Can new safety technology save cyclists?

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The London Borough of Ealing last month launched a detection system for Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs) that could reduce blind spot danger to cyclists and 

Following input from the London Cycling Campaign, Cycle Safety Shield’s latest model appears to be a step forward, but will hardware like this really make our roads safer?

Unlike its predecessors, Cycle Safety Shield with its Mobileye EyeQ2 chip is able to differentiate between inanimate and animate objects in ‘almost every weather condition’, triggering an 
‘accident avoidance 
system’ when a 
pedestrian or cyclist is within 30 metres.

Of 14 deaths in London this year, lorries were involved in nine, and though CSS is part of an arsenal against lorry fatalities, it’s not the whole story. Earlier this year the Metropolitan Police’s Simon Castle, who helped test CSS equipment and its counterparts at the Transport Research Laboratory, said there is a risk that 
drivers could come to rely on a system that may not be failsafe.

Castle said: “I’ve concerns about all the systems and that’s why they are going through scientific, real-world 
testing at the TRL. I’m hoping that by working with Cycle Alert and Cycle Shield and saving haulage companies money, we can make things safer.”

The argument for these devices is that they encourage more vigilant driving. CSS issues a warning if the vehicle changes lanes at over 30mph without indicating, or if the driver 
accelerates or brakes 
suddenly, or if they 
risk collision with 
another vehicle, cyclist 
or pedestrian.

A black box recorder captures all the information, and according to Safety Shield Systems can improve driver behaviour by 60 per cent as well as fuel efficiency by around 20 per cent. Ealing’s CSS-fitted lorries are being monitored in this way.

However, while boroughs like Ealing, and some larger haulage companies, also invest in on-bike training for LGV contractors, CTC’s policy director Roger Geffen said those with narrower 
margins often do not do so, with some 
operating below the minimum legal standards. During Road Safety Week, half of lorry drivers stopped by the police had been breaking safety rules.

The CTC recently asked the 
government to hold rogue hauliers to account, and Geffen says its cycling and freight teams are finally starting to talk.

He explained: “It’s about time. The government hasn’t been at the table; the freight industry has been there doing things to work on this issue and the DfT simply hasn’t.”

This article was first published in the December 5 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!