UK safety app keeping lorries on the right side of cyclists

Pedallers safer in a left-hand-turn-free world

A cyclist on the road in London.
Photograph by Alexander Baxevanis (https://flic.kr/p/bth2xT)

A route-planning app that will help lorries avoid left-hand turns – manoeuvres responsible for the majority of road deaths among cyclists – is being piloted in a scheme funded by the government's Transport Systems Catapult.

PIE Mapping, a British company which already delivers route-planning products to hauliers, is developing the smartphone app and other navigation systems which will provide lorries with routes through urban areas that avoid left-hand turns at risky junctions.

The system will guide lorries through routes optimising right-hand turns and roundabouts, where HGV traffic is segregated from cycle lanes.

All five of the cyclist deaths that occurred this year in London have been the result of collisions with lorries. The Register understands this is also true for more than twenty other fatal accidents nationwide.

Broader figures reveal that half of all recorded cyclist deaths involve collisions with lorries, and three-quarters of those were left-turn incidents.

"At a basic level we need to keep cyclists away from big lorries," Charlie Lloyd, campaigns officer at the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), told The Register, stressing the need for protected space at junctions.

Lorry/cyclist collisions remain rare but the high probability of fatalities in such collisions and widespread concern among cyclists about the safety of London's roads has prompted much debate. This became particularly intense following a two-week period during November 2013, in which six cyclists were killed.

Lloyd cautiously welcomed the piloted app as another tool towards safer roads.

"The worry is, if the suggested routes are even ten per cent longer than the drivers' regular routes then the drivers may be disincentivised to take them," he added.

Lloyd believes that ultimately cyclist safety depends on getting drivers a street-level cab, enabling them to see cyclists and pedestrians when making left-hand turns.

The Transport Systems Catapult is one of seven "elite technology and innovation centres established and overseen by the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK".

It intends to commit £100m over the next decade to "competitively won" R&D projects, as well as to funding for long-term investment in infrastructure, expertise and skills development. ®


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