Q&A – London Cycling Campaign – How Many Bikes?

Well, sort of.  The question put to us by London Cycling Campaign was as such:

“How many of 1-2 million bikes in London need to fit a tag before a lorry driver can be sure he’ll not put a cyclist in danger?”

To offer a driver certainty that he/she will not put a cyclist in danger with Cycle Alert is absolutely not what Cycle Alert sets out to achieve. (I’m unsure as to whether this is a purposely-misleading question; more likely it is unbiased but ill informed due to the time ago in which it was originally proposed – back when Cycle Alert was at its early conception).

A lorry driver can never rest on his/her laurels whilst using Cycle Alert; it has not been designed as a ‘piece of mind’ apparatus – on the contrary, it is designed to make one more aware of cyclists, more aware of the vulnerable road users around the driver, more attentive to their mirrors, more astute to hazard. We fervently challenge those who claim their technology products can eliminate large vehicle danger to cyclists. Claims made by some companies such as lorry drivers using their product can “concentrate on driving and not be continuously checking for cyclists,” is absolutely preposterous and demonstrably wrong.

Large vehicles (LGVs) will always present a danger to cyclists by their very nature; there is no lorry cab design, no piece of technology, no safer urban driving class that will completely eradicate this danger. But by applying a combination of these practices, we can significantly diminish the risks. Throw better cycle infrastructure into the safety mix, we say a Vision Zero for cycle fatalities is wholly achievable.

Cycle Alert can provide a very real safety boost to cyclists and delivers a retrofit piece of equipment that adds another string to the bow of a driver’s safety tools in a system that is non-distracting. No momentary lapse of concentration on the part of a driver of a cyclist should result in a fatality. It is absurd and I refer you to last week’s piece in the Guardian on the subject of near-misses. No cyclist should be killed by a vehicle, irrespective of fault. And Cycle Alert has a tangible contribution to make with regards to these issues on Large Good Vehicles, the most dangerous vehicles of all.

In conclusion, if it’s a number you’re after in terms of how many tags need to be fit on London’s cycles before a lorry driver can stop looking out for cyclists, the answer is in the number Zero. Vision Zero.

mr motorist look out

I believe this makes some headway into answering the question posed, though I am conscious that perhaps the question was put to me wrong, and the enquiry is actually more concerned with our aims for critical mass.

Well, an independent survey shows that 50% of the market is our critical mass figure – which is wholly achievable – and both drivers and cyclists would feel safer if they thought the respective party was 50% of the market.  Our ambition is to have RFID technology fitted at manufacturer level on both cycles and HGVs, which we are already discussing with manufacturers of vehicles and cycles alike.

Results of the survey we commissioned of 4000 people show that 87% of respondents said they would consider buying Cycle Alert and 91% said they would consider buying it for a friend.

Not everyone will have a Cycle Alert tag, people still choose not to wear a helmet and people will still cycle and drive irresponsibly, but not everyone has to have it for there to still be a palpable increase to road safety.  The non-tagged cyclist is no more vulnerable than he/she is in the current climate.  Our mission through Cycle Alert is to generate an increase in education for all road users – both tagged and untagged – and thus greater safety.