Christmas comes early to English police thanks to Cycling UK

West Midlands Police and team after the first successful use of Cycling UK's VR film
Sam Jones's picture

Christmas comes early to English police thanks to Cycling UK

Santa has come early this year to England’s police, as Oculus Go headsets were delivered to 11 forces to help them educate drivers who pass cyclists too closely.
  • Virtual Reality road safety film plus headsets delivered to 11 forces in time for Christmas
  • Film teaches drivers how to overtake cyclists safely
  • £15k used to fund headsets and film raised by Cycling UK in less than a week

Santa has come early this year to England’s police, as Oculus Go headsets were delivered to 11 forces to help them educate drivers who pass cyclists too closely.

The headsets each come programmed with a short virtual reality (VR) film produced by charity Cycling UK. These educational films allow drivers to experience what it feels like to be close passed by car from a cyclist’s perspective and explains how to overtake cyclists safely.

Highway Code Rule 163 advises drivers to “give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car”, advice which Cycling UK says is too vague.

Following input from forces leading on road safety for cyclists, Surrey and West Midlands Police, Cycling UK produced their short film to be used in operations where police pull over and educate drivers who have failed to drive safely as they pass cyclists.

The charity ran its “Too Close for Comfort” fundraiser campaign via the crowdfunding website, Kickstarter, to contribute towards the making of the film and the distribution of Oculus Go headsets to all 45 police forces operating in the UK. In less than a week Cycling UK smashed its target of £15k, raising over £17k in 28 days.

The film was trialled in operation by West Midlands Police in October, where one woman pulled over, who did not wish to give her name, said after her instruction, "That's changed my perspective - I'd never have thought to give cyclists that much room before."

Cycling UK has now sent out the first headsets to nine forces and is encouraging the other 36 forces operating in the UK to get in touch so they can send out the rest.

One of the early receivers of the VR headset is PC Steve Hudson, of West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team said:

“At West Midlands Police RHRT, we’ve long seen the benefit of using VR film to help educate road users. Using Cycling UK’s new film on how to overtake cyclists safely we’re looking forward to helping more people understand not just how to overtake cyclists safely, but also why it’s so important.”

Keir Gallagher, Cycling UK’s Campaigns Officer said:

“It’s the time for giving, so I’m glad we’ve helped Christmas come a little early for nine forces. The support from the police and public has been really encouraging, and Cycling UK is keen get the rest of the headsets out to all our forces in the new year.

“Cycling UK knows most people don’t deliberately set out to intimidate another road user when driving, but unless you cycle, you’re unlikely to realise how dangerous close passing can be. This film will allow those drivers to experience the threat from safety and will make our roads safer for everyone.”

The 11 forces sent headsets are:

  • Nottinghamshire
  • Suffolk & Norfolk (joint operations)
  • N Yorkshire
  • Cleveland & Durham (joint operations)
  • Merseyside
  • Avon & Somerset
  • Hampshire
  • Sussex
  • West Midlands

The remaining 34 forces will received their headsets in the new year.

The Government in October pledged to introduce a new Highway Code that “will highlight how to avoid the dangers of close passing”.

ENDS

Contact information 

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org

Notes to editors 
  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. For more information on Too Close for Comfort, visit: https://www.cyclinguk.org/campaign/toocloseforcomfort
  3. The Too Close for Comfort film is available to see on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbYU7tWmieQ (360) and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kgPt-lNYGY (2D)
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