With the popularity of cycling increasing, the Government and manufacturers alike are seeking new ways to make cycling a better and safer experience for all road users. New technologies are continuously being developed to help reduce safety concerns and as a result, encourage more people to take up this mode of transport.
However, this is no easy feat. Financial constraints and differing views over the most effective solution have held cycling back from becoming a more prevalent mode of transport in the UK.
Here we take a look at the various technologies that have been developed to improve cycling safety, by looking at bicycle equipment, improvement of the roads, and technology in other vehicles.
‘Smart bikes’ are beginning to enter the market but it remains to be seen if they will become widely adopted.¹ More popular are devices that can be attached to bikes that help cyclists be seen by other road users, as well as making cycling a more pleasant experience.
Some cyclists are using a small device that attaches to the handlebars and projects a bike symbol 6 metres in front of you, alerting motorists that you’re approaching.
Others prefer a power assistance mechanism that is attached to the rear tyre of your bike. It works by boosting cycling motion and as a result, makes cycling in traffic easier. It can also connect to your smartphone to monitor your physical activity.
Advanced stop lines at traffic lights are designed to make cyclists more visible to motorists and allow them extra room to move off once the lights turn green.
However, do these go far enough? Segregated cycling routes are widely viewed as an effective solution for cyclist safety, as the separation dispels the difficulties of cars and cyclists safely sharing the road. A famous example of this is the ‘Cycle Snake’ in Copenhagen, which is an elevated orange bike lane that connects the highway and harbour bridge.²
Take a look at it here:
There has been a proposal for a similar elevated ‘SkyCycle‘ bike route in London, but plans have been held back due to financial constraints.
One motor manufacturer has developed a helmet that can warn a cyclist if they are in a vehicle’s blind spot, so they can take action to avoid a collision.³ The helmet uses a smartphone app to track the location and speed of a cyclist. This information is shared with any Volvo vehicles nearby that are equipped with the firm’s ‘City Safety’ system, and alerts drivers to the presence of a cyclist even if the rider is in a blind spot or when visibility is poor. It can also take control of a car to apply brakes if it gets too close to a cyclist. Drivers will be alerted via the car’s head-up display and the rider will be warned through a light mounted on the helmet.⁴
Another car manufacturer has developed “Bike Sense” technology to warn drivers of nearby cyclists and pedestrians.⁵ Door handles will ‘buzz’ the driver’s hand to prevent the door being opened in front on an oncoming cyclist, and the accelerator pedal will vibrate if moving forward would cause an accident.
Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are overrepresented in fatal collisions involving cyclists, and this is particularly an issue in London.⁶ As a result, TfL are introducing the Safer Lorry Scheme later this year, which bans lorries from the roads if they weigh more than 3.5 tonnes and are not fitted with side guards and mirrors.⁷
What else can be done to improve cycling safety?
Campaigns such as Think Bikes! by the AA encourage other motorists to take longer to look for bikes as well as ensuring that all road users treat each other with consideration and respect.
Mandatory training for cycling safety has been suggested by some, such as including it as part of the driving test or teaching it to children in schools.
But what do you think?
Why not join our Twitter hour discussion on Wednesday 22nd April at 2pm to share your views. Follow @insurethebox to keep up-to-date and use the hashtag #SaferDriving, or leave us a message in the comment box below.
  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30706146