Close pass crack down ramps up ahead of Christmas

Cycling UK has delivered a festive gift to UK police forces

Virtual reality (VR) headsets and films that explain how to pass cyclists safety have been delivered to police forces across the country in time for Christmas.

The Oculus Go headsets and film, produced by Cycling UK, were paid for by a crowdfunder organised by the national charity for cycling.

In total, eleven police forces have received the resources, to be used across nine operations.

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The film will be played, in 3D thanks to the VR headsets, to drivers who are pulled over for passing too close.

Produced with input from Surrey and West Midlands Police, the footage aims to educate them on what close passes feel like to cyclists, before giving them advice on how much room they must give.

When the set-up was trialled by West Midlands Police in October, one woman who was pulled over said: “That’s changed my perspective – I’d never have thought to give cyclists that much room before.”

In October, the Government also pledged to make changes to the Highway Code guidance on passing cyclists.

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Currently, Rule 163 states drivers should  “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.

The Kickstarter campaign that raised money for the resources raised £17,000 in 28 days, and the cash will go to providing all 45 forces with the headsets and film.

Cycling UK is encouraging the remaining forces to get in touch, so they can send out the rest of the headsets.

On receiving the headset and footage for use by the West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team, PC Steve Hudson 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