Cyclists are the most vulnerable road users

Cycle Alert system aims to save bikers' lives

The city of York will become the first in the world to equip its inner city buses with a system detecting cyclists around the vehicles. 

The Cycle Alert system consists of three components – first the bikers have to fit their bicycles with special tags, or alternatively, attach these tags to their helmets or garments. The buses, vans or trucks could then be equipped with sensors monitoring their surroundings. Finally, an alert device is mounted into the dashboard of the vehicle, providing real-time information to the driver.

The goal of the system is to inform the driver as early as possible about a cyclist approaching the vehicle, which is believed to help reduce the incidence of crashes involving bikers.

When a presence of a cyclist is detected, the in-cab receiver, designed to minimise the distraction for the driver, issues a short audible warning and flashes a light, indicating the position of the biker in relation to the vehicle.

The whole system is based on the radio frequency identification technology (RDIF). The tags mounted on bicycles are sending out signals, indicating their presence, whenever the system is moving.  When the bicycle is stationary, the transmission stops. The signals are intercepted by the sensors on the HGVs, triggering the alert.

All the sensors and transmitters are designed with energy efficiency in mind. The units are low cost, requiring minimum maintenance and no wiring.

The bicycle-mounted units operate for years on low-cost batteries which are easily checked and replaced during scheduled maintenance periods.

The system is hoped to address the problem of the so called blind spots, where drivers don’t see objects in certain positions in their rear and side mirrors. The cyclists are, in general, considered to be the most vulnerable road users and are frequently hit especially in complicated traffic situations, including complex junctions. 

The project is a joint venture of a private company Cycle Alert, The University of York, York City Council and Transdev Unibus, who will install the first devices in its vehicles in October.

"There are currently no systems on the market that can tell an HGV driver whether a cyclist is close to their vehicle,” said Peter Le Masurier, the founder of Cyclo Alert.

“This is where Cycle Alert comes in. Everybody needs to take responsibility for their own safety on the road. Cycle Alert empowers cyclists to make themselves more obvious to HGV drivers,” he said, explaining he was inspired to pursue the idea after listening to an interview with a truck driver who had been involved in an accident that killed a cyclist.

Although designed initially with HGVs in mind, the Cycle Alert system could be fitted into all vehicle types.

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