York cyclists and university students will be able take part in a pilot project to combat lorry and bus danger through sensors fixed to their bikes.
From 10 October, students and commuters in the cycling-friendly northern city will be able to buy the small Cycle Alert bike- or helmet-mounted transmitter, which sends signals to proximity sensors situated on vehicles. If a cyclist comes within two metres of one of the vehicle sensors, a device in the cab alerts the driver to the potential hazard and its location.
Cycle Alert has a number of advantages over other solutions, including ease of installation, and because the set-up is based on sensors, it eliminates the 'white noise' issues of systems that merely indicate when any object – rather than specifically a cyclist – is nearby.
Cycle Alert is primarily intended for use with heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), which are involved in a disproportionate number of fatal accidents with cyclists. In London during 2011, HGVs were involved in 53 percent of cycling fatalities despite making up four percent of traffic, claim British Cycling – and yesterday, they said they were moving action on lorry danger to the top of their campaign priorities.
However, in the York pilot project the technology will be restricted to the fleet of nine buses, operated by Transdev, which ferry students to the University of York campus.
Peter Le Masurier, who developed the Cycle Alert system, told BikeRadar: "We've been trialling the project with some large organisations – and there are some I am partnering with – but this is the first organisation we have rolled out the project with, so effectively it's our launch.
"It's a precursor – if it's deemed successful by all parties, then we'll be rolling it out across all Transdev buses in that region," he added.
But commercial lorries remain the technology's future target, Le Masurier reiterated. "All the pieces of the jigsaw are in place – this is our entrance," he said. "We're now officially in low-level manufacturing, but I have a number of partners… ranging from a big retailer to a number of commercial distribution partners, which in turn leads to a number of fleet operators and some large construction projects which have bought into the concept."
The bike sensors will cost around £25 via Get Cycling, though York students can pick them up for £5. Bike sensors have a battery life of between 12 and 18 months. The vehicle kit – the warning device and sensors – will cost from £395, according to Le Masurier.