When a motorized vehicle and a cyclist collide, the cyclist loses every time. It doesn’t matter who’s at fault and who isn’t. The cyclist always loses. Believe me, I know. As I write this, I’m going through a difficult recovery period following mouth-reconstruction surgery. I was on my bike, the driver was judged to be 100% at fault, and I have no teeth, 11 implants and a surgically reconfigured upper jaw.
The Ford Motor Company understands that cities become safer, healthier, and easier to get around in when cyclists and motorists learn to share the road. “Let’s share” is not the most common attitude expressed by either cyclists or motorists, however. Instead, drivers vent negative, stereotyped rants about cyclists and cyclists do the same about motorists. Ford is trying to do something about that with a program they call WheelSwap.
WheelSwap is based on a profound yet simple idea. Cyclists and motorists are more likely to be aware and respectful of each other if they learn to see the road from the other’s point of view. To promote this learning, Ford created a pair of virtual reality films that demonstrate what a cyclist or motorist experiences when the other does something dangerous.
As the driver, you experience a cyclist going the wrong way down a one-way street, running a red light, and swerving in front of your car. As the cyclist you see someone open a car door right in front of you, just miss you when they zoom past, and change lanes abruptly in front of you without signaling. It’s a shame the cyclist’s VR doesn’t include a car turning right at an intersection when a cyclist is in the right-hand bike lane as this is one of the most common types of collision between a cyclist and a vehicle.
The videos can be experienced on a VR headset or watched without one on Ford’s Share the Road website. The site also lets you share the word if you think promoting road safety through mutual understanding is a good idea. Unfortunately, sharing the word works through Facebook and I, for one, am not about to give Facebook any more information no matter how worthy I think the cause. Maybe Ford could find a more ethical company to partner with.
It may not seem like learning to view the road from another’s point of view will make much difference. My personal experience is that it can. While riding a number of the mountain climbs in the French Alps made famous by the Tour de France, I was surprised that drivers commonly back off and give cyclists the road on fast mountain descents. The cyclist is safer and gets off the mountain faster while the driver is not slowed down because a skilled cyclist can descend a curvy mountain road faster than a car. It’s the smart and safe thing to do. Talking with people who live in the area, I learned that drivers behave this way because many of them ride bikes and understand the road from the cyclist’s point of view.
My experience in France led me to reevaluate my own cycling based on my experience as a driver and I’m a safer cyclist as a result. You might think that seeing the road from the driver’s point of view didn’t save my teeth and jaw, and you’d be right, it didn’t. But the driver did something mind-numbingly stupid which he almost certainly wouldn’t have done if he looked at the situation from my point of view.
Ford’s WheelSwap is a very good idea and I encourage you to check out the videos if you drive a car or ride a bike.
Published at Thu, 31 May 2018 12:01:35 +0000