TfL to trial optical & radar detection technology on buses to alert drivers to cyclists and pedestrians

Initiative forms part of draft Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, consultation opens today

by Simon_MacMichael   April 1, 2014  

London:cyclist in traffic (copyright Simon MacMichael).jpg

Transport for London (TfL) says that it is to trial optical and radar-based detection software on the capitall's 8,700 buses in a bid to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

The trial forms part of its draft Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, which is the subject of a consultation launched today as part of TfL’s target of reducing serious casualties on the city’s roads by 40 per cent by 2020.

In 2012, the latest year for which data are available, 69 pedestrians – more than all other road users combined – and 14 cyclists lost their lives on London’s roads. The respective totals for serious injuries stood at 1,054 and 657.

Two of the six cyclists killed in London last November lost their lives following a collision with a bus.

An initial trial of the radar and detection technology, which tells bus drivers when there is a pedestrian or cyclist close to the vehicle, took place in August last year.

TfL says it showed that the technology “had significant potential but that more research was needed,” and is inviting developers to provide information regarding systems that could be used in the trial this summer.

Among 30 key actions covered in the draft Pedestrian Safety Action Plan are doubling the number of pedestrian crossings in London, and encouraging boroughs to introduce countdowns at such sites to help people cross safely.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “We've made some great strides in improving road safety in recent years, and although things are moving in the right direction there is still much to be done which is why we are working hard to deliver innovative measures – such as these groundbreaking bus technology trials – to ensure that we make our roads as safe as possible for everyone.'

Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL, added: “We are all pedestrians, and therefore it is vital that we continue to make London's streets as safe as possible.

“These forthcoming trials of innovative pedestrian detection on London Buses, as well as the publication of our draft Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, will build on the huge reductions in serious injuries we have seen in the last decade and demonstrate our commitment to making London's streets safe for all.”

The consultation has been launched on the same day as the London Assembly’s Transport Committee published a report called Feet First, Improving Pedestrian Safety in London, produced in response to what it terms “a worrying rise in the danger to pedestrians on the capital’s streets.

German Dector-Vega, London director at the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, commented: “Fewer drivers are dying on our roads but statistics show that for our most vulnerable road users the situation is becoming more and more treacherous.

“Extra time to cross the road may seem minuscule but it could save a life and will certainly make it easier for people with mobility issues, parents, children and the elderly to get around.

“20mph speed limits save lives and make the streets in London better places to walk, cycle, socialise and also improves public health by allowing people to be more active.

“A 20mph limit is welcome wherever it is put in place across the country, but a postcode lottery where pedestrians and cyclists are safer in some areas than others is not acceptable – 20mph must become a default speed limit.”

13 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Good stuff - as much as training people is nice, a single driver only has two eyes, close together, using a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Bring on the robots!

As a side note, the ratio of KSIs to deaths for pedestrians and cyclists is interesting. 6% of seriously injured peds die vs 2% of seriously injured cyclists.

posted by nuclear coffee [163 posts]
1st April 2014 - 16:43

24 Likes

More nonsense it seems.

posted by northstar [1106 posts]
1st April 2014 - 16:51

35 Likes

I like the idea of more 20 mph limits the big question will the police be interested in in forcing them.

The default setting for motorists is to look at 20mph and double it.

I'm in favour of anything which makes motorists lives more difficult or expensive, in the hope that some of them might stop driving.

Housecathst's picture

posted by Housecathst [57 posts]
1st April 2014 - 18:30

28 Likes

Housecathst wrote:
I like the idea of more 20 mph limits the big question will the police be interested in in forcing them.

The default setting for motorists is to look at 20mph and double it.

I'm in favour of anything which makes motorists lives more difficult or expensive, in the hope that some of them might stop driving.

There's a 20mph road on my route to and from work. It has speed bumps and 20mph is as fast as you want to go anyway, so that's what I do when I'm in the car or on the bike. However it's very common for me to get tailgated by someone who then tries to overtake when the road widens a little. Some people don't want to drive at 20mph, even when they're wearing out their suspension by hammering into the speed bumps.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2205 posts]
1st April 2014 - 19:51

16 Likes

Housecathst wrote:
I like the idea of more 20 mph limits the big question will the police be interested in in forcing them.

The default setting for motorists is to look at 20mph and double it.

I'm in favour of anything which makes motorists lives more difficult or expensive, in the hope that some of them might stop driving.

It's being stated they are not interested in enforcing them - that aside, do you really think they care?

The only way there will be any semblence of "peace" is to ban motor vehicle travel.

posted by northstar [1106 posts]
1st April 2014 - 19:58

16 Likes

We have 20mph limit outside the school in our village but we never see a police officer to enforce it so 40mph+ is the norm for some selfish idiots.

I love the smell of cleats (mexican accent, you do the jokes)

posted by paulfrank [80 posts]
1st April 2014 - 20:14

23 Likes

Bring it on, if it works on buses make it a legal requirement for all vehicles over 3T (retrofit) and all new vehicles.

posted by Initialised [120 posts]
1st April 2014 - 23:35

11 Likes

OldRidgeback wrote:
However it's very common for me to get tailgated by someone who then tries to overtake when the road widens a little. Some people don't want to drive at 20mph, even when they're wearing out their suspension by hammering into the speed bumps.

The same thing happens if you drive at 20mph, you get tailgated.

The 20mph speed limit is widely ignored, as there has never been any enforcement. The Police may not be able to routinely enforce it, but that doesn't excuse them for having NEVER enforced it.

ASL boxes has exactly the same problem, they were widely ignored by the majority of drivers until the Police began the occasional enforcement campaign a few years ago. They need to do the same for the 20mph zones, so that it is no longer a zero risk crime.

posted by bikebot [549 posts]
2nd April 2014 - 5:52

16 Likes

1 person in London becomes a KSI statistic every day because of a bus. Pedestrian crossing times have already been cut to try to 'smooth' the traffic, and it kills people. TfL knows this, and have for some time.

While I think the additional technology could help, there are better ways - get drivers out of vehicles and onto bikes during training as standard. Stop prioritising time over safety. Introduce and enforce (with average speed cameras) the 20mph speed limit city-wide.

posted by teaboy [163 posts]
2nd April 2014 - 8:41

11 Likes

I'm not sure how effective the senors will be in central London, often it's the bus drivers attitude and style of driving that is the problem.

My experience if that in areas of heavy pedestrian traffic bus driver speed along assuming that people will get out of the way just in time. If one person trips or is slightly slower than assumed the bus driver leaves himself no margin to avoid hitting them. The road to the Bus station at Liverpool Street (currently temporarily closed) is a good example.

posted by thereverent [300 posts]
2nd April 2014 - 14:24

8 Likes

There is no excuse for TfL not to implement these technologies on grounds of cost. I see that even a cheap little car like the Nissan Note now has four cameras for all-round vision from the dashboard.

Certainly systems for public carriage vehicles need greater robustness and will also require resilient back-end systems for data storage (because of the impact of recording on criminal or civil-negligence proceedings).

But these systems must certainly exist already. The call for further trials smacks of kicking the can down the road.

harman_mogul's picture

posted by harman_mogul [131 posts]
2nd April 2014 - 15:13

5 Likes

There's no excuse for tfl allowing multiple manslaughter's / perhaps even murder to take place on the public highway but they do everyday and will continue to do so because they are obsessed with achieving the impossible.

You still all in denial about it and happy to accept it? looks that way.

posted by northstar [1106 posts]
2nd April 2014 - 16:03

7 Likes

Maybe they'll even start to pay attention to bus drivers who jump red lights. I see this every single day.
With the front of the bus festooned with cameras, whoever reviews the tapes must simply ignore this.

posted by alexb [49 posts]
3rd April 2014 - 9:29

3 Likes