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

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.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.