Drivers in Canterbury who do not give enough room to cyclists when passing them can from today receive fines.
The government wants to reduce the dangers posed to cyclists on the road in order to encourage more people to take to two wheels.
It wants police forces such as Kent to follow the lead of others and impose fines of £100 and three penalty points for careless driving.
The call comes following pressure from cyclists and cycling groups to get tough with drivers who jeopardise cyclists’ safety.
Hatty Thanner, who has ridden around Canterbury almost daily, said: “Nearly every day a motorist will either beep at me without cause, illegally overtake, or nearly kill me by pulling out to a roundabout without checking their right.
“Rule 163 of the Highway Code says drivers should give cyclists at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car. Do not try overtaking with mere inches to spare. That is illegal and highly dangerous.
“Cyclists may need to manoeuvre around objects in the road you cannot see, so give them space. Again, their safety overrides your impatience.”
Darren Allinson, who cycles into Canterbury for work, added: “We don’t really have decent cycle lanes here so we have to use the main part of the road.
“Most drivers are considerate and make room, but some drive like absolute idiots. It’s not unusual for them to pass you by anything from a foot to a few inches.”
University research has found that each cyclist experiences a close pass every 10 to 20 miles. A study by Cycling UK found that 56% of respondents said they had not started cycling because of fear of drivers.
Transport minister Jesse Norman will today tell a cycling conference that more must be done to encourage people to start using bikes.
He will say: “The benefits of cycling and walking are enormous. But we will only achieve our ambitious aims if people feel safe when they walk and cycle.”
The Highway Code does not provide a distance for passing bicycles, but says drivers must give “plenty of room”.