Cycling UK will supply police forces throughout the country with a close pass virtual reality film and VR headsets after raising £15,000 for the project via Kickstarter.
While every cyclist knows the horrible feeling of suffering a dangerously close pass, many drivers don’t. The 360 degree VR ‘Too Close For Comfort’ film puts drivers ‘in the saddle’ to experience a close pass from a cyclist’s perspective.
In one scenario, filmed with specially trained stunt actors, the driver carries out a dangerous close pass manoeuvre. In the second scenario, the driver waits for a suitable passing point and gives the cyclist plenty of room.
Cycling UK needed to raise £15,000 to supply the 45 police forces operating throughout the UK with the film and VR headsets for free. The charity reached its target within eight days.
The film was put into use by West Midlands Police’s Road Harm Reduction Team on Monday, with drivers pulled over for close passes given the opportunity to watch the film in addition to receiving instruction from Woodgate Valley Community Fire Service on how to overtake cyclists safely.
Nine drivers were stopped for close passing over the course of two hours, one of whom had their licence suspended after failing a roadside eye test.
PC Steve Hudson, of West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team said: “This was the first opportunity to put into operational use the new Cycling UK virtual reality film on close passing, and we’re pleased to say the film was well received.
“At West Midlands Police RHRT, we’re always on the lookout for the best ways to make our roads safer and this short VR film will help people learn through experience the dangers of close passing. I hope we’ll see a wider pick-up of the film across the UK, and that other road safety organisations, such as driver training and re-training instructors will be able to make use of the film too.”
One woman who was pulled over – who did not wish to give her name – said afterwards: "That's changed my perspective - I'd never have thought to give cyclists that much room before."
Cycling UK hopes to begin distributing the film and headsets by the end of November.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said: “Making sure the police have the tools they need to educate drivers about the dangers of close passing was always Cycling UK’s first priority, and it’s great to see the film has been well received and is already in use by West Midlands Police.
“Now we’ve surpassed our target, Cycling UK is still keen to raise more funding to put an end to driving that’s too close for comfort. Shortly our enforcers will have the tools they need, but our next step must be to target the educators, so that the next generation of drivers has better awareness and understanding for all vulnerable road users.”
Extra funding raised over the next 16 days will go towards ensuring the film seen as widely as possible and you can contribute here.
- Making the film become a part of driver re-training courses
- Having the film included in online materials signposted to learner drivers.
- Convincing the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland to promote the film as part of a vulnerable road user awareness campaign.
- Taking the film to politicians in Westminster, the Senedd, Holyrood and Stormont so our decision makers can understand the dangers they need to tackle.
- Making sure that those police forces actively conducting close pass operations have access to additional VR headsets and close pass mats to maximise operational effectiveness.