Midlothian Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to install a revolutionary system on four of its refuse collection vehicles that could be a major step forward in improving cyclist safety on our roads.
Council staff and a cyclist showcased the Cyclear system, from Innovative Safety Systems Ltd (ISS), at a special demonstration on Wednesday 12 November at Vogrie Country Park, near Gorebridge.
Councillor Rosie welcomed the new safety initiative. He said: “Midlothian Council takes cyclists’ safety very seriously and we are extremely conscious of the dangers posed to them when coming into contact with heavy vehicles, especially when turning left. There are a number of cycle warning systems available, however we took the decision to fit the latest technology available.”
The device works by communicating both with the cyclist and the driver:
It warns cyclists when a truck is about to turn left
It detects cyclists and makes drivers aware of their presence
An illuminated disc is positioned on the back of the vehicle which lights up with an image of a bike with a ‘strike’ through it when the vehicle driver indicates left. If a cyclist tries to undertake the vehicle on the near side, a sensor on the vehicle picks up the movement and alerts the driver.
Keith Boyfield, the sales manager for Scotland and the north of England for ISS, explained: “For safety technology to be effective it needs to be 100% reliable. The Cyclear system is unique in that it eliminates virtually all ‘false alarms’ by only detecting the progressive movement made by the cyclist, unlike other systems, which can be triggered by stationary objects.”
Cllr Rosie said on average 12 cyclists are reported as injured on Midlothian roads every year. In 2013, one cyclist died on the B7003 at Roslin Glen.
He said: “However, we know that cycling accidents are often under reported so these figures are probably much higher.”
Transport Scotland figures for 2013 found that across Scotland 882 cyclists were injured, 148 seriously with 13 cycling deaths reported.
Keith Irving, the Chief Executive of Cycling Scotland, said: “It is especially important that any organisation operating HGV vehicles ensures that they are operated safely and with utmost consideration of other road users. This welcome initiative shows that Midlothian Council is taking steps to ensure safety of other road users and these types of initiatives should become standard for all HGV operators. Education and practical training is also essential to generating mutual understanding by putting lorry drivers in the position of those who travel by bike, both in theory and in practice, so that they are much more aware of people on bikes while out on the road. This type of Cycle Awareness course for HGV and professional drivers is something that Cycling Scotland has already helped establish in Edinburgh and we will continue to support wider roll out of it across Scotland.”
Cllr Rosie added: “We are encouraging as many people as possible to cycle instead of taking the car for the health and environmental benefits. In fact, we’ve just launched a cycling survey which will inform our first ever Midlothian Cycling Strategy – so any new technology which helps make roads safer for cyclists is to be encouraged.”
The Cyclear system has been designed and manufactured in the UK, and has undergone three years of research, development and training.
City of London, Cardiff City Council and Luton Borough Council all use Cyclear. Also private companies such as SERCO are specifying Cyclear as standard throughout their fleet.