Cycle Alerts system attempts to design out risk from large lorries, but concerns over its potential

On Thursday 5 July 2012 LCC attended a demonstration of Cycle Alert’s new HGV-cyclist sensor system which took place around London's Elephant & Castle.

The product is designed so HGV drivers detect the presence of nearby cyclists, using equipment mounted on the sides of their lorry and also on bicycles (see below).

A tiny transmitter (about the size of a milk bottle top) on the bike or helmet emits a signal that's picked up by the sensor on the HGV when it's in close proximity, warning the driver of the bike's presence via a screen or light system (see below), as well as an audible signal.

The device is designed to ensure HGV drivers are aware of cyclists around them, so they use extra caution to reduce the number of serious and fatal cyclist collisions involving large lorries that take place in London.

During the demonstration, the system worked well: when a bike fitted with the equipment came within sensor range (approx 3m) of an HGV, the driver was alerted to the cyclist's presence immediately.

The main problem with this device appears to be the logistics of installing devices on potentially millions of bikes in the capital and the UK.

It's not clear yet whether transmitters would be installed by manufacturers or consumers, and a cost of £25-30 per unit is likely to be a barrier to widespread use.

Unlike some competing sensor technologies, if a bicycle not fitted with a transmitter comes near the HGV, the system doesn't provide a warning.

As part of our long-running No More Lethal Lorries campaign, we've called for safer designs for lorries, including greater use of sensors, but expect these technologicial improvements to be put in place alongside other measures such as on-bike cyclist-awareness training for drivers to reduce the number of fatal collisions.

Article edited 9 July to add the cost and size details for individual transmitters.