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.”
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.