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Software that detects motorists blocking cycle lanes being trialled in Nice

The video software, which automatically detects vehicles parked on bike lanes, has so far spotted an average of 50 infractions a day, with the offending drivers all receiving fines

If you’re currently contemplating parking your car on a cycle lane along the Côte d'Azur, think again. Because for the next month, any vehicles left on Nice’s cycling infrastructure will be subject to an experimental form of video ticketing, which has so far resulted in 50 motorists a day receiving fines for blocking bike lanes.

The three-month trial, which began in early December, involves the use of new video software able to automatically detect illegally parked cars, which will then be checked by an official, reports The Connexion.

Nice, which has 73 kilometres of cycle lanes and paths, also has more cameras per square metre than anywhere else in France, with 3,900 dotted around the city.

The pilot scheme is being tested in nine areas deemed to be particularly susceptible to cycle lane parking. Any car, lorry, scooter, or motorbike parked on a bike path is identified by an algorithm, and after one minute – the time needed for the parking to be recognised as an offence – the software will automatically notify an operator of Nice’s Urban Surveillance Centre (CSU), who will then be able to validate the infraction and, using their discretion, issue a fine.

According to the Connexion, the CSU will show “zero tolerance” to delivery drivers, who are commonly viewed as the city’s worst offenders for bike lane parking.

One delivery driver told the website that Nice is already “a nightmare” due to the number of cycle lanes in the city, and that the trial will cause “chaos” because there will now be “nowhere to park”.

However, Daniele Sottile, a member of the cycling campaign group Nice à Velo, believes that the experiment has been a long time coming and will hopefully have a positive effect on road safety in the city.

“Nine times out of ten, there is someone in the way [of the cycle lane]. Often, it’s delivery people, sometimes cars parked for five minutes, but very often scooters or motorcycles,” Sottile says.

“It puts us in danger because the cyclist has to get out of the lane without looking back. We’ve been asking for this for a long time, so we’re happy. We hope that, in a few months, we will see the effects.”

> Councils get new powers to fine drivers parking in bike lanes

Nice’s First Deputy Mayor, Anthony Borré, says that 20 CSU employees will be working around the clock as part of the scheme, which – if viewed as a success – will be extended in the coming months.

“The software was made in France and cost us €100,000. At the end of the three months, if the experimentation phase is ‘conclusive’, the city council intends to extend it to other roads,” Borré, said.

According to Gaël Nofri, the city’s deputy mayor in charge of transport, traffic, and parking, 6,000 tickets are issued each year in Nice, two-thirds of which are the result of video surveillance.

> Transport for London to begin fining motorists caught driving in mandatory cycle lanes

In 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) gave local authorities in England the power to use CCTV to fine drivers who park or load illegally in mandatory cycle lanes.

“Cars parked on cycle lanes pose problems for cyclists, often forcing them into the flow of traffic,” the DfT said in a statement at the time.

“With approved camera devices, it will be easier for those local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers to take action against cars illegally parked on mandatory cycle lanes, allowing cyclists to complete their journeys without deviating from their path.”

Last June, Transport for London began using existing CCTV cameras to issue fines to motorists driving in cycle lanes and cycle tracks at key locations in the city, a power previously only enforced by the police.

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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