Motorists in parts of Gwynedd will be reminded to socially distance on the roads as well as day to day life, in a move designed to make cycling a safer experience.

Said to be a first in the UK, the new road signs installed along popular mountain passes in Snowdonia urge motorists to give cyclists a 1.5 metre (or 5 foot) wide berth when overtaking.

The trial, at a time when social distancing has become the norm, has received Welsh Government support and have been installed at popular spots including Dyffryn Ogwen and routes around Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon.)

Cllr Gareth Griffith, Gwynedd Council’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “More people have made the most of the quieter roads during lockdown, but with traffic slowly increasing, Gwynedd Council is eager to ensure that cyclists continue get the respect and space they deserve on our roads.

“This project has been planned for some time and has looked at similar signage which is already used in many countries in continental Europe.

“We hope the scheme will benefit occasional cyclists out with family and friends as well as more experienced cyclists who enjoy our stunning hills and mountain roads.”

He added that if the signs prove to be popular, its hoped that more will be installed in other parts of the county.

“Close passes are not only intimidating for cyclists, but also very dangerous.

“With more people using cycling as an alternative mode of travel and for recreational use, we must make sure that everyone out on their bike – families and occasional cyclists to members of local road cycling clubs – feel safe on the road.”

The first batch of signs have been installed near Snowdon, including the Llanberis Pass, Pen y Gwryd, Nant Gwynant, Drws y Coed, Dyffryn Ogwen and Dyffryn Mymbyr.

The move has also been supported by GoSafe and the Police-led Wales Road Casualty Reduction Partnership.

Teresa Ciano, the GoSafe Partnership Manager said: “We have been actively promoting the Close Pass message and continue to emphasise the importance of leaving 1.5m between an overtaking vehicle and cyclists to increase the safety of the cyclists on the roads.

“A close pass can have serious consequences and can impact heavily on the safety and confidence of cyclists. We encourage every motorist to observe the safe passing distance and to play their part in making our roads safer for everyone.”

Glyn Evans of Sustrans Cymru, added: “Many drivers don’t realise how intimidating and dangerous it is to pass cyclists too closely.

“We therefore welcome Gwynedd Council’s approach in taking this road safety issue seriously by installing the close pass signs.

“It’s a good indication of the council’s dedication to ensure the safety of all vulnerable road users and we hope the signs will become a permanent fixture.

“We need to encourage more people to travel actively to reduce congestion and improve people’s health. A vital part of that is ensuring people feel safe to cycle on our roads.”