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Cyclists urged to get behind wheel of virtual lorry to cut road accidents

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 August 2018

Police and TfL have launched a 360 degree film of the Met’s Exchanging Places programme, designed to reduce road danger.

Police and TfL have launched a 360 degree film of the Met's Exchanging Places programme, designed to reduce road danger.

Archant

Cyclists are being asked to put themselves in the driving seat of a lorry to prevent road accidents.

The commonest accidents causing serious injury to cyclists in London involve lorries.The commonest accidents causing serious injury to cyclists in London involve lorries.

The commonest cause of death and serious injury to cyclists involves collisions with heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), according to the Met Police and TfL.

There were 46 cyclist casualties in Redbridge in 2016, a decrease of 21per cent on the year before, the latest figures from Transport for London (TfL) reveal.

There were five cyclists seriously injured in 2016, according to analysis from pressure group Travel Independent.

So far this year eight cyclists have died on London’s roads.

Insp Tony Mannakee, the Met’s Road Danger Reduction manager with Supt Robert Revill.Insp Tony Mannakee, the Met’s Road Danger Reduction manager with Supt Robert Revill.

More than 70pc of cyclist deaths involved lorries in the past three years despite HGVs making up only 4pc of miles driven in the capital.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, TfL and the police have vowed to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on the capital’s roads.

The Met’s roads and transport policing command along with TfL hope a virtual reality (VR) headset giving cyclists a 360 degree view from a lorry’s cab will help riders better understand what drivers can and can’t see.

It was launched on Tuesday, August 21.

Supt Robert Revill said: “It’s absolutely amazing. I’m really pleased with it. We’re aiming to reduce road deaths to zero by 2041.

“Anything we can do to protect cyclists and make roads safer must be a help.”

The brains behind the measure want to take it into schools, youth clubs and care homes to spread awareness of the risks lorries pose to cyclists and vulnerable pedestrians.

“It’s more practical because we can’t take a lorry along,” Supt Revill explained.

Police and TfL launched the technology as part of Vision Zero designed to eliminate accidents on the capital's transport network by 2041.Police and TfL launched the technology as part of Vision Zero designed to eliminate accidents on the capital's transport network by 2041.

Simon Munk from the London Cycling Campaign said: “In east London, we’re seeing some major changes moving forward for a few key junctions such as Charlie Brown’s Roundabout and the Stratford gyratory.

“But we know there are far too many dangerous junctions left that feature no plans and have no funding.

“We need far more rapid action on dangerous junctions, more 20mph zones, more cycle tracks on main roads, more low traffic neighbourhoods, more willingness to back fine words with real action.”

Mr Munk welcomed the VR headset but called for more protected cycle lanes and separate traffic signals so more people would feel more comfortable cycling.

Police and TfL have launched a 360 degree film of the Met’s Exchanging Places programme, designed to reduce road danger.Police and TfL have launched a 360 degree film of the Met’s Exchanging Places programme, designed to reduce road danger.

The VR programme itself – called Exchanging Places – was filmed in and around an HGV.

It shows a cyclist passing and the driver’s restricted view from the cab. People wearing the headset get to see all this from the cyclist’s and driver’s points of view.

Hitchin Nomads cycling club member Brian Ruggles – who had a go – said: “It was really good. You get a better idea of what the lorry driver can see of you.

“But the lessons need to be for both sides – cyclists and drivers.”

The Met and TfL want to take the programme to schools, youth clubs, libraries and care homes across east London.The Met and TfL want to take the programme to schools, youth clubs, libraries and care homes across east London.

Inspector Tony Mannakee, the Met’s road danger reduction manager, said the headsets would allow the police to reach a wider audience.

“We’re working very hard to reduce fatal and serious collisions. We want to get across the message that everybody’s got a shared responsibility on the roads.

“Everybody needs to respect each other and understand what it’s like to be a cyclist and what it’s like to be in the cab of an HGV.”

TfL plans to bring in a star rating for HGVs based on how well a driver can see from a cab. Only vehicles rated three stars or more or those with enhanced safety will be allowed on the capital’s roads from 2024.

HGVs are the commonest cause of road traffic accidents involving cyclists in London.HGVs are the commonest cause of road traffic accidents involving cyclists in London.

Joshua Harris of road safety charity Brake welcomed the approach saying: “All road deaths are preventable and tragic.

“HGVs are involved in half of all cycling deaths in London so it is vitally important that steps are taken.”

And TfL is renewing calls for volunteers to help police monitor vehicle speeds on the borough’s roads.

Since they began in August 2015 27 joint speed detecting sessions have caught 477 speeding vehicles in Redbridge.

Sign up at communityroadwatch@metpolice.uk

Contact exchangingplaces@metpolice.uk for details of the VR programme.

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