Empathy is key, folks
- shares

It's easy to criticise cyclists from the heated comfort of a car, but life isn't necessarily easy for pedal-powered commuters – especially when drivers don't give them enough room.

According to Ford, there are more than 250 million cyclists on the road across Europe, accounting for one in every 12 road accidents. Although some nations have invested heavily in infrastructure to keep two- and four-wheeled commuters separate, that's not the case everywhere, leading to tension on the roads.

With that in mind, the Blue Oval is backing the 'Share the Road' campaign, which uses virtual reality to put drivers in cyclists' shoes. Using a VR headset, the program shows drivers what it's like when cars overtake too closely, change lanes without indicating and open doors without head checking.

The reverse also applies – cyclists can see from the driver's perspective what happens when they run red lights, ride erratically or ignore one-way signs.

More than 1200 people were involved in the initial trial of the program, and said 70 per cent of people involved were likely to be more empathetic toward their two- or four-wheeled counterparts afterwards.

A total of 91 per cent said they'd change their behaviour on the roads, and 60 per cent made tangible changes within two weeks.

"There is no more effective means of appreciating someone else’s point of view than stepping into their shoes, or in this case, on to their pedals. Empathy is an immensely powerful emotion,” according to behavioural scientist, Dan Berry, who helped create the experiment.