London testing cyclist detection systems for traffic lights

Posted Jun 9, 2015 by James Walker
Transport for London is to install special cyclist detection systems at traffic lights throughout the city in an effort to make cycling safer. Traffic lights will know how many cyclists are waiting and adjust timings so they have longer to get away in.
A man walks past a rental bicycle sponsored by Barclays in London
A man walks past a rental bicycle sponsored by Barclays in London
� Toby Melville / Reuters, Reuters
Two different technologies will be tested. One uses a system of radar to work out when a cyclist is approaching while another can detect the heat of riders as they pass along cycle lanes using thermal imaging techniques.
Both methods are used to work out the number of cyclists travelling along a route. By communicating with each other, the system then adjusts the timings of the traffic signals so that cyclists have more time to get away from a green light, as Gizmag reports.
London mayor Boris Johnson writes in a TfL statement: "Once again London leads the way as we host world-first trials of technology that has the potential to bring significant benefits to cyclists. With record numbers taking to two wheels we are doing everything we can to make our roads more inviting places to be."
The trials will be used to assess which system would be the most suitable for use across all of London. The aim is to deploy such technologies in either radar or thermal form on the city's new Cycle Superhighways.
The system is an expansion of an existing trial scheme for pedestrians, dubbed SCOOT for Pedestrian Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique. This can detect when large crowds of people are waiting to cross a road and increase the time that a red light is shown to drivers for, giving the group a longer time to cross. This is now installed at more than half of the road crossings in London.
The developments are being made as part of Transport for London's £4 billion Road Modernisation Plan which is intended to investigate the best methods to keep London moving and accessible to all forms of transport. The program is using cutting-edge technology to make London's roads safer and greener over the next five years to 2020.