A smartphone app that claims to alert motorists to the presence of cyclists on the road – assuming both the driver and rider are using it – has come under criticism on social media, as has happened with similar systems in the past.
A series of tweets over the weekend – at least one since deleted – announced that the Cycle Safety Technologies app can now be downloaded.
According to the company’s website, which has a short video showing how the app works, it is available for both iOS and Android devices. The first three months of use are free, then it costs 79 pence a month.
Joseph Edet, writing on his @CycleSafeTech account, said: “We have developed our road safety technology app on the basis that all road users should be able to communicate to each other.”
The replies to the tweet below, including from Pedal on Parliament co-founder Dave Brennan, highlight some of the objections commonly raised to such systems, including low uptake, the fact that the cyclist is required to download an app in the first place, and the way in which such technology, while presumably well-intentioned, can be perceived as shifting responsibility to keep vulnerable road users safe away from the motorist.
Yes we have hand signals.
What is missing is the abilities to be seen by a driver approaching a blind bend
Or a cyclist been able to communicate to a large lorry "hey im on your inside"
that is about to turn left at red lights or road junction.
BE SEEN BE SAFE https://t.co/l8MDIc2NnM
— Joseph Edet (@cyclesafetech) February 10, 2019
It was also pointed out that a tweet with a picture of the app in operation showed the driver’s smartphone attached to the windscreen in an illegal manner.
Just to check with @Trafficwmp but this arrangement is illegal, as you have mounted a device in the area which must not have any item blocking driver's forward vision
— Dave H - Ode an die Freiheit (Nicht dieser Tone) (@BCCletts) February 11, 2019
According to its ‘Our Story’ page on its website, Cycle Safety Technologies was born in 17 January 2017, the day after founder Joseph Edet had been sacked as an Uber driver.
Starting a new job as a chauffeur, the website says his first client was Laurence Prince – an entrepreneur who made his fortune in licensed celebrity calendars – who alongside Edel is listed as a director of the business at Companies House, where it was incorporated on 19 February 2018.
The app had been in development for several years prior to that, and was presented at the London Cycle Show
Writing on the Cycle Safety Technologies website, Edet says: “The idea for this app came when I witnessed a fatal accident between a cyclist and a construction vehicle on Hackney Road, East London. The woman cyclist was just doing what other cyclists do all the time, trying to get through slow traffic. The woman was unaware that the lorry was about to move and the vehicle driver was not aware of the cyclist!
“A split second later, a life gone!
“I was haunted by the question, why did this accident happen? It took weeks to conclude that for every road user there was no communication and no awareness – CST will change that!”
The website also has a shop, selling among other things hi-visibility vests for both adult and child cyclists and a vinyl sticker – costing between £29.00 and £46.20 plus VAT depending on the size of sticker selected – for motorists to let other road users know they are using the app.
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.