New system uses sensors on bikes to warn lorry drivers when cyclists are present

System to be launched at Commercial Vehicle Show at NEC next month

by Simon_MacMichael   March 13, 2013  

London Concrete lorry and bikes (copyright Simon MacMichael)

A new system, Cycle Alert, designed to improve the safety of cyclists around lorries by using sensors on bicycles or helmets to warn drivers of the presence of bike riders is to be launched next month at the Commercial Vehicle Show, which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham from 9-11 April.

Cycle Alert comprises a sensor that is fixed to a bike or its rider’s helmet, a sensor affixed to the lorry and a driver-alert device located in the cab, with the three all communicating between one another, reports the website HGV UK.

The system is aimed at giving drivers the maximum time possible to react to cyclists on the road, according to its inventor Peter Le Masurier, co-founder of Cycle Alert.

“Many systems have been designed for HGV’s, so that drivers can be more aware of cyclists close to their vehicle,” he explained. “But everybody needs to take responsibility for their own safety on the road.

“Cycle Alert empowers cyclists to make themselves more obvious to HGV drivers – no mean feat when you consider the relative size difference – and allows HGV drivers to protect themselves from the devastating impact of an accident.

“In fact I was inspired to develop this technology when I heard an interview with a truck driver who had been involved in an accident with a cyclist – I recognised then that not one but two families are left devastated by such incidents”, he added.

While the system itself sounds interesting in principle, it’s difficult to see how it could significantly improve safety without widespread uptake from lorry operators and, more importantly, bike riders themselves.

Making the sensors compulsory clearly isn’t an option, and it’s questionable how many cyclists would be prepared to fork out themselves, especially if there’s no guarantee the vehicles they are sharing the road with were equipped with suitable technology.

That leaves some form of sponsorship from within the haulage industry that would see the devices supplied free to cyclists as the only realistic option and that indeed seems to be the way Cycle Alert is leaning.

HGV UK says that the company is looking for vehicle operators that can help it test the technology, and that it would also look to get cyclists on board, including by given haulage companies supplies of sensors with each cab unit ordered that they could then distribute to local cyclists.

A vehicle belonging to construction services firm Keltbray – a company that has come under fire in the past as a result of incidents involving cyclists suffering death or serious injury after being struck by its lorries – will be at the NEC equipped with the Cycle Alert technology.

There’s another issue that occurs to us – say the system were to be widely adopted, and a cyclist not using a sensor were killed or injured by a lorry equipped with the technology, would the vehicle operator’s insurers argue there was a degree of contributory negligence on the rider’s part in the event of a civil lawsuit being brought, or even seek to deny responsibility altogether?
 

14 user comments

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And what happens if your bike isn't fitted with a sensor and you have an accident?

Is it your fault cos you didn't have one?

Completely arse faced. Detectors on trucks need to be completely self contained without relying on something fitted to a bike.

I kinda feel that like hi-viz and helmets this is just another lame attempt to push the onus on the people riding bikes.

I fully appreciate that something needs to be done about trucks, blindspots and cyclists but this is not it.

posted by gazza_d [195 posts]
13th March 2013 - 17:44

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Agree with Gazza.

Who's going to fit a device to their bike which effectively is saying "hey there, you've got a suicidal idiot next to you, don't squash him if you notice that little led on your dashboard is flashing".

Makes no sense at all.

posted by kie7077 [448 posts]
13th March 2013 - 18:52

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..Oh, and look at the pic, is the sensor going to go off every-time the lorry passes a bike chained to a lamppost / railing?

posted by kie7077 [448 posts]
13th March 2013 - 18:53

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Ludicrous

Next!

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
13th March 2013 - 20:25

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If the HGV is moving in a forward direction towards me on my bike, the driver should be able to see me.

If I am behind the lorry and it is reversing, there is an audible buzzer that warns me and there is also reversing lamps.

If I have maneuvered myself into a blind spot, that's my responsibility.

This device is not needed, it is just trying to make up for idiocy and complacency.

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posted by Municipal Waste [190 posts]
13th March 2013 - 21:44

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And to add that if Volvo can come up with fancy stuff to detect cyclists for Tarquin's mother on the school run in their SUV, why can't this lot?

posted by gazza_d [195 posts]
13th March 2013 - 21:50

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This will simply become an excuse for the next cyclist killed by a lorry driver. Well (s)he didn't have a sensor on the bike, it was not my fault. Angry

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posted by Angelfishsolo [105 posts]
14th March 2013 - 11:18

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For this system to work it would need 100% take up from both lorries and cycles, my guess is would never get beyond 20% of lorries and 10% of cycles.

Volvo's concept of active sensing and action by the vehicle is much more interesting. While it is limited to just a few new Volvos at the moment I thing it is something that will eventually make it's way throughout the transport industry.

posted by Bill McLaren [7 posts]
14th March 2013 - 11:38

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I think that points should be awarded for effort in trying to come up with a solution. But I agree with others. It seems to be something which is putting an onus on the cyclist. But the death machine is in the hands of the truck driver.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1112 posts]
14th March 2013 - 11:57

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Obviously this is a both ridiculous and dangerous idea for all the reasons mentioned above.

Other than driving vehicles with poor visibility, if I needed sensors to know if a cyclist was near me I would surrender my licence. Surely increasing information gathered through this type of technology is going to reduce the awareness/alertness required to drive safely - necessitating more tech?

There are plenty of safety features of cars which are sensible - especially on larger vehicles. But most of the time it's not the car, it's the driver.

posted by hoski [64 posts]
14th March 2013 - 11:57

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I don't see this as such a bad idea. Having a proximity detection system that has to differentiate between cyclists, cars, people by the side of the road, motorbikes etc, is probably quite difficult and expensive. I expect something low range that detects a beacon would be much simpler and cheaper. RFID is low power, can detect tags a few meters away and is cheap. If it's cheap it's far likelier to be implemented.

posted by musicalmarc [51 posts]
14th March 2013 - 13:49

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They have a similar thing in the Dakar rally, but it's more to tell the bikers to get out of the way there's a truck coming. Thinking

posted by Parkaboy [12 posts]
14th March 2013 - 14:01

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Does every child and their bike have to be fitted with this? It's a lot easier to fit a vehicle at production with a detection device but fit one to every bike/rider? I don't think that is practical.

And you also hit the nail on the head with the last question "would the vehicle operator’s insurers argue there was a degree of contributory negligence on the rider’s part in the event of a civil lawsuit being brought". The answer to that is of course yes the insurer would.

Nice idea on paper, not practicable in the real world.

posted by markyjl [8 posts]
14th March 2013 - 15:46

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what about pedestrians? should everyone outside the cab carry one of these things?

This is getting silly. Check your blind spots, look what is in front of you before you roll out. Whether in a car or truck or on a bike, it is your responsibility to make sure you get to where you're going without killing other people, whatever they are carrying/wearing/operating.

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posted by sparrow_h [35 posts]
15th March 2013 - 14:05

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