The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Cycle Safety Team has taken delivery of a new Mercedes-Benz Actros tractor unit which will be used for its Exchanging Places cycle safety programme.
The MPS said its programme addresses the most common cause of serious injury and death to cyclists – collisions involving a heavy goods vehicles – by giving cyclists the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat of a truck to see for themselves how difficult it can be to see a cyclist riding close to the vehicle.
Experienced traffic police officers are on hand to explain how this type of collision can happen, and talk through several ways of avoiding them.
The new Actros – supplied by Sparshatts of Kent – will cost the MPS nothing except fuel, thanks to the support of Mercedes-Benz and funding from Transport for London (TfL). The truck has been fitted with police livery and blue lights for promotion purposes, and MPS said it will only be driven by trained police drivers and will not be used for patrols or enforcement.
More than 15,000 cyclists have taken part in the Exchanging Places programme since 2007. Due to the “phenomenal” success of the programme, MPS said there was a need for a dedicated vehicle in addition to the vehicles donated from a number of hauliers who support the project. Mercedes-Benz was the winning bidder after manufacturers were invited to bid for the provision of a suitable vehicle on a one-year lease.
“The feedback from these events is overwhelmingly positive, with 97 per cent of cyclists saying they would change their riding as a result of sitting in the driver’s seat, and 99 per cent would recommend it to a friend,” said police sergeant Simon Castle, Roads and Transport Policing Command.