Two new systems to alert HGV and bus drivers of nearby cyclists are currently undergoing trials in the UK.
Cycle Alert comprises of a tag on the bike, a sensor on the vehicle and a cab display unit, allowing the technology to distinguish between a cyclist and other road ‘furniture’. The system requires the cyclist to fit a battery-powered ‘active’ radio tag to their bike, and can then identify where the cycle is in relation to the HGV. Chief Executive Peter Le Masurier explained, “The unit is a stand-alone system, but we’ve been talking to VMs about integrating it into onboard systems.”
“We took the prototype to the Commercial Vehicle Show in 2013 and we didn’t know what the reaction from the HGV industry has going to be. I’m pleased to say they were very alive to the issues and are keen to get on board. There isn’t anything quite like it out there at the moment.”
The system is currently undergoing trials on Transdev busses in York as well as on a fleet of HGVs in Singapore.
While the reaction from cyclists has been positive, Le Masurier is not claiming that every bike can ever possibly be fitted with an active tag. However, he is confident that the system will save lives as soon as it is fitted, without having to wait years for major changes in cab design.
Another project currently undergoing trials with First Bus in Bristol is the CycleEye. This system works with a combination of cameras and lasers to identify the presence of cyclists and alert the driver accordingly. Laser-based systems have been tried in the past, but have not been very reliable and unable to tell the difference between a cyclist and other street furniture, such as lampposts or bollards.
“That’s been the problem with previous attempts to do this type of system” Jim Hutchinson, Chief Executive of CycleEye said in a recent interview with the Bristol Post. “If the driver is bombarded all the time, they either switch the system off, or switch off themselves.” The newcomer differs by using software that ‘looks for’ cyclists as opposed to anything else on the road.
Pressure has been put on VMs to come up with an effective solution to reduce blind spot accidents. Earlier this year the European Commission mooted a drastic change in cab design, while in 2008, Transport for London handed out aftermarket mirrors in a bit to prevent accidents.
Commenting on the issue, industry body the SMMT said, “CV manufacturers invest heavily year after year in new technologies to make vehicles safer than they’ve ever been. Industry continually looks for new ways to reduce road casualties, but any progress needs to be in collaboration with local authorities, road builders and government.”