Ealing Council leading the way in cycle safety

A trial of new technology for lorry drivers has shown marked improvements in safety for cyclists with 15 potential serious collisions avoided in six months.20131201-203838.jpg

Independent results of the Cycle Safety Shield detection system, first trialled by Ealing Council, also revealed a significant 20% improvement in driver behaviour and cash fuel savings of £1,000 per vehicle per year, due to less aggressive acceleration and breaking.

The system is the first of its kind to use intelligent cameras to filter out inanimate objects, such as bus stops and fences, to monitor and detect only pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikes and eliminate blind spots 360 degrees around the vehicle.

During the trial period, which ran from January to June, the system detected more than 40,000 cyclists, pedestrians and motorbikes but an alarm only alerted the driver on 15 occasions, when they became close enough to collide with the lorry.

Cycle Safety Shield has proven so successful it is one of several safety systems currently being further independently tested by Transport for London on buses and lorries.

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “We are committed to reducing lorry danger because we know they are involved in approximately two thirds of cyclist deaths in London.

“This technology can save families from hearing the tragic news of a loved one’s death. In each of the alerts during the trial the driver was travelling an average of 13.6mph, which means that 15 potentially serious or even fatal collisions were avoided because the driver was warned.

“Some of the other technology in the market overloads drivers with constant alerts when objects get too close. When this system goes off the driver knows that a cyclist, pedestrian or motorcyclist is in danger, giving them time to brake. There is also a visual and audio warning to cyclists when a vehicle is turning left.

“By improving the style of driving, fuel efficiency also improved which means the system effectively pays for itself. We are in discussions with TfL and if their own independent results support those so far, we are keen to look at further roll out of this system across our fleet.”

Ealing Council developed this technology in partnership with Safety Shields Systems and the trial was funded through Transport for London’s borough cycling programme. Ealing Council has fitted the system to a ten-plate grab lorry, which is operated by its highway contractor, Murrill Construction Limited, and is currently still in use in the borough.