Imagine a world where one day, cyclists and cars can coexist in harmony. It may sound like a utopian ideal, yet that is what a collection of major bicycle manufacturers and car manufacturers are working toward. Together with technology companies, they are part of the Bicycle-to-Vehicle Executive Advisory Board, aiming to make safer streets a reality.
One thing they are developing is bicycle to vehicle communications. A team in Turin has been trialing this recently. They fit bikes with a 5G transceiver, which sends its position to cars via Bluetooth or a wireless network. A driver connected to the system would receive a warning that there is a cyclist ahead, giving them extra time to take appropriate action.
These companies dream that our streets will operate interactively, with information about each vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian’s position beaming through the air. A set of computer chips or apps in cars, traffic lights and cycles will talk to each other taking action based upon the messages they receive. Doing so will improve the flow for everyone and reduce the number of accidents due to human error.
There are already lesser technologies available and in limited use, such as the collision warning system in new Volvos, which brakes for bikes. Or Garmin’s radar system, which advises cyclists of vehicles approaching from behind.
While all this is good news for cyclists, it will be a long time before technology makes our streets safer for the majority. As with any new safety system, it will take years before enough road users adopt it to make a significant difference. Until then, the onus is on drivers to look out for bicycles and adjust their behavior to avoid injuring a cyclist.