New technology for cyclists at traffic signals welcome

Traffic signals CS3

Transport for London is trialling a new technology to detect the volumes of cyclists at traffic signals – news which we've welcomed as long overdue. The new technology, which is being trialled along Cycle Superhighway 3 on Cable Street, will enable traffic signal timings to adjust in real time to cater for high numbers of cyclists at key junctions during peak times throughout the day.

If it works well, this technology could be great news for cyclists. On Cable Street in peak hour the number of cyclists is far higher than the number of motor vehicles. If the system can give cyclists a fair share of the green time then journeys will be made both safer and more enjoyable. As record levels of cycling in London are being reported, it’s clear that cyclists should have a fair share of the green time. If this new technology can deliver that, it’s great news all round. 

Infrastructure that makes cyclists feel that it’s better to break the rules is not just frustrating, but potentially dangerous. If a cyclist arrives at a junction and has to wait 120 seconds to cross, they’re more likely to jump the light. In Holland or Denmark, where a much greater percentage of the population chooses to cycle, infrastructure is designed to feel safe and inviting for cycling and favourable waiting times for cyclists are the norm.

Recent research from America shows that when infrastructure is designed to help people on bikes they are much less likely to break the law. A survey of 18,000 people has been conducted by a professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado. The results indicate that cyclists riding through red lights or on pavements aren’t doing so because they want to break the law, but because they want and need good quality infrastructure.

Two types of new technology are being trialled – one radar based and one thermal based, which detects the heat profile of riders as they enter the detection zone. Transport for London say that subject to the trials, they’ll be looking to expand the use of the technology as well as integrating it into London’s traffic signalling system, SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique).