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Being more friendly to two wheeled traffic

Statistics tell us that more and more people are choosing to cycle during their commute, rather than drive. This is good news for the rest of us who should, in theory, experience less congestion but it also raises the problem of a conflict between two wheeled and four wheeled traffic.

Statistics tell us that more and more people are choosing to cycle during their commute, rather than drive. This is good news for the rest of us who should, in theory, experience less congestion but it also raises the problem of a conflict between two wheeled and four wheeled traffic. Clearly cyclists are much more vulnerable than motorists, who are safely ensconced in their cars with steel safety cages and airbags. Road safety experts are becoming concerned about the rising number of accidents involving cyclists and are particularly worried about the prevalence of accidents involving cyclists and trucks. 

It is well known that truck drivers face a particular problem, with an extensive blind spot to the lower nearside of the truck. This means that cyclists can be alongside the truck completely unseen and can come into serious danger should the truck decide to turn left. Now a software company has developed a specific type of satnav to tackle the problem. ProNav HGV Cyclist Alert costs between £175 and £250 and in addition to standard satnav features, warns HGV drivers that they are approaching areas where there are known to be a lot of cyclists and where accidents have previously been reported. It is understood to be the first system of its kind in the world.

Drivers get an audible and visible alert when they come within 50 metres of such zones. Transport for London (TfL) and the software company have identified more than 100 such zones in London and software engineers are now moving on to map out danger zones in other cities. The launch of the software comes at a time where cycling fatalities are on the increase. Last year 122 cyclists died in road accidents. In the capital, accidents involving lorries have been a particular issue, with five such fatalities last year alone.

With TfL set to double cycling in London over the next ten years, the new satnav is a welcome safely addition. TfL is already trying to introduce safer cycling lanes by separating them from motor traffic and creating special cycling 'Superhighways' with segregated cycle lanes on major commuter routes. Spokesman for the London Cycling Campaign, Charlie Lloyd, believes that cab heights are an issue and commented: "It's great for drivers on motorways but it makes them too remote in cities where there are cyclists and pedestrians. We want trucks in urban areas to have low-rise cabs – as in dust carts – so drivers are closer to the action and can see more. That – and smart cameras with a 360-degree view – would make a bigger difference."

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