Buses on Bristol’s notorious Gloucester Road are expected to start a trial of a cycle detection system developed by a local firm as early as March this year.
The Cycle Eye warning system uses cameras and radar to detect a cyclist within two metres of the vehicle and alert the driver. It looks likely to get a real-world trial on bus services on Gloucester Road.
The route, a major artery into central Bristol from the north, has become notorious for conflicts between cyclists and large vehicles.
Jim Hutchinson, CEO of Bristol company Fusion Processing, that developed the Cycle Eye system, hopes his company’s product will help reduce those problems.
“We should be starting on Gloucester Road because that is what the council has requested,” he told the Bristol Post. “I think this system will reduce collisions, it really will. It will make the situation on Gloucester Road and elsewhere a lot better than many of the other solutions that have been proposed.
“Ideally, we would have segregated roads and better infrastructure but that costs money.
“Plus, you can’t just knock down Bristol and redesign it. We know these roads weren’t designed to carry all these types of traffic so in the meantime a product like this can help avoid potential confrontations.”
Active travel charity Sustrans identified Gloucester Road as one of Bristol’s most dangerous cycling routes in a survey last year. But with 2,500 cyclists using it every day, it’s also one of the busiest.
Last year’s Black November spate of cycling fatalities in London was accompanied by three deaths in the Bristol and Bath area that brought cycle safety to public attention. One of those fatalities occurred on Gloucester Road, though no other vehicles were involved.
Mr Hutchinson said: “It was just an awful couple of weeks in Bristol and in London when there was an unusual spike in fatalities.
“But what you don’t see is behind the figures there are also countless people who are seriously injured in cycling accidents, too.
“You can’t blame people though. Everyone is fallible, both cyclists and drivers have errors of judgement and no one wants accidents. You have to remember that there are two victims always in these cases.”
Cycle Eye has already been tested by Transport for London, and over three days of testing had a 98.5% success rate at identifying cyclists.
Mr Hutchinson told the BBC: “We’ve developed a very intelligent system using radar and image processing. We can tell what objects are and the system can still identify cyclists in poor visibility and bad conditions.”
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “With technologies of this type, the key thing is to trial them to make sure they work reliably. It’s also important to make sure that they do not overload the driver with too many things to check and too many alerts to interpret.”
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.