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TfL blazing the trail for cyclists – could British roads be getting safer for cyclists?

TfL have long been at the forefront of introducing new technology to make things better for its citizens and here at Clearview Traffic, we’ve worked with them on a number of innovations and trials over the years.

cycle highway

So their recent PR announcement about them investing in new technology to keep London moving is no big surprise – and presents a welcome addition to improving road safety and network efficiency.

In the announcement, it talks about Boris being shown how TfL are expanding the use of adaptive road junction technology, including the ‘Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique’ (SCOOT) to optimise traffic light timings in outer London. The introduction of SCOOT across London is quoted as having proven to reduce delays by up to 12% at each junction where it has been installed.

Reducing road congestion is a core areas of business for us, so we know that SCOOT is a great move. It’s a technology that relies on accurate detection of the presence of moving vehicles approaching the junction, and then feeds that information direct into the traffic signal controller as seeing demand for a green light.

In the past, the vehicle detection component of this solution has been fulfilled by inductive loops which are installed into the road surface.

Sadly, the invasive nature of the installation of these loops, and the often crumbling state of the road surface, means that whilst they are an excellent detection technology, they do need fairly frequent maintenance to deliver that same accuracy year-in-year-out.

However, what TfL have done is to look at alternative forms of detection that can meet this need.

And we’ve been working with them since around 2009 on this project. For just over two years, they trialled our M100 traffic signal wireless detection solution – looking for ways to break it, in fact, until they felt that it did what it said on the tin. As leading providers of intelligent transport systems in the UK, we of course had complete faith in the M100.

And since 2011, this technology has become the detection method of choice within TfL for the deployment of SCOOT. To-date, this has led to over 800 junctions across London being upgraded using this technology, with many more planned over the next two and a half years.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Whilst this solution is great at detecting the presence of motor vehicles, TfL rightly want and need something that can detect bicycles, as this more sustainable form of transport increases in popularity and the growing investment in cycling infrastructure such as the cycle superhighways continues at pace.

So, we’ve been trialling a new radar-based solution that can be specifically used to detect bicycles at advance stop lines or on dedicated cycle lane approaches to junctions.

The radar solution known as the M100BR, uses the same wireless communications system as the M100, which in turn means that it can be retro-fitted onto existing SCOOT sites and deployed wherever needed.

The trials have been such a success that the technology is now being written into the specification for future junctions involving cycle traffic. This marks a huge potential step forward in improving cyclist safety on the roads in London.

This solution means that for the first time cyclists will become visible to the traffic signal controller and their presence can be taken into account when phasing the changing of the traffic signals.

Doing this will help to make cyclists feel safer and feel part of the traffic, so will alter their behaviour, and make them feel less inclined to take unnecessary risks and jump the lights just because they think it is safe.

This is just another example of how TfL is leading the way and making roads safer for all. And our input in providing innovative solutions is helping to improve cyclist safety, too.

It’s an approach that others such as Bournemouth are also taking – it’s worth asking if your cyclists deserve to feel safer? Do you other road users need to pay more attention to cyclists? Could your roads become fairer for all users?

If so, why not share your challenges with us, and see if we can work it out together.

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