cyclistsA sobering statistic: 19,000 cyclists suffered an accident or were killed on Britain’s roads last year.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), the ‘most common contributory factor… was failure to look properly,’ by car drivers. This factor accounted for 57% of all accidents involving cars and cyclists.

The number of cars on Britain’s roads has risen too a record 32 million according to Reuters UK. This increase includes a high proportion of vehicles over the age of 12 years and these older vehicles are less likely to have some of the most recent technological innovations, which can alert the driver to a nearby cyclist. As a result of the increase in people commuting to work on a bike, companies such as Brigade Electronics have produced sensors, cameras and a whole host of gadgets to protect the motorist and others on the road around them.

Technological advances
There are many ways in which a driver can ensure their own safety and that of other road users. In December 2013 the BBC published an article about methods in which car drivers can avoid cyclists through technology. Working in tandem with British universities, Cycle Eye is an innovative scheme that uses image processing technology as a way for buses to identify nearby cyclists. Speaking about this development, ROSPA’s head of road safety, Kevin Clinton, said: ‘with technologies of this type the key thing is to trial them to make sure they work reliably.’ During tests carried out by Transport for London, the Cycle Eye had a 95% success rate in identifying cyclists over three days.

Cyclist detection
In bad weather or in the frantic commute to work, it’s all too easy for a motorist to be unaware of cyclists. With this in mind, the Swedish car manufacturer, Volvo, developed an auto brake on its cars in 2013. Using sonar, the innovation can detect bicycles in all weathers, and the car brakes are automatically applied if a cyclist has to manoeuvre quickly in front of the car. The website Tech Radar describes the invention as ‘good news for cyclists who share the roads with cars.’

Common sense is always a good idea
Over the last decade there appears to have been a battle between cyclists and motorists. Many car drivers claim that cyclists make rash and unpredictable movements in busy traffic and that they are the main cause of road accidents between the two methods of transport. Pedestrians are also injured in cycling accidents.

Roger Geffen, a director at the national cycling charity, CTC, advocates, ‘the provision of high quality cycle tracks … so as to avoid creating conflict with pedestrians.’ Many cities across the UK have introduced special cyclists’ routes in a bid to improve road safety. The Sustrans website has nationwide maps of cycle routes that encompass the length and breadth of the country and provide cyclists with a safer option than busy roads. Where cars and bikes do share the same road, then both parties should give each other plenty of room and remember to expect the unexpected.

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