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‘Critical milestone’ reached in developing bicycle-to-vehicle communication standard to increase rider safety

Trek, Specialized, Bosch and Ford are among companies launching a consortium to develop the technology that alerts drivers to presence of cyclists

 

The development of a bicycle-to-vehicle (B2V) communication standard, aimed at making roads safer for vulnerable road users including cyclists, pedestrians and scooter riders by alerting drivers and their vehicles to their presence, has reached what has been described as a “critical milestone,” with a number of firms including leading companies in the automotive and cycling industries set to launch a consortium to develop the technology.

Bike manufacturers Trek and Specialized as well as components makers Shimano and SRAM are among nine businesses partnering to develop the standard, alongside Ford, Bosch, Hammerhead, B2V technology developer Tome Software and SAE Industry Technologies, with updates on the initiative announced at last week’s CES consumer electronics show.

The ramping up of efforts to introduce B2V technology comes as usage of bikes rises around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Ford and Tome having led a working group during the past year to look at potential applications, with several prototypes announced at CES.

Those include Trek incorporating B2V technology into its Flare R rear light, which can be used both at night and during the day, and Specialized integrating it within its ANGi smart helmet technology, which can also be paired with the Specialized Ride App.

Eric Bjorling, brand director at Trek Bicycle, said: “The pandemic has put more people on two wheels than we have ever seen before around the globe.

“As more citizens discover the mental and physical benefits of riding and look to bicycles as an alternate means of transportation, bike and auto manufacturers alike can collaborate to uncover innovative ways to make our roads safer.”

Specialized executive vice president Bob Margevicius said: “We believe that bikes have the power to pedal the planet forward – improving mental and physical health and serving as a powerful tool in combating the climate crisis.

“It's simple, the world needs more people on bikes. To make that happen, we need to make sure that riding a bike is safer than it is today for all riders.

“We’re excited to co-operate with other cycling and automotive partners to develop technology for added rider safety.”

Over the years, we’ve reported on a number of systems under development that seek to make motorists, including lorry drivers, aware of the presence of cyclists, such as Bike Alert, developed in 2012 at a hack day organised by the Guardian and Honda.

One stumbling block that such systems have faced is that in the absence of an industry standard, they cannot achieve the scale that might truly make a difference to road safety, and discussions about creating a common B2V protocol began at CES in 2018.

Jake Sigal, founder and CEO of Tome Software, said: “We have completed a critical milestone in cross-industry collaboration while we continue the research and development process through 2021 testing and on-road data collection pilots.

“We now have solidified a clear path to standards, continuing our mission for safer roads for all road users.”

Chuck Gray, vice president of vehicle components and systems engineering at Ford Motor Company, called on more leading businesses within the automotive and cycling industries to join in the initiative.

“Cyclists and e-scooter riders are a growing part of mobility solutions sharing roads, which is why Ford is investing heavily in ways to improve awareness between road users and allow more confident mobility – whether you’re on two or four wheels,” he said.

“As we advance the technology, we also need other industry leaders to join in developing standardised wireless communications technologies that can help accelerate these types of innovations for more people, sooner.”

Some argue that with technology not being failsafe, such initiatives could increase the danger for cyclists since the driver may come to rely on it more than their own senses, but with such a concerted cross-industry effort now underway, it does seem a case of if, not when, it will become commonplace.

Within the US, the national cycling advocacy group People On Bikes said that it expects that Congress to “renew their efforts in this area in 2021,” and urged that, together with President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, lawmakers “should take every approach to reduce bicycle and pedestrian deaths and fatalities on US roadways, which includes investing in B2V technology that can help keep people riding on bikes alongside cars safer.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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41 comments

Avatar
Runningwolf | 2 years ago
5 likes

Yet more gizmos to place onto the trusty steed.  What running daylights that light you up like Blackpool illuminations, along with a garmin (in my case to run live track so my family can find me if I have an issue with my health, I survived a heart attack) running a safety camera and also wearing  high viz clothes is not enough for brain dead numptys driving vehicles who think cyclists should not even be on a road.  I personaly think that as cyclists we should all be pressing for change in legislation, such as presumed liability.  So for example is a vehicle takes out a cyclist then the vehicle driver is presumed liable, unless the driver of the said vehicle can prove that the cyclist was actually at fault.   I think this legislation would be more helpful to cyclists instead of more tech that makes us more visible.

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wtjs replied to Runningwolf | 2 years ago
4 likes

 I personaly think that as cyclists we should all be pressing for change in legislation, such as presumed liability.

Agreed

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growingvegtables | 2 years ago
2 likes

Dangerous waste of effort ... when certain f*ckers can't even use a windscreen, their own eyes, and their brain.

Doubly dangerous, because it will deflect responsibility for atrocious driving from the driver ... on to the guy on the bike without an electronic doobry.

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Captain Badger | 2 years ago
5 likes

“We’re excited to co-operate with other cycling and automotive partners to develop technology for added rider safety blame.”

TFTFY. You're f*cking welcome.

How long before they require pedestrians to carry P2V devices to fend off the unwanted attentions of murderous vehicles?

 

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Hirsute | 2 years ago
4 likes

Trying to work out if my initial response of 'a stupid idea' is right or whether I am being 'anti tech'.

However, still going with option 1 !

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HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
0 likes

When did it become compulsory to include the phrasal verb 'ramp up' in every news article?

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hawkinspeter replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
3 likes

HarrogateSpa wrote:

When did it become compulsory to include the phrasal verb 'ramp up' in every news article?

I think that was last Tuesday. A memo did go round.

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Captain Badger replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
9 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

HarrogateSpa wrote:

When did it become compulsory to include the phrasal verb 'ramp up' in every news article?

I think that was last Tuesday. A memo did go round.

Tuesday was the deadline, but there's been a ramp-up since last July

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Philh68 replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
0 likes

It came in at the same time as using the word "unprecedented", no wonder you didn't see it coming. Oh, and how any time something is being opposed it's now "slammed", not criticised… which reminds me I need to tell the wife to stop criticising the door 😉

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Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
9 likes

Just had an NIP sent to an Addison Lee driver who drove straight over a stop line at a junction into the path of self and Mrs H approaching him at 20mph+ whilst looking straight at us, forcing us to slam on the anchors. If he's not going to stop when he sees two adult cyclists approaching side by side in broad daylight, why would he stop when a device beeps?

These gizmos will doubtless have their place with autonomous vehicles, people driving cars are supposed to use their eyes.

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mdavidford | 2 years ago
9 likes

Quote:

bicycle-to-vehicle communication standard

Is anyone going to tell them that bicycles are vehicles?

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Philh68 replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
8 likes

The car industry doesn't want to admit that, because once they do then they're admitting a person riding a bicycle is equally entitled to road space as a person driving a car. Perpetuating the myths to justify their product is what it's about. Ever seen a car advertisement that doesn't show the picture perfect family cruising serenely along some empty road, instead of the reality of being stuck in a traffic jam with kids arguing, on the rare occasion it's not just a driver alone in the car? The truth won't sell cars.

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David9694 | 2 years ago
9 likes

B2V = the new hi-viz. No thanks. Expect "cyclists snub safety measures" from the ABD, Fair Fule, etc.

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Rendel Harris replied to David9694 | 2 years ago
8 likes

David9694 wrote:

B2V = the new hi-viz. No thanks. Expect "cyclists snub safety measures" from the ABD, Fair Fule, etc.

Yep, followed by "A driver was found not guilty of careless driving when he killed a cyclist by driving straight into her in broad daylight when it was her right of way. A court in London heard that the cyclist had failed to equip her bike with optional safety equipment that could have prevented the collision. The presiding judge, Sir Tarquin Fortescue-Bassington, said in dismissing the case, 'It's most unfortunate that this young lady should have failed to avail herself of basic safety measures that cost just a few hundred pounds and £50 a month subscription. I do hope the driver can recover from this trauma and rebuild his life, and he has the sympathy of the court.'" 

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RobD replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
9 likes

This is exactly my concern with it, it'll be another reason why it'll be the cyclist's fault when they're hit by a car. And we've all seen how many drivers will blindly follow their sat nav into a river or into situations that they'd never end up in by just looking what they're doing properly, I worry that they'll get so used to a little light or beep etc to tell them what's around them that they won't asses the situation on the road anymore. A bit like the blind spot sensors some cars have in the side mirrors, after a while drivers stop actually paying attention to what it's telling them anyway.

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alansmurphy replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
1 like

Rendel Harris wrote:

The presiding judge, Sir Tarquin Fortescue-Bassington, said in dismissing the case

 

A fine gent, played wiff waff with him just last week

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Mungecrundle | 2 years ago
7 likes

Any system that requires a human on both ends to purchase and install equipment, remember to turn it on and then actually take some notice of what it is telling them is utterly doomed to failure.

The start point with any tech intended to protect the vulnerable road user is to ensure that self driving cars or those with driver assist warning devices recognise cyclists, pedestrians, horseists etc in all circumstances and prevent the vehicle from colliding with them.

To that end I would not be adverse to fitting a small, passive lidar / radar reflector device to increase my visibility to such detectors.

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Philh68 replied to Mungecrundle | 2 years ago
13 likes

Trouble is the tech companies developing cyclist detection systems only see people on one side of the problem they're trying to solve. Take this quote from Navtech:

"Cyclists have the potential to cause incidents when present on busy roads and bridges, or in tunnels. Vehicles may fail to recognise cyclist presence, or they may dangerously manoeuvre around them, leading to accidents and then secondary collisions."

See, it's a behavioural problem with cyclists just by being there but an engineering problem with motor vehicles. No mention of the driver's responsibilities. So they're trying to solve it as an engineering problem by motion tracking in ways a machine can understand, not address the human behaviours that are the real cause of the problem. And there's no acknowledgement of poor road engineering that may cause a cyclist to do what a car driver perceives as erratic behaviour, and therefore what the tech will see as erratic behaviour.

Car manufacturers are promoting these kinds of technology as them being socially responsible, while simultaneously resisting efforts to implement higher crash standards to reduce pedestrian and cyclist fatalities which have increased in line with rising SUV sales. Colour me sceptical.

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alansmurphy replied to Philh68 | 2 years ago
3 likes

If they want an engineering solution then a black box, or instant points on license when speeding would certainly have a greater impact!

 

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mikewood | 2 years ago
2 likes

Not sure how they will do this as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi don't have the range so it'll need something much more powerful that phones or head units don't currently have. If they do create something, it'll gobble the battery at an alarming rate

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alansmurphy replied to mikewood | 2 years ago
1 like

It'll work at around 50cm which is the space that the drivers that need this device will generally give a cyclist!

 

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Milkfloat | 2 years ago
15 likes

No, no, no, no, no and once again no.  Putting the onus on the vulnerable is complete nonsense. It is not practical to or economic to fit these devices to every bike/rider/pedestrian and shifts the responsibility from the more dangerous vehicle.

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eburtthebike | 2 years ago
8 likes

Right. So you're only safe if you've paid some anonymous corporation some money. Hmmmmm. Not what I thought road safety was about really.

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wtjs | 2 years ago
11 likes

What a load of tripe! Almost all the offences against me were committed by people who were fully aware I was there- they just didn't care.

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0-0 | 2 years ago
11 likes

"bicycle-to-vehicle communication".

Isn't that usually done with one finger or possibly two?

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wtjs replied to 0-0 | 2 years ago
1 like

Isn't that usually done with one finger or possibly two

Two in this country. We do not perform stupid American gestures here!

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aegisdesign replied to wtjs | 2 years ago
0 likes

wtjs wrote:

Isn't that usually done with one finger or possibly two Two in this country. We do not perform stupid American gestures here!

Isn't the international sign of the wanker universally recognised? Problem solved.

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grumpyoldcyclist | 2 years ago
0 likes

As long as any industry standard defaults to slowwing the car down then it's a start. They must also make sure that cannot be over-ridden by accelerating harder. If a driver chooses to ignore a cyclist in the first place, they will just as soon ignore the 

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Rapha Nadal | 2 years ago
12 likes

Or, and here's a super radical concept, drivers could just pay attention in the first place?

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Bungle_52 replied to Rapha Nadal | 2 years ago
7 likes

And be suitably punished when they don't.

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