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Maintaining signalised junction efficiencies whilst improving cyclist safety in the UK

As leading providers of traffic data solutions and improving road safety for cyclists, at Clearview Traffic we’re finding that many local authorities are increasingly promoting cycling as part of their sustainable travel plans, and these are being actively supported by funding available through the DfT funding for sustainable transport projects.

M100BR Bicycle Radar Sensor

Cycling and the number of incidents are on the increase

The popularity of cycling has increased as a mode of transport of choice, both for leisure and as a method of commuting to and from work. London, for example, has seen a 173% increase since 2001, and is expected to double again in the next decade.

Such an increase in turn creates its own set of issues and needs – particularly around the safety of cyclists at signalised junctions.

Accidents involving cyclists, particularly in London with a recent spate of fatalities, has highlighted the issues further and increased the calls for modifications to junctions and signalling such as specific traffic signals for bicycles to be provided – either in the form of an early start cycle green, or dedicated signal phases for cyclists, to improve safety.

Do we need a radical solution?

With any media coverage of multiple fatalities comes the intense debate about how things can be done differently – and hopefully better.

The first reaction is almost always to think of the radical fix options, but these are usually impractical, economically unviable, and blinkered such as the SkyCycle; and the public are equally quick to point out the shortcomings of such schemes often offering practical, viable alternatives such as better lane delineation and bicycle detection.

Whilst in-vehicle detection of cyclists may offer one solution, this will not be suitable for all vehicles and will simply compete for the driver’s attention as yet another device on the ever-cluttered car or lorry dashboard.

Might it not make more sense for this detection to be built into the road infrastructure, as it is for motorised vehicles?

Accurate detection is key

At traffic junctions today (where 75% of bicycle accidents occur), we accept traffic signals as the norm and it is necessary to include accurate detection as an integral part of the solution to ensure that the efficiency of the junction can be maintained. The same can (and should) be used for bicycle detection.

In the Netherlands, for example, bicycle phases are operated without detection on a timed basis that reduces the efficiency of the junction when no cyclists are present.

Within a city equipped with Adaptive Traffic Signal control if either existing phases are to change, bicycle pre start greens provided or additional bicycle phases are included the overall efficiency of the junction for traditional vehicle users will be impacted.

If such changes are only implemented when a cyclist is actually present, the overall efficiency for all road users will then be maximised.

To meet the demand for bicycle detection and, more importantly, accurate detection Clearview Traffic are extending the successful and cost-effective M100 wireless vehicle detection range with the addition of a new bicycle radar sensor, the M100BR.

Upping the game with simple sensor technology

This sensor can be used in a range of locations where bicycle detection is required – such as cycle lane approaches to junctions, or Advance Stop Lines, and differentiate between a vehicle and a bicycle.

The M100BR has already been deployed at a number of locations, including the busy and hazardous junction on Whitelegg Way – A347 in Bournemouth.

At this location, the failure to detect cyclists wanting to exit the side road when no other vehicles were present led to complaints from cyclists having to wait a long time for the green signal – and therefore resulted in a number of cyclists trying to get through the junction at inappropriate times, causing a number of incidents and near misses.

Now installed, the M100BR detects the bicycles, allowing the controller to only initiate the quicker green phase when needed – therefore improving the junction efficiency and safety for all road users.

If you’d like to find out more about our traffic data collection and cyclist safety systems, including the M100BR, please feel free to contact us here.

Author: |Date Published: February 2014

Links: Route Safety Cycle Safety

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