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An inexpensive piece of kit that is as easy to install as a car radio could soon help to reduce the number of cyclist deaths on Britain’s streets.
Technology entrepreneur Peter Le Masurier came up with the idea for Cycle Alert after hearing an interview in which a truck driver described the devastating effect on his life of being involved in a collision in which a cyclist had been killed.
“With technology being close to my heart, I thought, there must be something out there that can alert a driver to the presence of a cyclist. I realised there wasn’t.”
Le Masurier asked Southampton-based ASH Wireless Electronics to find a solution. Its answer was to attach simple devices to both vehicles that communicate via wireless technology. If the bike gets close to the truck, perhaps at a road junction, the driver is alerted via a dashboard receiver. “It is just two wires – it’s like fitting a radio into a car,” explained Steve Braithwaite, ASH’s managing director.
The technology has been trialled at University of York this year, where buses were fitted with the units and bike-mounted tags were given to students. A similar trial was due to begin this month with haulage contractors working on the redevelopment of London’s Elephant & Castle, but has now been postponed in light of another cyclist fatality last week near the notorious junction.
Le Masurier, a former lawyer who founded and sold TotalTravel, an online travel company, has had discussions with several London councils and has offered to give the technology for free to Transport for London to fit on the transport authority’s pay-by-the-hour “Boris bikes”.
When Cycle Alert goes on sale, he expects the units to retail for about £400 per vehicle and the tags to sell for under £20.
“We did a survey and 95 per cent of people said they would buy it for a friend or loved one. We have to create a critical mass,” Le Masurier said. He hopes Cycle Alert will one day be fitted as standard to cycle equipment such as helmets and clothing.