid drains and potholes; therefore our advice to drivers is to always give cyclists as much room as a car."

During the operation, which lasted two-and-a-half hours, 11 motorists were pulled over for overtaking too closely.

As well as being a road safety exercise, police stopped drivers for other alleged crimes, such as driving without insurance.

The Dorset Police road safety team has also been working with cyclists to promote safer riding, including a new initiative recently launched in partnership with Halfords.

Every person who purchases a new bicycle now receives a copy of the police's code of conduct information leaflet, which gives details about the rights and responsibilities of cyclists.

To find out more visit the Dorset road safe website www.dorsetroadsafe.org.uk