Central Beds cyclist-safety initiative wins £100,000 from government

A Central Bedfordshire cycle safety project has won £100,000 of government funding. Picture: Getty/Thomas Northcut

A Central Bedfordshire cycle safety project has won £100,000 of government funding. Picture: Getty/Thomas Northcut

(c) Thomas Northcut

An innovative bike safety project in Central Bedfordshire is one of three to have won £100,000 of government funding.

The funding will be used by Central Beds Council to test proposals for a wider range of sensor technologies that will interact with new signs on rural roads to inform motorists of cyclists’ presence.

The council hopes the initiative will help make cycling and walking around the county safer, while encouraging more people to take up cycling at all ages as part of what it has called a “green revolution in transport”.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, 1,011 cyclists are killed or seriously injured for every billion miles travelled – compared to 26 car drivers.

Councillor Budge Wells, the authority’s deputy executive member for community services, said almost half of cyclist deaths occurred on rural roads.

“We are primarily a rural local authority. Part of our focus on developing a cycle network across our region is to improve the safety of rural roads. We are using this funding to explore the innovative use of technology to alert drivers to the presence of cyclists in the road ahead.”

Two rural routes in Central Bedfordshire will be trialled in this cycle safety pilot, and two different types of technology – one prototype using radar detection, the other thermal detection. The routes will be those used typically by cyclists who use bikes as a form of sustainable transport, such as commuters to rail stations, rather than the lycra-clad leisure riders.

The council is set to carry out further survey work before confirming in April or early May which routes will be used.

The system will detect a cyclist and then trigger a flashing warning on the road sign. The signs will be located on rural roads in places where cyclists are no longer in the field of vision – for example near bends, dips or junctions.

A council spokeswoman said: “This project is particularly important because most cycle-safety initiatives are currently mainly aimed at urban areas.

“It’s harder to implement these on rural roads, where there are usually higher speed limits, and a lack of space or street lighting to attach signs to.

“Also, rural cyclists are often less frequent and more spread out than within the hustle and bustle of a town. So in rural areas, technology-based solutions are more appropriate.”

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