Transport for London (TfL) is to trial sensor systems on two London bus routes to improve driver awareness of cyclists and pedestrians ahead of a possible rollout across the capital’s bus network in a bid to reduce casualties among the city’s vulnerable road users.
Two buses each on route 25, running from Oxford Street to Ilford via Mile End, and route 73, which goes from Victoria to Stoke Newington via Oxford Circus and Kings Cross will take part in the six-week trial.
TfL says that the routes in question have been specifically chosen because of the high numbers of cyclists and pedestrians found along the routes in question.
Two separate systems will be tested. Those are CycleEye, which harnesses radar and optical technology to ascertain when cyclists are near a vehicle and give the driver an audible warning, and Cycle Safety Shield, which alerts the driver both visibly and audibly when a cyclist, pedestrian or motorcyclist is nearby.
Commenting on the trial, the results of which will be set out in a report later this year, deputy mayor for transport, Isabel Dedring, said: “This is another great example of London leading the way by using the latest innovative technology to further improve safety for every road user.
“We've seen real improvements in reducing the number of accidents on our streets involving buses and if this trial proves successful we'll look to roll it out further across London's fleet.”
Leon Daniels, director of surface transport at TfL, added: “We are all pedestrians, and the number of people cycling in London is increasing, therefore it is vital that we continue to make London's streets as safe as possible.
“This forthcoming trial of innovative detection technology on London Buses will build on the positive trends we've seen in reducing serious injuries and demonstrates our commitment to making London's streets safe for all.”
According to TfL, bus trips make up a quarter of the capital’s road journeys but account for 8 per cent of the city’s road traffic incidents in which someone is injured. It adds that from 2008 to 2013, the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured as a result of a collision with a bus or coach in Greater London fell by 48.1 per cent.
Over the same period, the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in a collision with such vehicles dropped by 40 per cent, although buses and coaches were involved in several fatalities of bike riders last November, at Whitechapel, East Croydon and Southampton Row.
Figures obtained by the Greater London Assembly (GLA) Conservative group in November last year following a Freedom of Information request, 1,889 people had been killed or seriously injured in incidents involving buses from 2008 to 2013, equivalent to slightly more than one a day.
At the time, Richard Tracey, GLA Conservative transport spokesman, said: "These figures are alarming and they remain stubbornly high.
"Transport bosses need to urgently become more transparent around safety figures.
"Despite persistent questioning for several months, they have not yet been able to provide borough-by-borough breakdowns for recent serious incidents involving their own buses," he added.
While lorries account for most cyclist fatalities in London, figures released by Mayor Boris Johnson last month revealed that in some years, it is buses that are responsible for more serious injuries to riders per kilometre ridden.
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.