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New satnav alerts lorry drivers to presence of cyclists

  • notfrancois, Flickr

Every time they head out onto the nation’s A-roads, cyclists take their life in their hands. Or rather they put it in the hands of lorry drivers. Cyclists’ forums are full of horror stories about near-fatal incidents caused by the thoughtlessness or aggression of lorry drivers.

Now a new satnav app attempts to address the problem and increase lorry drivers’ awareness of cyclists. Navevo’s device will alert drivers that they are approaching areas popular with cyclists.

Initially the device is limited to London. Transport for London officials have provided details of the 100 most dangerous areas for cyclists in the capital. The manufacturers are hoping to extend the coverage nationwide.

There is concern that London’s streets are becoming too unsafe for cyclists. As the Mayor of London Boris Johnson is a conspicuous supporter of cycling as a solution to the capital’s transport problems, he has intimated that it may be necessary to ban HGVs from London unless they have some cyclist-aware safety device installed.

"This is the first time that this information has been made available to a company specifically to provide additional information for HGV drivers," a Transport for London spokesman told the BBC. "We are happy to work with other developers should they wish to provide similar information within their products."

The devices issue a warning signal when a driver approaches a danger zone, and can also be programmed to issue audio warnings. "The safety of drivers, cyclists and other users of the road is a concern for everybody,” chief executive Nick Caesari said. “We are proud to lead the navigation industry by launching this world first safety feature."

British Cycling policy director Martin Gibbs welcomed the new technology, but said it was just a step in the right direction. "Over half of cyclist deaths in London involve HGVs," he said, "so we'd like to see restrictions on the times when they can enter cities as well as mandatory fitting of sensors, side-bars and better HGV education on cyclist awareness."

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